We're a little crazy, about science!

The first glimpse!

woman standing on broken stairs leading up to sky in the distance

Well I don’t want to say we have something… but we have something! Okay, so I guess we should back up a little bit. A few days ago we collected some data using an idea I had, my “big idea.” This was the first time we did this experiment the way I really wanted to do it, but not the first experiment, so we had a really good shot of getting some good data. Shortly after we finished the experiment I did some quick checks and we did, in fact, have data. Now the question was, what did it all mean?

It’s been a long time coming. Almost a full year since I came up with my idea and several iterations of testing and experiments later, here we are. As of last week we had our first (of hopefully many) datasets. Over the weekend I spent so, so many hours chipping away at the dataset trying to get it processed and organized. The data are continuous recordings, so among the few thousand samples a second we take, over the course of hours, lives the little chunks of data that are interesting to us as researchers. The problem is finding those chunks of data and pulling them out.

I crammed several weeks worth of work into a few days and as of last night I had a rough answer to our question. The question being, does what we want to do actually work? The short answer is yes. Which is good because it should work, I mean physics and all. So what does it all mean, where do we go from here, and can I talk about the big idea directly yet?

Again short answers, it means it works, collect more data, and no.

Longer answers, since this works at least in one of the tested conditions (I took the “easiest” to process and looked at that first) I need to go and make fancy figures, clean up the data a little to make everything look nice and pretty, then have a long discussion with hospital-PI about speeding up data collection because at this rate it will be about a decade before we can publish anything and that’s just far too long. It also means that I’ve created a whole new field of research, which is pretty neat if I do say so myself! Being the first means I get first grab at basically all the “easy” stuff, which is not easy, but not as time consuming to research. So not too bad considering I’m still technically a student, as far as the hospital goes I’m a professional, but I still think of myself as a student since I still don’t have that sweet, sweet PhD yet… soon!

Where do we go from here, well that’s a bit of a tough question to answer. The truth is there are a lot of ways we could spin this out and I think that alone speaks volumes about the versatility of big idea. Personally, I have several different interests I would like to pursue and none of those I can really discuss at this point, but they are all equally awesome and will change a lot of the ways we do things. I’m very hopeful basically, I mean there’s still a lot of validation we need to do, but I’m like 98% confident now that we will be able to do some really cool stuff with this. The nice thing is now that we have data from the experiment done exactly the way I wanted, we can write a grant and ask for some money to get good equipment, which would make my life much easier!

Can I talk about it yet? Long answer, nooooooooooooooooo. Okay, a bit of detail to it. Heck no. But seriously, not until we publish something, I’m hopeful it’s coming soon. Maybe we can relax our criteria a bit now, maybe not, I’m not sure yet. The trick is figuring out how many people we need for a good study (that’s a function of what we call effect size), which we can use our early experiments and this experiment to determine now and figure out how many we need for a good statistically significant result. I’m thinking anywhere from 5-10 based on early calculations, but 5 would be the minimum and this dataset may not even count since it was basically a pilot. That brings me back to the, we need to hurry up point, because even if we only need four more people that’s a lot of years between now and finishing at this rate.

As you might imagine I’m very excited about all this. Hospital-PI responded with his normal level of enthusiasm, which is to say he pointed out several possible issues with my result. Luckily I had some handy citations to help back up what I was saying and he hasn’t responded yet because he’s traveling at the moment, but I’m pretty sure it will be a convincing argument, even for him. He wants more data before we celebrate and I don’t blame him, but I’m excited all the same and I cannot wait to publish our findings.

As you can imagine it’s been a big weekend. I will probably take a slower pace looking at the rest of the data, but I’m happy that we have an answer, or at least at tentative one.


2 responses

  1. Awww yeah you did it!! Congratulations again, friend.

    Now that the project has a little momentum, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to speed things up a bit. Is there any chance of finding additional people who can refer participants to you, do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    July 18, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    • Thank you! It’s been a wild time. So much data processing and there’s still so much to do!

      There’s some logistical issues that we’ve been running into and we have somewhat strict recruitment requirements (IRB related so we can’t do anything about it unless we want to modify the IRB). I think we can speed it up a bit and I’m hoping we can coordinate something to help.

      Now that we have one we may be able to work something out. I have a feeling we’ve missed a lot of people because the person who’s referring us possible participants has forgotten or didn’t think about it. Basically it won’t take years to finish this, it can’t, it’s just a matter of how to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 19, 2022 at 10:21 am

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