Astrophysicist Erica Hamden (Erika Hamden) of the University of Arizona shared at the recent 2019 TED conference how his work has experienced setbacks over and over again. In fact, it was a perfect motivational speech.
Beijing time on May 15th news, according to foreign media reports, scientists need to talk more about failure, they are experiencing failure every day... Failure is an inevitable part of scientific research, and it is incorporated into scientific methods: observation, measurement, hypothesis, and testing. Of course, the assumptions are often wrong. When an error occurs, the scientist will return to the origin, make more observations, obtain new measurement data, propose a new hypothesis, and test again, again and again...
Still, scientific failures are rarely talked about publicly, That's why Astrophysicist Erica Hamden (Erika Hamden) of the University of Arizona shared at the recent 2019 TED conference how his work has experienced setbacks over and over again. In fact, it was a perfect motivational speech. She sometimes almost cried when she spoke, which not only showed Erica's courage, but also was very inspiring.
The TED Congress is a conference on technology, entertainment and design, organized by TED institutions, whose purpose is to "change the world with the power of thought." generally held in March of each year, the Congress brings together a lot of science, design and literature in the United States. Outstanding people in music and other fields share their thinking and exploration about technology, society and people.
Elika said: "My job reality is - I almost always face failure, but I must continue." She is one of the members of this year's TED conference, they are a group of promising reform creators, Their efforts will reshape the world. Most people attend the TED conference to promote their work and tell the TED conference why it is so important to conduct scientific research and it needs the attention of the whole world.
Elika tells the story of a balloon explosion.
In September 2018, a hot air balloon carried a telescope and it was successfully launched. But the fact is that the experiment took 10 years to succeed. The telescope is called the "FIREBall", a task of measuring large hydrogen particles. Astronomers speculate that large hydrogen particles travel between galaxies. Erica explained that observing them can help scientists understand why galaxies are like this and will also help measure every atom that exists in the universe.
"for binoculars, FIREBall is very special because it is neither in space nor on the ground," she said. It is hung on the cable of a huge hot air balloon, 130000 feet above the ground in the stratosphere, which is the edge of space. "
It is only at night that you can observe and find out why the balloon exploded. She explained that it was only at night that failures followed, sensor failures, mirror problems, cooling system failures and calibration failures.
Sometimes the failure is sudden and unpredictable. One day, a cute, super angry eagle landed on the spectrograph. Although the eagle ruined the spectrograph, it was still the best in the history of telescope launch. One day, because this little eagle is very cute, it is hard to forget. The eagle damaged the spectrograph fixture and needed repairs in August 2017, but forced the launch to fail due to six consecutive weeks of rain in the New Mexico desert.
When the sky is clear, the balloon takes off again. She said: "I took a sunset when the balloon was lifted off. The photo was a balloon, the FIREBall telescope was hung below, and there was a full moon. I really like this photo. God, I like it very much, just watching It makes me want to cry. When the balloons are fully inflated, they are spherical. In the event of a malfunction, it looks like a teardrop, usually a hole in the balloon."
When the balloon leaks, the FIREBall telescope will fall with it in the desert. She said: "When the balloon fails to launch, we can't get the expected observation data. When I see the balloon falling, I will ask myself: Why should I do this? Always face failure, is it worth it?"
The experience of failure was always followed by surprise.
Failure to obtain observations is the worst failure of scientists, and this is what happens every day. Although these failures are common and even important, they are rarely discussed openly.
As a journalist, I often try to talk to scientists about the failures they have experienced, and although in most cases they will soon admit that this is an important part of their scientific work, I am very cautious in discussing the details. They usually don't talk about their own scientific experiments, only one scientist lists all the failures of the experiment, and he goes through failures over and over again until these failures teach them enough knowledge. It was only in the end that the correct answer was obtained. If you're reading a news report about science, it's almost all about success-technological breakthroughs, healing of intractable diseases, unravelling mysteries, and so on.
