Editor's note

Dale Keiger, editor

Image caption: Dale Keiger

I am, by nature, a meanderer.

I never met a digression, a side street, a side interest that I didn't want to follow. Many times a day I do follow them, contrary to the counsel of productivity experts—productivity being one of my side interests— who emphasize focus, the direct path, the unwavering progress toward drawing a straight, bold red line through the top item on my prioritized list of action steps.

When I read the opening pages of Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson's cover story on the new science of astrobiology ("Are We Flying Solo," p. 38), I derived no small satisfaction from noting biologist Jocelyne DiRuggiero's meandering path as a scientist. She started with studying what happens in the microscopic confines of cells—cells that make up microorganisms that somehow flourish in the most inhospitable places, like deep-sea volcanic vents. Then came a day when it made sense to put some of her tiny subjects in the nose of a rocket and launch them beyond the atmosphere. Suddenly a side door opened, and DiRuggiero wandered from deep sea to deep space. Might there be exoplanets orbiting distant stars that could harbor life? And what form might that life assume?

I have before me a brochure for prospective Johns Hopkins students. The cover reads "Curiosity Welcome," and on an inside page there is this: "We can't resist following a hunch, chasing down a lead, going where that spark takes us."

Going where that spark takes us. However meandering the path.

Dale Keiger signature

Dale Keiger

Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor via email to jhmagazine@jhu.edu. (We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style, clarity, and civility.)