This week I had one of those disheartening experiences that happens every now and then in science: a collaborator and I discovered that something we had been working on has already been done. The competing paper had been out for about a year, but we missed it (even more embarassingly, I knew about the paper, but hadn’t read it carefully enough). Alas, this means that our world-shaking result isn’t exactly new, and we’re struggling to rescue what we’ve done and apply it in a new direction. (Work is very rarely completely wasted.)