We’ve been spending most of our time the past few days indoors, working on our various papers- abstracts, methods, citations, data, discussion, figures, formatting… and after too long looking at the same figure or the same phrases, they stop meaning anything. We’ve turned in some papers to the TAs and the professor with entire paragraphs of nonsense, because at 1:30 am after having struggled with explaining a concept we’re no longer interested in for 5 hours or longer, we can’t see that our sentences are not, in fact, actual English. My science writing has improved more in the past 72 hours than in the past 4 years… but my reading comprehension has slowed by half or more, just due to number and letter fatigue.
It’s been important for us to occasionally look up from the figures at the jungle out the window and remember exactly what it is that we’re doing here. Giant butterflies are still passing us by while we slave over statistics… coatis go about their mischief as we search for relevant papers in the brief periods of working internet access… and blue-crowned mot-mots perch on low branches and search for insects as we format columns and charts.
After clearing our heads a bit, we can get back to the figures and realize that we all did actually super cool projects this time around- investigating stream invertebrates and finding real results (check out dem p-values below, heck yes!), testing hummingbird territoriality and conflict trade-offs, determining the effects of constant wind on fern fecundity, and looking for a reason why some trees of the forest put out red leaves when they’re young…
Don’t get stuck in the numbers, we have to tell ourselves. The science we’re doing is all about interesting explanations for the cool stuff we have questions about. We’re in the jungle, checking out awesome and totally foreign systems… GET PUMPED, SCIENCE.