I’m typing this letter while sitting in a car on the side of U.S. Highway 26 near a tiny rest stop in Wyoming. A line of cars, hundreds deep, stretches in front and behind me. As far as I can see, not much would awaken such a ruckus in this sleepy little pocket of the Cowboy State—other than a chance to witness the moon eclipse the sun, completely, for nearly two minutes! The Wyoming wind has whipped away any threat of cloud cover, and we all sit quietly in our vehicles, waiting for what many have described as a once-in-a-lifetime, mind-altering experience. A perfectly black moon surrounded by the enchantment of the sun’s corona.
I know what you’re thinking. What does this have to do with a fellows’ newsletter at the NICHD? Or maybe I’ve completely lost you to an Internet search for pictures of the eclipse. For those who are still reading, I’ll explain.
An eclipse offers a moment to be awe-struck, suspending belief that such an experience could never occur. Nothing quite prepares you for the first time you remove your protective glasses to witness what looks like a bottomless hole in the sky. It’s the same feeling I get when I read about a scientific breakthrough or a researcher’s attempt to do the unimaginable. That sense of wow, is this really happening?
An eclipse and groundbreaking science share a wow factor, but there is a major difference. The intensity of an eclipse lasts for but a few minutes—if you’re lucky. It’s fleeting. But the outcomes of research have an infinite impact. A single discovery has the potential to alter the course of humanity. Now that’s jaw dropping.
Check out this issue’s front-page article about NICHD Director Dr. Diana Bianchi’s research, and you’ll see what I mean.
Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD
Questions, comments, or ideas? Send us an email at Shana.Spindler@gmail.com. We love to hear from you!