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Old 11-26-2019, 11:30 PM
 
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Our local PBS station just featured the artist Macdowell Colony in New Hampshire and so I wondered if there is a science equivalent to something like it? The Macdowell Colony provides a fellowship to hundreds of artists each year to spend a month or two in one of their cabins free of charge. All meals provided and nothing to do but clear your mind and create.

I've heard of artists colonies before, but never heard of a science equivalent where scientists could go off in the woods and just think. Just wondered if there was such a thing.
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Old 11-26-2019, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Brackenwood
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They don't need to go off into the woods and think about science stuff, they do it for a living in collaborative environments like tech schools and engineering schools and engineering firms and the like.
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Old 11-27-2019, 07:59 AM
 
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The nearest thing to this I am aware of was the big Manhattan Project installations. Many of these have been converted into "national labs". Fermilab, Lawrence Livermore, Jet Propulsion (not part of Manhattan Project as far as I know), Brookhaven etc.


While working at a national lab or similar installation (like the big synchrotrons) isn't, strictly speaking, a "science colony", as nowadays the workers there go home to the suburbs, it's probably the closest thing to it.
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Old 11-27-2019, 10:15 AM
 
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I happen to work at a National Lab. And yes originally they were kind of hidden enclaves (one of the reasons Oppenheimer picked Los Alamos was the monastic location of the boys school). But those Labs are no longer so isolated.

One of the problems in science is so often now days there is no time to think. Everything is rush rush rush.

So that got me wondering why wouldn't the opportunity for isolation that works for artists work for scientists. A month ti just think without distraction while working on a problem or paper.
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Old 11-27-2019, 01:49 PM
 
Location: (six-cent-dix-sept)
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silicon valley,
kendall/cambridge

?
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:35 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Few of the hard sciences are exclusively cerebral, to the point that the need for data, verification of various steps in a thought experiment, and advanced technical resources would make an enclave impractical for most.

Soft sciences, such as philosophy or psychology might be more fruitful (e.g., "Walden Pond")
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Old 11-28-2019, 09:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Few of the hard sciences are exclusively cerebral, to the point that the need for data, verification of various steps in a thought experiment, and advanced technical resources would make an enclave impractical for most.

Soft sciences, such as philosophy or psychology might be more fruitful (e.g., "Walden Pond")
I think that inherent in having such a "scientist's retreat" would be a requirement for access to the appropriate experimental apparatus. A location near a major research university specializing in - let's say - nanoscience - might work for a "nanoscientist's retreat", with some kind of agreements that the people working there have access to the equipment and in return the university has some kind of stake in the results. I'm not sure how this would be distinct from the usual relationship of a university researcher to their institution.
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Old 11-28-2019, 09:12 PM
 
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As to Walden Pond, do keep in mind that Walden Pond is a brisk 20 minutes' walk from Concord center, and Thoreau brought his laundry home to his mother each week. Since the whole area was intensively farmed at the time, and his cabin was surrounded by working farms (and the B&M train went right past the pond several times a day in clear view from the cabin) it was hardly the life of an isolated monastic.
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Old 11-28-2019, 10:57 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
As to Walden Pond, do keep in mind that Walden Pond is a brisk 20 minutes' walk from Concord center, and Thoreau brought his laundry home to his mother each week. Since the whole area was intensively farmed at the time, and his cabin was surrounded by working farms (and the B&M train went right past the pond several times a day in clear view from the cabin) it was hardly the life of an isolated monastic.
Absolutely. Not all of the work was really original to him either. (Another case of a woman's work getting re-authored.) Today, the ISS is in constant communication and they can see Russia from up there. Isolation can be hard to find.

(I never was a fan of the B&M, not sure why. Maybe because it was more big business than the two-footers.)
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:55 AM
 
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Seems to be some assumptions about how much time is spent on experimentation and need for equipment. Relatively much more time is spend designing the experiment and analyzing data than actually running it. Time needed for reading. Coming up with a concept. Writing grant proposals. Designing the experiment. Analyzing the results. Writing up the results. All those are things that would benefit greatly from having a place isolated from the daily grind.

In astronomy for example, the mountain top observatory was a place like that, be today even more of the "observing" is done remotely with data.

Saw a study one time that said the average age of "great discoveries" is late 20s to mid 30s. After that the productivity goes down because of all the other time consuming responsibilities that get added to the plate.

Here's an interesting video of how a scientist's day actually goes.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW_qIqLhPkI
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