To some extent, this is understandable. No one likes to talk about their lowest and most lost moments, and in the field of science, where experimental work requires funding, talking openly about the failure of their experiments may have some negative effects. Funding agencies want to see a reliable record of success before taking on the risk of funding research, and of course they do not want to see news that the scientific experiments they have invested in have failed repeatedly.
A few years ago, molecular biologist Maryam Zaringhalam published an article in Scientific American magazine saying that everything discovered in the science lab, especially the failure experience, would not be fully documented. Down, the mediocre process of daily experimentation and the experimental results of self-doubt will not be experienced in the experimental log. Without failure, we don't have a complete scientific picture. At the same time, we also lack a complete understanding of a great scientist. In fact, scientists don't just have a beautiful and beautiful aura. They are more faced with daily failures. Frustration, only by experiencing these makes them closer and closer to success.
"my husband is a scientist," Mariam said. "I witnessed the frustration of scientific failure. I saw my husband, his colleagues and friends from different disciplines fail to experiment and the machine broke down. When all experimental data are lost or experimental funding applications are rejected, it is painful for them to lose sleep, lose hope, lose their way, and overcome these setbacks. "
Oncology researcher Eileen Parks (Eileen Parkes) wrote in the journal Nature this year: "Young scientists may be surprised to find that scientific life is full of failures, and when I move from medicine to research, The biggest impact on me was failure. "
"The reason why scientific failure is so challenging is partly because of the time scale. The data is collected in months, years, and decades. When you spend so much time studying a scientific theory," said Erica. Sudden data indicates that you are wrong, or that the telescope you have been building has suddenly fallen, and you will feel that your life's work has collapsed."
She said: "Thousands of researchers spent 44 years launching the Hubble Space Telescope into space orbit. It takes time and needs to face the tolerance of failure. Everyone needs to choose not to give up every day!"
There is a problem of brain drain and suspension in the academic scientific community, and a recent study shows that about half of all groups working in academic science give up after five years. There are many factors, such as lack of parental support, gender pay differences and unequal reputation, but this lack of transparency about failure may only make things worse. Young scientists, in the face of their first failure experience, will make them lose confidence, such failure will make them question their talents, will make scientists feel the pressure, face their own failure. There is a sense of loneliness, not as a normal part of the course of scientific research.
Sarah Whitlock (Sara Whitlock), a graduate student in structural biology, has talked about the importance of what she calls "scientific resilience (scientific resilience)." she said: "many college students have suffered their first failure. Will shift the interest of the scientific research profession to other fields. "
Learning to insist and not give up is one of the most important courses to become a successful scientist. Studies have shown that resilience and greater tolerance for failure can keep people in the scientific community, but this does not happen in the formal research environment of the Institute. Although studies have shown that it is effective to provide specific resilience training, there is usually no corresponding course to learn this skill. If you can learn to get it, it is done in private, from helpful investigators, talking to colleagues who have been in the work environment, talking at home, or drinking. But it is rarely shared at TED conferences, or published literature, and it is less likely to talk about failure experiences in workplace counseling with young and promising scientists.
Erica said: "I put too much energy into the binoculars project, even all of my life, and when I thought about why, the FIREBall binoculars fell, the data was lost, and it broke me a few times." But when I thought of the Hubble Space Telescopes and the ability of the FIREBall to survey space atoms in the future, I became confident again. I realized that finding out is mainly about looking for factors that don't work properly, and failure is inevitable, which may be caused by my lack of knowledge and cognitive ability, and that's what I want to do and keep trying to improve myself. So I chose to go on. Seeing encouraging speeches at the TED conference will be refreshing and allow young scientists to know that failure is an inevitable growth experience. "
She said: "Today I may feel that I am a loser. It is true, but I chose to give up. Then I will always be a loser. I will not do this. At present, my research colleagues plan to launch the FIREBall telescope again in 2020. ""