Nature’s Depths

Walking through nature with John Palka, a neuroscientist who loves plants and ponders big questions

Rumination

Rohtang Pass

Come Walk with Me

Rumination

Many neuroscientists ponder big questions because, after all, most of us believe that the nervous system is the seat of human experience and emotions and thus of what is most meaningful in our lives. It is less common to find neuroscientists who also love and study plants. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you how this dual affinity came about for me.

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Friendship in Science

Rumination

Scientists have a reputation of being solitary and introverted, their labs functioning as isolated silos and their teams driven by competition. However, friendship and collaboration are at least as important, as are shared passions outside the world of science.

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The Trees and I

Rumination

In the mid-1970s I had a remarkable experience while walking in ancient forests on the west side of the Cascade Mountains of Washington. . . I was grasping an essential truth that was based on familiar science (relating to genes), but the nature of the grasping had a quality that I was not able to put into words, and that, even if I could, a scientific journal would probably never allow to be published on its pages.

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