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Dec 01 2009

A short story about scientific impact

I work for a company, I won’t tell you who.

40 years ago a man wrote a paper, published in a scientific journal, you won’t have heard of it, it wasn’t important.

A couple of years ago I read the paper, and I carried out the calculations described in the paper. I showed the results to the team I worked with. They showed that what we were doing wasn’t going to work. So we stopped the project.

There were 10 people on the team, let’s say they each cost my company £100,000 a year. Let’s be harsh and say that my presentation only accounted for 10% of the decision to stop.

That man saved saved us £100,000.

I wish I could tell the man that wrote the paper, so he can put it in his next impact statement.

Update: Thanks to @dr_andy_russell for pointing out my rather significant typo!

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