Friday, November 15, 2019

Keystone Habits, Science Coffee, and the Hubble Deep Field

The Hubble Deep Field and topic of the 2019 Bullitt Lecture

I am reading “The Power of Habit” and it talks about Keystone Habits. An institutional habit that encourages the whole place to be and get better at what it is supposed to do. This first astronomy related one that I can think of is the morning coffee. Famously instituted at Leiden Observatory and The Kapteyn Institute by Oort and his students, this early morning mixing of caffeine, science and some social interaction has resulted in a lot of good ideas and improvements.

Case in point: the Hubble Deep Field. Basically started as a discussion during science coffee at STSCI between Harry Ferguson, Mark Dickinson and Bob Williams. Exactly how such a science coffee is supposed to work. This was part of the Bullitt Lecture by Bob Williams (on youtube) and in his book, Hubble Deep Field and the Distant Universe.

So science coffee (the name alone nothing sciency about the coffee, it was often terrible coffee) and the shortened connection between early career researchers and the director. This latter part I think is key. If the Director is just right there, it's a lot easier to pitch an idea.  

I think this is an excellent example of a cornerstone habit for a scientific institution. Of a certain size. What would be a good one for a smaller institution? 

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