By Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Santiago Ramon y Cajal used to be a mythic determine in technology. Hailed because the father of recent anatomy and neurobiology, he was once mostly chargeable for the trendy belief of the mind. His groundbreaking works have been New principles at the constitution of the fearful method and H istology of the fearful approach in guy and Vertebrates. as well as leaving a legacy of extraordinary medical learn, Cajal sought to teach the beginner scientist approximately how technological know-how used to be performed and the way he suggestion it may be performed. This lately rediscovered vintage, first released in 1897, is an anecdotal advisor for the confused new investigator in addition to a clean source for the previous pro.
Cajal used to be a pragmatist, conscious of the pitfalls of being too idealistic -- and he had a feeling of humor, relatively glaring in his diagnoses of assorted stereotypes of eccentric scientists. The publication covers every thing from worthwhile character characteristics for an investigator to social elements conducive to clinical paintings.
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32 Those writing about logic emphasize with good reason the creative power of concentration, although they tend to ignore a variety that might appropriately be called cerebral polarization or sustained concentration—that is, steady orientation of all our faculties toward a single object of study for a period of months or even years. The thinking of countless brilliant minds ends up sterile for lack of this ability, which the French call esprit de suite. I could cite dozens of Spaniards with minds ªnely suited to scientiªc investigation who retreat discouraged from a problem without seriously measuring their strength, perhaps just at the moment when nature was about to reward their eagerness with the anxiously awaited revelation.
As a ªnal example, it is widely known that Mayer, the genius who discovered the principle of energy conservation and transformation, dedicated his entire life to this concept. Thus, it is clear beyond doubt that great scientiªc undertakings require intellectual vigor, as well as severe discipline of the will and continuous subordination of all one’s mental powers to an object of study. Harm is caused unconsciously by the biographers of illustrious scholars when they attribute great scientiªc conquests to genius rather than to hard work and patience.
These are the inevitable fruits of negligence or excessive lack of focus, not to mention childish, encyclopedic ostentation. This approach is inconceivable today, when even the most renowned scholars specialize and concentrate in order to produce. But enough of this; we shall deal later with bad habits of the will. To bring scientiªc investigation to a happy end once appropriate methods have been determined, we must hold ªrmly in mind the goal of the project. The object here is to focus the train of thought on more and more complex and accurate associations between images based on observation and ideas slumbering in the unconscious—ideas that only vigorous concentration of mental energy can raise to the conscious level.
Advice For a Young Investigator by Santiago Ramón y Cajal