Friday, October 31, 2008

just in time for halloween: something truly scary

Frankly, she just doesn't compare to Jeff Goldblum. But then, who does?

I'm of course talking about Sarah Palin's remake of "The Fly," in which she disses...well, pretty much all of science while attempting to talk about earmark spending. The scientific community is a little too polite to say "Fuck you, you ignorant bitch," but then, I'm not a scientist.

My dad is, though. He's a biochemist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh. And he's got some colleagues around the world who, in addition to being pretty cool, are so smart that it kind of makes me want to cry. Like Jerry Coyne.

Because I grew up in a house with a scientist, I'm sure I have a little more insight into the way research works than the average person. Certain people (dumb ones) like to deride science (personifying it as though it's a sentient being, which makes me want to stab wildly in all directions until I hit something) for seemingly wacky experiments. But as is explained in the linked article above, (seriously, read it -- it's not long and it's well-written) these "wacky" experiments are how we gain insight into, um, pretty much everything.

A few years ago, my father went to Norway to collect a specific type of jellyfish in order to conduct research on its venom. Oh, how hilarious -- hanging off the side of a boat in Scandinavia with a net! And I know it does sound pretty funny. If it weren't being done for the purposes of research, those would be the actions of a crazy person.

But the point of this research is to develop a drug which will be a powerful pain reliever that won't have any of the side effects associated with drugs like morphine, et cetera, in that it will relieve pain while leaving the patient fully alert. If you've ever seen someone you love lying in a hospital bed doped out of her mind, you can understand how much this research is needed and how much of an impact it will have on people's lives.

The next usual thing people say is something along the lines of, "Then why do we have unnecessary things like Viagra if all research has such important intentions?" Because that's not how drug research works. No one set out to invent a boner pill. It was originally intended as a treatment for hypertension. It just happened to have a certain side effect. And those researchers were, how shall I put this -- not stupid. Although given the frequency with which I am subjected to Enzyte commercials (which are the same thing as Viagra, in case anyone's wondering) I kind of wish they were.

I'm not claiming that every single research endeavor intends to or has the possibility to change the world. And many an experiment with noble intentions has fallen flat or had horrible repercussions. Just think of all the horror the planet has endured as a result of the creation of the atomic bomb, the least of which being world leaders who can't pronounce "nuclear."

Just because something might sound strange doesn't mean that it is. So maybe if you aren't in any way associated with any branch of science, even peripherally like I am, you should probably consult with somebody who understands these things before you embarrass yourself.

In conclusion, and happy Halloween:

Seth Brundle: If secondary element is fly, what happened to fly?
Computer: Fusion.
Seth Brundle: Assimilation? Did Brundle absorb fly?
Computer: Negative. Fusion of Brundle and fly at molecular-genetic level.

2 comments:

S said...

That's church!

Oh, and Viagra is a wonderful drug. It might actually cure old men dying before their wives. They'll have something to live for...even if there's a chance their wife might feel randy, they have the opportunity to pop a pill and get some of Ethel's honeypot.

honeykbee said...

Pretty sure I've never uttered this phrase before, but it now seems crazy that more people aren't hanging off the sides of boats in Scandinavia.