Thursday, March 20, 2008

Zen and the art of microarray chip design

I have been reading a lot of books lately, correction: I am reading a lot of books at the moment. When in Norway I finished "Conversations with God" and "Zen and the art of motercycle maintenance". Both happen to be very philosophical of nature:
The first is about inward quality of life, how you can achieve more and be more satisfied by taking life in your own hands - create your Self by conscious choices in your life.
The second is about how you relate to the outside world. The author describes to contrasting ways of viewing the world, the classical and the romantic. The classical is the analytic way, where the solutions to problems are found by describing the object in minute detail until the description reveals the answer to the problem. The romantic, on the other hand, acts on feeling, on gut feeling about what is good Quality.

What I find a bit funny is that I have been working more than a year on a scientific project concerning Quality of microarray chip design. And when it came to the point where I wanted to draw the conclusion, finalise a hypothesis and confirm it, a new question showed up that could not be answered by analysing the data we had. Also, it was not possible in the scope of the project to provide the data that could give us the final answer. So to this problem I had to step out of the analytical way of thinking (it was practically a dead end) and zoom out and give a subjective solution to what will be the best way to deal with the new question. It may be unsatisfactory in a scientific way to solve problems by gut feeling, but in some cases (in science as well as in life), there is no analytical answer possible to a specific question, and then you have to do something else. At least I am entertained by the fact that I draw my own situation into the context I am reading to make it all make sense, hey, that is also why I am blogging this right now...

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