Jul 3, 2022Liked by Arye, Clarice D. Aiello (she/her)

Interesting proposition…while I am not qualified to judge the quality of your science, I can share my experiences in creating new institutes for foundational science. There are four foundational areas I have participated as an experimentalist, which is what it sounds like you are proposing: electron microscopy, exoplanet exploration, nanoscience, and molecular engineering. My participation in each was as an architect, my chosen field, but each resulted in an intimate understanding of what the scientists must do to succeed.

When Richard Feynman gave his famous lecture at CalTech in 1960 on quantum physics, it turned a lot of heads because he told us that things were different at the quantum scale, and and that is useful. He had a theory, but not the tools to prove it. Those machines had not been invented yet. Cal Tech open the Kavli Nanoscience Institute in 2009.

When Steve Sieber at the University of Chicago proposed molecular engineering in 1996, even with Bob Langer and George Whitesides on board, it took until 2015 to establish the Pritiker Institute for Molecular Engineering.

The first electron microscopes were built in the 1950’s, ramped up in power and scale but still could not perform as promised until 1996 when IBM made one capable of seeing a single atom. It took until 2004 for Dr. Allard’s team at Oak Ridge to image the quantum bonds between atoms.

In 1970, after the return of the moon rocks, a treaty was signed by all nations on earth called the Planetary Protection Protocol, which prohibits the contamination of earth from life from other planets, and the likewise contamination of other planets by earth species. In 2020, we landed a rover on Mars capable of finding and packaging potential life samples and sending them to earth. They should be arriving in 2030.

Each of these efforts was deemed worthwhile because they had the potential to create the kind of science that would answer a big question and would then become useful to others. This is very nature of the institutes model, from Max Planck, to MIT, to NIH. The reason why this should be important in your thinking is no one does it alone.

Discovery happens with small groups, two to three people usually, who share a common fascination or interest. Application of discovery is done by large groups, who solve the large scale problem by breaking it down and “assembling” the answers. Think of LIGO.

All this takes money. While there are individuals who are wealthier than governments or universities, they are not what creates useful science. In the realm of discovery, they are takers, not makers. There is so much to be frustrated about in academia. Sometimes all it takes is finding the right one. Upon turning in my thesis at MIT, I asked my mentor “What do I do now?”. They replied: “Get as far away from here as humanly possible, otherwise no one will recognize your work. Come back when you’ve accomplished something”.

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May 13, 2022Liked by Clarice D. Aiello (she/her)

Great Idea ! Have you heard about Etica Protocol ?

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I realy hope to be able to work with you in Quantum Biology some day. https://www.linkedin.com/in/nahuel-aquiles-garcia-764b3851/

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