Stuck with your research? – Kaffeehaus

Remember the time when I was stuck with my research on combinatorial complexity in multi-state proteins, because I could not get the money to build a massive library on the moon? (Don’t you hate it when that happens?)

So, what did I do to solve the problem? I will answer this question in a minute, but let’s look at some poetry first.

One of my favourite poems is from Austrian poet Peter Altenberg, and it’s called “Kaffeehaus” (coffee house). The poem lists all sorts of possible problems that a person might encounter, and offers a solution to each of them. The problems span the whole breadth of the human experience (including not being able to find love, hating and despising mankind, but not being able to live without it, or being a civil servant when one would have liked to be a doctor – don’t you hate it when that happens?). The solution is always the same: “Kaffeehaus.” If you read German, check it out here.

This poem says something very important about the Austrian way of life. Friends from abroad, if you are still confused about the difference between Austria and Australia, consider our very different approaches to problem solving. When Australians have a problem, they move it out of the way with their own bare hands. When Austrians have a problem, well … we go have coffee. So much so that we have an entire literary genre that originated in, and talks about, coffee houses (“Kaffeehausliteratur”), of which the above poem is a prime example.

So, when I hit a roadblock with my research … – Kaffeehaus, of course! And it turned out to be a fantastic decision, because a lot of good things happened after that. I would tell you about them all, but it’s nearly coffee time. I am sure you understand.


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