The communities of Science

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Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 103
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah4023

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My father was a mathematician. When I was a teenager, I talked to him about careers. I love math, even fairly esoteric stuff. He surprised me by saying, “Math is something to pursue only if you cannot imagine doing anything else. You can follow other careers and still do math, but pure math can be very isolating; only a few people in the world are likely to really understand what you are working on.” I was surprised that he was discouraging me from his career path. But wait, what? He was also implying that science was a social activity in an essential way.