Thursday, March 5, 2015

Some pretty good rules for a career: Newman’s Own Lessons

Dr. Paul Newman: "I grew up in in the middle of Seattle, moved to rural Iowa for graduate school, and made my way to NASA/GSFC in 1984. There were a lot of people who helped me get to GSFC and there were a lot of people who helped me when I got here. This brings me to Rule #1: There is no such thing as a self made-man. After about a year at GSFC, Mark Schoeberl and Rich Stolarski started talking to me about some very interesting observations of ozone over Antarctica – the ozone hole. In 1985 we started down a science trail of trying to understand why there was a massive depletion of ozone over Antarctica. Bringing me to Rule #2: If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. In 1985, I didn’t believe that CFCs were responsible for the ozone hole. But, some obnoxious observations ruined the elaborate “dynamical” theory of the ozone hole. Hence, Rule #3: You need to learn how to handle the truth. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a difficult time giving up their preconceptions. Here we get to Rule #4: Never argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference. Make your science case and be an impartial arbiter of the facts. I’ve now been at GSFC for 31 years, and I still enjoy the day-to-day learning experience of being amongst some of the gifted scientists in the world."

Dr. Paul Newman, Chief Scientist for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA GSFC, Earth Sciences Division

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