This week I have been contemplating an upcoming opportunity to give an invited talk, in 10 minutes or less, on what is most interesting in my subfield of the physical sciences. The audience will be a broad, national audience of researchers. In terms of speakers, I am the sole representative of My Field of Science. I'm rather fascinated by this challenge, and have been thinking about it a lot, talking to colleagues, and drafting the outlines of my brief presentation.
I've seen these brief presentations done before, and I am always naively surprised when a speaker concludes that the most interesting thing in science is .. the speaker's own research. I suppose that's in part a reflection of the fact that we are all most fascinated by our own research topic, but even so, it should be possible to give a broader view.
It should be possible, but it's difficult. It's difficult in part because our own research field is what we each know best and feel most comfortable talking about. Nevertheless, I am striving for a brief presentation that is interesting and compelling, that generates discussion, and that only includes mention of my own research field in its broadest context. OK, so that's probably impossible, but I want to see if I can achieve some of those goals, at least in part.
An additional challenge is that I've been doing so much talking and traveling in recent weeks that I've acquired whatever illness 87% of the people on my recent long flights seem to have had (based on all the coughing I heard), and I've lost my voice. I have to give 4 talks varying in length from 10-50 minutes this week and teach one more class. Typing the keywords 'sore throat miracle cure' into Google led to the information that I should gargle with cayenne pepper, but maybe I'm not that desperate yet.
8 years ago