At a recent AGU meeting (2016), I sat on a panel of isotope geochemists that included John Hayes, Ed Young (UCLA), John Eiler (Caltech), Max Coleman (JPL). We each took a couple minutes to tell the audience about what we thought was important for young isotope geoscientists to consider. Eiler gave a strong pitch for knowing exactly how the instrumentation works, essentially saying that if you don’t understand the finer points of mass spectroscopy, you should find another line of research. John Hayes politely inserted himself and disagreed. “Without a strong scientific question to drive you, it’s not enough to...

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