In case you weren’t aware, today is ‘World Laboratory Day’. This website tells us that “World Laboratory Day celebrates the place where great discoveries, inventions, and medical cures are born. It’s also where mad scientists dwell.” I was actually going to go in a completely different direction upon hearing the name of the holiday – something more to do with celebrating your international collaborators, thanking that company 3,000 miles away for making the small molecule you want to do assays with, or sharing the candy that someone brought back from a recent conference overseas… I also have to take issue with the poor grammar of the sentence (gosh, I really have become a nerd!), which suggests to me that mad scientists dwell in World Laboratory Day, which seems a bit unusual (unless World Laboratory Day is frozen in time like Brigadoon, perhaps? Ok, enough randomness.).
Although a lot of screen time is given to mad scientists in movies, TV shows, and even the news (nothing says ‘Watch the 11:00 news’ like a scientist raving about time machines or cloning him/herself), I don’t see a lot of true scientific content devoted to these beloved figures. For example, a friend of mine suggested there could be a journal just for research from mad scientists (plots to take over the world, new kinds of poisons, etc., which would have the side benefit of making it extremely easy to fight terrorism (by arresting all the corresponding authors)), but there could also be conference sessions or entire conferences devoted to ‘Ways to create living matter using a corpse’s brain’ or ‘How to accidentally change the size of your family members so that they get lost in your back yard and hilarity ensues’. What about special grants programs for people working on cloning dinosaurs into frog eggs, or switching faces back and forth? Really, I think this is a whole section of the science community we’ve been ignoring for too long. Unfortunately, most of these ideas don’t really tie in to chemistry very well… perhaps we chemists are just too normal for all that silliness?
Anyway, I’m off to see if I can find some nice European chocolate. Hooray for globalization!
Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)