Headline Aug 30, 2014/


THE WORD  - 'AMATEUR' -    comes from the Latin word for  'love' , which when encouraged with money, becomes a profession

An amateur's love is free of direct pay,  such that while money might be ultimately involved, it's not the day-to-day incentive. It's a kind of love that hasn't very well spoken its name.

It's neither eros nor agape, nothing involving filial bonding or generous charity. It may, in fact, be the least described love  -a peculiar version of self-love, changed with the hope of finding that new thing, just over the horizon.

Parts of the freedom and pleasure that amateurs feel while doing their research derives from the fact that their workspaces, usually contain no black boxes.

Among Patterson's lab equipment, there's nothing store-bought whose processes she doesn't understand. She's built and rebuilt everything. When I asked, for instance about the broth in the tubes, says the author-

''That is, the food that would feed our bacteria as they grew overnight  -she said. ''Normally when you are growing  lacto , you use MRS broth. MRS stands for a couple of guys : three scientists { J.D.DeMan, M.Rogosa and M.E.Sharpe).

But that stuff is expensive,''  so she made her own.

What I did was mange to track down an article Paul Elliker wrote in the Journal of Dairy Science.'' The article was written in 1956. Talk about going back to basics. I could have solved the problem by throwing money at it,'' she said:

''But what I've generally found is that old articles tend to have the cheapest but still effective ways of going about anything.''

This kind of improvisational approach to research and experimentation lends a certain levity of purpose to any amateur endeavour. When things went perfectly, Patterson's work gave way to moments of intense and obscure beauty.

To add distilled water to the vials of bacteria, she cleaned her hands and carefully removed a single sterilized corked tube. With one elegant motion, she drew up some water with a syringe, with the other she one-handedly popped the cork.

She looked sideways at the open tube so that her breathing wouldn't contaminate her work. Then she pipetted just enough in, recorking the tube once the process was finished. Twenty times, perfectly, like a tiny private ballet. 
IN-LESS-THAN-PERFECT  moments, when something went wrong, Patterson just stepped back, thought about things for a while, and dove back in. She just doesn't get frustrated easily:

A trait that she ascribes to her parents' constant encouragement when she was a kid. But it's also the case that  amateurs  simply have a different relationship to frustration, and even failure.

At an office,  failure and success are binary modes, down and up   (and often linked directly to pay). Public failure, too,  can be discouraging and embarrassing. In the worst cases, it can get you marginalised or fired.

But if the entire rig on your kitchen table is your creation, hatched from  street cast-offs and dairy farmers' lessons dating from the  Eisenhower administration, then failure is just a glitch in the system you've built.

Putting one's  hands in there,  e-mailing other kindred scientists for advice, checking out colleagues on a common  wiki, fixing what's wrong, moving one's investigations forward are simply short-term variations of of success.

On one of the many long nights that Patterson and I would spend together, states the author,  piecing together her system, we had a brief discussion of the flow, the notion developed by  Mihaly  Csikszentmihalyi  -perhaps the most fun name to say ever.

This Hungarian-American psychologist holds that there is a very satisfying state of mind that occurs when one is totally absorbed by an action. It may sound as if this is some rare state of being, like a kind of a secular nirvana, but it's not.

We all experience flow, It doesn't require special meditative skills, only the love of doing something so much so that one gets lost in the labor. One might experience flow while painting a complex landscape or painting the front porch. Or chaperoning growing bacteria.

Its commonness is why we have so many phrases for this pleasant state of existence: being in the zone, losing ourselves in our work, being on the ball, in the groove.

Patterson calls it  Codespace, as programmers call it,  ''where the world sort of disappears.''

She knows it well. '' That's a good head space to try new things, especially if there's something I think should work. So I try it and see if it does. That doesn't quite work the way it was supposed to. Let's check a few settings and see if this works. 'Sweet.''

The Honour and Serving of the Post continues. Thank you for reading and see ya all on the following one.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Inventions And Honours '''

Good Night and God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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