Monday, December 22, 2008

Science and distant relatives

Over the past weekend I had the pleasure of spending some time with relatives of my wife. A couple that I met for the first time, I had a lot to talk about: The husband is a scientist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and so it was a great chance for me to talk science. I have been out of research for 7 years, so he probably didn't get anything out of it, but I learned a lot and really enjoyed our conversations. The wife has a lot in common with me too. She just took up marathon running and is working on an MBA. I finished mine a while ago, but we still had lots of notes to compare.

Oh, also their twin girls are the same age as our youngest girl and my sister had twin girls; so there was lots of kid-stuff to talk about. So just what do I mean by distant relatives? Okay, here is how they are related...

Step 1. My wife's cousin: Me to my wife, then her to her mom, her mom to a sibling and then that sibling to her daughter (The Cousin).

Step 2. The cousin's husband.

Step 3. The husband's sister is the wife from above and of course, her husband is the scientist.

If you count it all up, there are 7 degrees of separation between me and the scientist. I am pretty sure there is a shorter path too: When I worked for Affymetrix I dealt with scientists at Roswell Park, so that would be only 2 or three degrees of separation.

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