You are the only person working within a fifty-mile radius

The entire geographical footprint of a college campus illuminated all night every night, gently enhancing its desolation during the weekend. During the school week the university belongs to no one. It buzzes and throbs with people coming and going. But the whole place is different on a Friday at midnight, when the university belongs to you. Smug in the presumption that you are the only person working within a fifty-mile radius, you accomplish just enough to feel justified in being naughty. In the rhythm of these Friday nights beats the honest, humble heart of science, and it also explains how discovery and mischief are two sides of the very same coin.

– Hope Jahren, Lab Girl

I now live on campus at Prek Leap National College of Agriculture in a brand new block of flats built for senior lab staff for the new Chinese-built agricultural testing laboratory. I'm the only person living in the building. They just told me to pick any flat I wanted, so I picked the top corner flat on the 4th floor that has a lovely view of the Mekong River.

My office and our server room are less than a minute walk from where I live. This is a sleepy little college which is about 10km from the Japanese Bridge which crosses over the Tonle Sap into the heart of Phnom Penh. Ten kilos isn't very far, but it might as well be thirty. It feels like a rural college, peaceful and slow paced and so laid back at times you'd think you were in Laos, not Cambodia.

Hope Jahren captured the feeling of working on campus in the wee hours of the morning. You feel like the only person alive, with only the chorus of frogs outside providing a soundtrack or the odd gecko chiming in, to make sure you didn't forget he was living in the crack in the concrete the wall in the concrete just outside your door. It's a liberating feeling, far from the psychic noise of all those people crowded in around you on the other side of every wall in the city.

As Hope observed, it's not about how much work you can do, but the freedom to do the kind of work you want and should be doing….

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