Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Funding Cuts

I have a friend who recently retired but still needs to find work in order to pay the bills. My son graduated with honors this past summer and still can't find work. But neither of their stories compares to this.

Douglas Prasher was a researcher in the 1990s at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, where he discovered a jellyfish protein gene that glowed. But he wasn't able to do any further research on it because his lab's funding was cut, so he gave the glowing gene away - for free - to three other scientists who had contacted him about it.

Prasher found work at the Department of Agriculture and from there was hired by NASA's Huntsville, Alabama facility as a contractor. But NASA cut its funding and he was laid off again. He now works as a shuttle van driver for an auto dealership and his savings account is exhausted.

Meanwhile, the three scientists that he gave the gene to will be traveling to Stockholm soon to pick up nearly half a million dollars and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work with a glowing protein gene in jellyfish.

That's just a sad story.



Your job is to discover new ways of applying elbow grease.

The Bunsen burners have been replaced by matchbooks.

You requisition pure sodium ... you get table salt.

Your search for new antibiotics is handed a setback every time the refrigerator gets cleaned out.

You get a little pair of scissors, needle and thread for your gene splicing experiments.

Your microscope will only show objects at actual size.

Laboratory rats are too expensive. Told to use college students, instead.

You can maintain a vacuum only as long as you can inhale.

[Chris White's Top Five on Science with additional material by Mark Raymond]


WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing." (Wernher Von Braun)


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