Scientific life should be measured in seven year units.
“Traditional wisdom and empirical observation unite in recommending a 7 year unit for measuring human life – including individual and institutional science. But, because of astronomy and the decimal system, things tend to be measured either in years, five years or in decades. A year is too short while a decade is too long to measure the trends and transitions of individual or institutional life. And the half decade, such as the ‘five year plan’ beloved by politicians and bureaucrats seems too short. Therefore, seven years should become the standard unit for tracking trends and measuring attainment. Precedents for using a seven year unit include the notorious Jesuit saying: ‘Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man’; and the ‘ninth commandment’ of Leo Szilard: ‘Do your work for six years; but in the seventh, go into solitude or among strangers, so that the memory of your friends does not prevent you from being what you have become’. In a scientific career, seven years is approximately the time spent at high school, the time taken for a traditional basic scientific training of first degree and doctorate, and the period after the doctorate building the knowledge to become an expert specialist. There seems to be enough anecdotal evidence to support the idea that we should reconsider the universal but un-reflective use of decimal units in planning and evaluation. For instance, seven year fellowships and program grants might replace the current five year versions. A new – and previously unconsidered – field of research beckons.”
“What an excellent idea! If only all bloggers shared your enthusiasm – ahem.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, you have my blessing
(holds out large jewelled ring to be kissed…)
Bruce G Charlton”