27 No. 1
From the Editor
November 2003, I read in Nature an article by Steven
Weinberg titled "Scientist: Four Golden Lessons."
Soon afterward I made his first lesson my new-year's resolution.
As I embark on 2005, I think that his second lesson might
be a good resolution for this year.
first lesson was "no one knows everything, and
you don't have to." He started by explaining
that the ocean of bibliography associated with any scientific
topic can be so overwhelming that it might discourage young
graduate students from actually engaging in their own research.
His advice is to just start the research, and pick up what
is needed along the way. This might be true in graduate school,
but it is also true in many other circumstances. In organizations
such as IUPAC, new officers and new members have to gradually
learn all of the rules and yet attend to their jobs to keep
their momentum. Yet 2004 was a special year for the officer
who is the "rules keeper" or can I say the "handbook
master" (i.e., the secretary general). In January 2004,
David StC. Black replaced Edwin Becker, who had served IUPAC
relentlessly for eight years. While his encyclopedic knowledge
of IUPAC retired with him, Becker made sure to provide his
successor with all the information he needed to continue the
job. Thanks to that, David StC. Black has lost no time following
in Becker's foot steps and taking the lead, even though he
probably did not know everything before he started.
second lesson is "go for the messes - that's
where the action is." This advice is also pertinent
to IUPAC; not that the Union itself is a mess, but that sorting
out problems is what I think we are good at. Remember that
one of IUPAC's objectives is "to study topics of international
importance to chemistry that need standardization or codification."
Everyone will agree that in any field it is the mess prior
to standardization that justifies the need for standardization.
So, if you like the messy topics and the challenge of resolving
discrepancies, IUPAC is certainly a good playing field, and
it is up to you to join the team.
me, working with IUPACers -be it officers or members of any
kind- is an endless game. I think of myself as an assistant
referee, keeping score and helping new players to sort out
the rules. (It might not sound like it, but seriously, it
is a fun job!) To all of you on the field, may I say thanks
for playing and best wishes for the new year.
last modified 18 January 2005.
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