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Highly Accessed Comment

Dominoes

Gregory A Petsko

Author Affiliations

Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454-9110, USA

Genome Biology 2011, 12:134  doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-11-134

Published: 30 November 2011

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

Somewhere in Washington, DC (or maybe London, or Brussels, or Tokyo), a science administrator makes a decision. A group of well-known scientists from prestigious institutions has recommended a new Big Science Program. It will generate reams of data, they say, that will lead to new insights into an important biomedical problem. It will impress Congress with our vision and productivity. It will garner great press. And it will only cost US$100 million, less than 3% of the budget of the administrator's agency. The administrator realizes what being associated with such a big, important activity will do for his prestige and chances for advancement. He goes to see his boss, the head of the agency, and recommends to her that the project be approved. She, too, recognizes the opportunity that such a project represents to enhance her own standing among her peers, and to facilitate the advocacy for her budget with political leaders. The Big Science Program even has a sexy name and a memorable acronym. She approves it, funding it at $100 million a year for 5 years. What she doesn't realize is that, in so doing, she has tipped over a little black rectangular tile, with a line dividing its face into two square ends, each end being marked with a number of spots.