Following a mind-expanding day of bioinformtics at InCoB 2014 earlier this year, we had repaired to a nearby restaurant for the conference dinner.
- (with Asif M Khan) how the major histocompatibility complex helps our immune system adapt in response to new diseases
- (with Tin Wee Tan) how the Infiniband system used for high-speed data transfer inside supercomputers can be co-opted to provide insanely fast data transfer over tens of kilometres (e.g., across a city)
- (with Asif and Tin Wee after some beers) plans for a pre-emptive intervention system for world peace
...talk turned to bioinformatics learning, education and training, following a lively discussion session (which I will be writing about soon) involving Vicky Schneider (TGAC, GOBLET), Michelle Brazas (bioinformatics.ca, GOBLET), a quartet of COMBINErs, and a roomful of enthusiasts.
So, what did we regard as the truly killer ninja skill in bioinformatics?
- the coding skills of Donald Knuth?
- the ability to leap tall data sets in a single command?
- the statistical prowess of Carl Friedrich Gauss?
We figured that the absolute killer ninja skill for bioinformaticians was:
the ability to learn stuff fast, and apply it well.
(OK, we may have to work on the phrasing a bit there, but it is still catchier than "metalearning".)
Like gene and protein expression, these sorts of opinions are time- and environment-dependent. However, on reflection, it speaks of one of the defining features of bioinformatics and bioscience these days: things change... fast.
...not so sure what is says about ninjas though.