Whenever I come back from a conference, I have mixed feelings about the progress being made in the field I work in. There are times when I feel like we are really discovering what is going on, and moments where I feel that we are merely spinning our wheels. We are looking at very specific areas of biochemical processes, and I often wonder why we are looking at them. Are we studying them because we truly understand the overall process and know this is the area that is important, or are we studying a particular area because it is the only area we know to look at? Are we studying something because we know it is important, or have we deemed it to be important because it is the only area we know to look at?
In the field I am working in, I feel like everyone is spending an eternity examining meaningless minutiae of the processes we are studying. This has led to a sclerosis in which very little advancement is being made. As scientists, we need to be bold, and start thinking about how to take the leaps forward we need to study the overall processes we are examining, and not get lost in the minutiae.