Monday, May 28, 2007

Hope in Science

One of my co-workers challenged me to think about the title of my blog. In a nutshell, his argument is that if it's really a science blog I am writing, how do I get away with referencing hope? My immediate response is that science's role in society contributes as much hope to fix the world as it does pain and suffering (following the Pandora's Box story). But that got me thinking about this word, hope... So I've been jotting down some phrases I've heard in the lab or have thought to myself in the past few days. Some of them are troubling... If I analyzed them here, I would probably bore all 10 of my readers into clicking away from my site. So I am just going to list them. Hopefully some of you will feel motivated to list some of your own in the comments section.
  • We hope to find that erythropoietin increases cell survival in two week old cardiac grafts.
  • I hope that endothelial cell density translates into vessel density.
  • I hope to graduate this fall.
  • We are all hoping that this Program Project Grant gets funded.
  • I hope this experiment works!
  • I sure hope this animal survives.
  • Hopefully, I am not here when the streetcar starts running.
  • You just crushed all of my hopes and dreams.
Is it appropriate to hope that an experiment works? Shouldn't the answer be satisfying even if it is unexpected? How are hope and expectation linked in the practice of science? Is the real problem that the word hope can be used in different contexts?

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