A very wise lecturer of mine from many years ago once told me that I wouldn’t remember a thing she had taught me by the time I reached my PhD. I was horrified at the thought of all those hours at the books, faithfully regurgitating answers for exams, to have it all disappear in to the dark, dark recesses of my grey matter.

I’m preparing to move office and while I pack all my papers I keep finding lecture notes, and old scribblings that would make me so very knowledgeable (or at least useful in a game of trivial pursuit) if only I could remember the details. I even picked up a paper recognizing the handwriting as my own, but I don’t remember reading the paper. This is not entirely surprising as it was something I read back at the beginning of my PhD and to be honest I had highlighted all the wrong bits anyway….

I miss the days of knowing everything, and I’m not just talking about when I was 21 and thought I knew everything. I mean at the end of a semester, when you have mastered the coursework….you_know_everything. You do. You were told you need to know X, Y & Z, and if you know X, Y & Z you know everything. Now, with each passing day it would appear I know less. X became the entire ocean, Y the instrumentation used to understand the entire ocean, and Z is statistics. No one understands Z.

The point is that said lecturer was right. For most of us unless you use the information regularly you tend to forget the detail, but hopefully it is the fundamental concepts that stay with you. And when in doubt, which I often am, I listen to podcasts. If first year earth science is a distant memory, or perhaps you are coming to us from a different field, then I highly recommend Dr Christian Shorey’s podcast on Earth And Environmental Sciences. He has taught this oceanographer more about rocks than she ever hoped (or needed) to know.

Click here for any one of his 67(!) episodes.