Numerous were the nights I spent with beer and a fellow researcher on a pub somewhere in the world, talking about different angles of science and research and odd ideas. From when I started my Ph.D. and it is still happening (as in last night after the CL finals for example). There is a trail of half-finished experiments, finished but not used experiments, and some made it to papers (usually small papers), and in a few cases other groups and laboratories took over and produced papers (also small papers, but still papers) with an origin in a pub-night I was a part of. And quit often a pub night with Love actually (but other people have been on the other side of the table too during the years).
These ideas rarely make it to the big journals (although quit a few make it to some journal). And some of them dies on the way. But it is a type of “outside the box” creativity, fueled by some kind of passion for science, that I think is both healthy and useful. It is social, it is creative, it generates new methods and results otherwise untested, and a broader understanding for the field. One thing I want to do with my research-group in the future is to somehow fertilize this spontaneous and “outside the box” part of our research. I have not figured out how yet, but I will think of something.
The fox-track paper was one of these