Did you ever have a little accident that forced you to shift your mental gears?
This morning I was standing in a familiar spot on the campus, talking with the designer of this magazine, Tom Weeks. As I swung my hand making a point, my plastic OSU identification card fluttered out of it and, seemingly in slow motion, down to the sidewalk.
We looked at each other. The card had disappeared.
On closer inspection we saw it in a narrow crack between a cement wall and an equally solid sidewalk. Neither of us had noticed the tiny crevice before. There was no way any human finger could reach the card. I thought of using an ice pick. But who has one since block ice headed the direction of the dodo bird?
A little flustered, because you can't even check out a library book without one of those cards, I went in a nearby building looking for a very thin screwdriver. A good Samaritan gave me a big paper clip, suggesting I straighten it and use it to flip the card out. The paper clip didn't work, plus I lost it in the crack and the card slid deeper.
I went in another building looking for help (by now Weeks had abandoned me). A fellow behind a counter held up a svelte, 15-inch-long hacksaw blade, grinning confidently. My spirits soared. But that didn't work.
As I sat by the crevice pondering, a passerby, the same woman who gave me the paper clip, asked if I'd tried putting tape on the end of the hacksaw blade. A minute later the ID card was back where it belonged in my wallet. I felt like I'd put that little NASA rover on Mars--with an erector set and some household chemicals. Gradually, I came back to earth and realized the key had been the creative thinking of the passerby.
That brings me to the articles in this issue: We all have to look at situations from different angles, with fresh perspectives, to adjust to everyday life. It's a scientist's job to think that way.
In one article that follows, an entomologist is trying to figure out how to outmaneuver mites destroying wild honey bees. In another, a microbiologist describes the many dead ends and eventual triumph of her 16 years trying to figure out how an elusive parasite kills trout and salmon. You'll meet Portland high school students learning about life from the point of view of farmers. And you'll read about Oregon's network of branch agricultural experiment stations, where year after year researchers wrestle with natural puzzles to solve state problems and generate new opportunities.