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Lab Mom

Lab Mom spent 15 years as a Lab Manager in Academia before off-tracking in 2010 to stay at home with her two daughters. She blogs about the juggling act of motherhood and a science career, which encompasses a lot more then the cliche work-life balance.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is it just me or does one's affinity for science extend beyond the lab and office?  I realized the other day, as I was browsing the bookstore for a new fiction book to read on a long plane ride, that my love of all things nerdy has permeated into my entire life.  I don't know why it is, but I can't get enough.

I have mentioned before that of my favorite sitcoms is Big Bang Theory,and I am into [loosely] science-based programming like Mythbusters (controls? Who needs stinkin controls?), Mystery Diagnosis (I LOVE that show if I could just get past my hypochondria), House (I learned it is NEVER Lupus), E.R./Grey's Anatomy (where there is clearly a "sex appeal" screening before being hired as a physician), and Dr.G: Medical Examiner (which reminds us that "every body has a story.")

No, I am not so much a fan of science fiction (think space travel or robotics) but more medical thrillers and scientific experimentation gone awry (think Jurassic Park and The Hot Zone). Although I will confess to enjoying Star Wars sub-genre, much to the delight of LabDad.

I am not a big pleasure reader, I am more of TV girl, but the when I do pick up a book just for fun I always seem to gravitate towards this same genre.

I just finished reading Marker by Robin Cook, who along with the late Michael Crichton, are my absolute favorite authors. The plot of Marker revolves around a big bad insurance company secretly using microarray detection of SNPs in patient samples to evaluate disease susceptibility. In this case the HMO hires mentally unstable thugs to knock off relatively healthy patients who may require expensive insurance payouts down the line (a spoiler any scientist could infer just from reading the book jacket).  And although the explanations of the genetics are simplistic and the condemnation of managed care is overt, I still found it entertaining and enjoyable.

Besides, with a sequencing gel superimposed on the front cover, how could one resist?

I don't know if this preference says anything about me. It would seem that after running 10,000 PCR reactions and thinking about genotypes all day long, the last thing anyone would want to do is sit down and read a book about BRCA testing in a fictional character, or flip on the TV to watch a chemistry grad student act a fool on national TV, but I do.

And yes yes yes.. I have heard it before. That isn't really science. The doctors on Grey's are always breaking HIPAA,  the investigators on CSI are a joke to the profession, you can't clone dinosaurs out of a petrified mosquito and Jamie and Adam only really there to blow shit up.  But maybe that is why I enjoy it.  Because I can suspend reality long enough to sit back and play the 'what ifs.'   What if you could sequence your genome in 15 seconds (a la GATTACA) or what if doctors really used differential diagnosis sketched on a whiteboard to throw out random guesses about a course of treatment? WHAT IF? Wouldn't that be so much more fun than reality?

So I will continue to lose myself in the entertainment (albeit unrealistic) side of science.

I can't help it.

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Dr. Girlfriend
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My postdoc mentor used to be an amateur science fiction writer, but I must confess I never read any of his stuff!

Like you I guess I do gravity toward science fiction. However, I love fantasy and historically-based novels. Anything with dinosaurs, space-travel, or ancient Egypt appeals to me. Given half the chance I would be cloning dinosaurs right now.  After become addicted to House I found myself looking into med-school, but by the time I discovered Lie-to-me I realised I love learning about science more than doing it.

For me science fiction has to be believable. My pet peeve with Star Trek (and I absolutely love Star Trek) was the interspecies couplings – we cannot interbreed with other species on earth, so how the hell can we do it with people who evolved on different planets?

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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I'm the opposite.  When I see people on Grey's break protocol, it really pisses me off.  Like the Drug trial they're doing now?  They open the envelope and the lead of the study is told which patients get the drug and which get the placebo??  What happened to double blinging things like that :P

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I have to agree someone asked me why I dont read for fun almost ever and I realized its because I rather read journals. Though here and there I do read. I highly recommend "The Disapearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of madness, love and history of the world from the Periodic Table" by Sam Kean A friend of mine bought it for me and I have really enjoyed it. I am trying out some episodes of Big Bang Theory. Have not watched that one yet.

PS Greys is much nicer to watch with all the eye candy I admit. -drools- science medecine and pretty people... oh yeah


Brian I totally know what you mean. As soon as they did that on Grey's I was pissed. But for the most part the shows stay fairly true. I mean there are some pretty bad mistakes but it happens b/c there are not enough scientific writers. I have a friend that does screen writing and they are deperate in hollywood for scientists to look over and help science scripts. They pay big money but most scientists want to do science so ther in lies the problem. (And by scientists I mean PhD scientists) So if anyone is looking for a job... :)

Lab Mom
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Brian Krueger, PhD said:

I'm the opposite.  When I see people on Grey's break protocol, it really pisses me off.  Like the Drug trial they're doing now?  They open the envelope and the lead of the study is told which patients get the drug and which get the placebo??  What happened to double blinging things like that :P

Oh that drives me up the wall too.  But I still like to watch it.  Since honestly, admit it, it woudl be way cooler to do an experiment like that un-blinded.


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