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“A Discovery in Plain View” 

The hardest work of the last quarter of the twentieth century is to find
An edge in the middle...

Arizona’s poet laureate Alberto Ríos often dramatizes the delight of discovering the extraordinary in the everyday. His poems show the rewards of the unremarked—suddenly remembering the technical term for a glacier’s farthest reach, the curious influence of the body’s smallest muscle, and, after hearing a loud noise, looking away to see what no one else notices. 

In an interview with writer Leslie A. Wootten, Ríos said, “One of the things I try to do in my life and poetry is to nurture keener sensitivity and sharper awareness—that is to say, seek out the edge, the epiphany, the fingersnap, that exists in the middle, which is where we least expect to find these things and never think to look.” 

Describing his aims as a poet in a way that could equally apply to the work of scientists, Ríos continued, “A discovery where you expect to find one is a wonderful thing, but a discovery that is not where you expect, a discovery in plain view—this is doubly wonderful, and feeds us rather than leads us.”

Read the poem “Some Extensions on the Sovereignty of Science.”

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EVENT: SEPTEMBER 22, 2022
On September 22, 2022, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in collaboration with The Kavli Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Issues in Science and Technology, will host the Endless Frontier Symposium 2022: Research and Higher Education Institutions for the Next 75 Years. The symposium will bring together experts and leaders from across the world to consider the transformations needed from research and higher education institutions in the next 75 years to better address global challenges.
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Header illustration by Shonagh Rae.
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