Our PI (academese for “principle investigator”; see also: advisor, research professor, The Boss) has been out of town all week, and his flight back got cancelled yesterday, so weekly group meeting was cancelled. When this happens we tend to move group meetings to the Grad Lounge where a fine selection of beverages are on tap. It makes our weekly research talks that much more amusing. With one of our memeber’s thesis defense coming up though, we opted to prep for that instead by going to get congratulation cards and booking a place for a celebratory lunch. It was a nice change of pace.
To be fair, I really like group meetings, both personally and as an abstract idea. Jonah Lehrer from Wired recently had a really interesting article called “The Neuroscience of Screwing Up” which, along with a whole lot of insight into how scientists think, made a really good case for group meetings. The meat of the article is about how our brains deal with seeing results we don’t expect (short answer: not very well, from a scientists point of view), but there’s a short bit about group meetings and how they are pretty crucial for problem solving. I know I can personally vouch for that. I’ve stopped counting the number of times someone in group meeting wasn’t able to make heads or tails of some data and then went “Oh yeah…I never thought of that!” when someone else tried to wrap their mind around it out loud.