Whoever’s already done this experiment, please raise your hand. Thank you.

It used to be a problem that I’d be coming up with experiments to try and stumble upon one or two that I thought would be pretty nifty, only to find out from labmates/PI/general internet stumbling that they’d already been done ages ago. I could try to improve it, of course, or answer some questions that were left behind, but The Big Idea Of The Week had already been tried (and knowing my luck with these sorts of things, had been tried ad nauseum). Nearly a year in the PhD program now, I’m getting better at it. Or possibly I’m just becoming better read. RSS feeds of all my favorite journals help a lot, for one. God knows what scientists did before Google Reader.

So, thanks to judicious culling of my giant stack of review articles, I’m much less frequently pitching decades old ideas to the lab (“I know guys! Let’s make computer chips out of silicon!”). Instead, I’ve been having a slightly different issue the past month or so. I’ll stumble on a potential Next Big Idea, get an encouraging result from a lit sweep (“Score, it hasn’t been in Science, Macromolecules, or Chemistry of Materials!”), and then just as I’m getting ready to plot out the experimental specifics and order some materials, disaster! The exact experiment shows up in this week’s issue of the Journal of We Did It While You Were Taking A Coffee Break. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky recently, or maybe my lab scrap paper is being wiretapped, but it’s getting old.

So, in the procession towards the cutting edge of science, I can scratch off Revisiting Last Generation’s Experiments, and I’m getting ready to give a check to Coming Up With Ideas That Were Published Last Week. Next stop is Getting Scooped, and then I should finally be as up to date as is physically possible without owning a DeLorean.

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