Learn to Learn, and Embrace Serendipity


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Here is my advice to students considering pursuing science:

—Learn how to learn (science is progressing so rapidly that whatever field you are focused on today will inevitably be different 10 years from now)

—Learn how to develop focused attention (i.e. avoid modern day distractions like Twitter)

—Master multiple science disciplines—If you can bridge disciplines you will become invaluable.

—Develop a fundamental understanding of scientific principles versus learning the latest scientific tool.

—Learn how to articulate science to all different types of stakeholders—this will be essential to getting the funding you need to pursue your discoveries.

—Science is an apprenticeship business, so find mentors early—even though science is based on rational thought it is conducted in an irrational environment.

—Learn how to embrace serendipity—most of the important discoveries don’t come from linear thought

—Grasp an early intuitive feel and understanding for extremely large or small numbers (10^ -20 and 10^ 20) and probabilistic phenomenon—Science exploration occurs at these extremes so it is just as important to understand these numbers as it is to understand what a 10 Trillion dollar debt is.

—Learn the history of science—All great new things come from combinations of old things.

—Future scientist needs to also be engineers—The best scientist will need to be able to engineer their own tools.

—Attend the 2022 USA Science & Engineering Festival!

(Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital also contributed to this post)

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Larry Bock, a biotech entrepreneur and San Diego venture investor, is the founder and organizer of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, set for Washington DC in April 2012. Follow @

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One response to “Learn to Learn, and Embrace Serendipity”

  1. My Fluke – the wealth building game of accidental inventions satisfy the multiple discipline and historical context of science and invention. Endorse my idea for Start Garden Funding http://startgarden.com/ideas/detail/fluke