MOTHER works in a laboratory
and is responsible for keeping tissue cultures alive. So that she won't forget, she writes
"feed cells" on her calendar. One day she noticed that someone had scribbled in
"take cells for a walk." By the end of the month, a number of anonymous
reminders had been added: "Take cells to Disneyland," "Cells on
vacation," "Cells back" and, on Yom Kippur, "Jewish cells get the day
BYRON LICHTENBERG, biomedical engineer and payload specialist aboard
reports that meal time in gravity free space can get pretty tricky: "It was very
difficult to put together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while in space. Making a
sliced beef and cheese spread was a little bit easier you just got everything out
and floating, and then sort of clumped it together. "Peanuts were the most fun to
eat. At first I opened the bag and tried to just pour them into my mouth, but that didn't
work. Then I pulled the bag down, but all the peanuts stayed where they were, so that
there were twenty peanuts floating around inside the module. I had to chase them down with
my mouth kind of like Pac-Man."
ON MY first day of work in a chemical research laboratory, I was intrigued by a
complicated apparatus at the end of my workbench. It consisted of some expensive-looking
glassware projecting from a five litre flask that nestled in an electric heating mantle.
Every few minutes a white-coated scientist would go over and make adjustments. By
mid morning, I could contain my curiosity no longer and asked what the desired result was.
"Coffee," he said. "Would you like a cup?"
MY SON, while living in Canada, was working in the United
States, so he had to cross the border frequently. During his late-night crossings he found
the customs officers were less busy and more inclined to talk, and on one occasion he was
asked what he did. "I'm a geneticist." "Really? What
animal do you work with?" "Fruit flies." "Oh, just a
TWO scientists are in front of an open door. A sign above
reads, "Recombinant DNA Lab. Authorized Personnel Only." Through the
door, seated amid the lab's high-tech equipment, can be seen an old witch stirring a
bubbling cauldron. One scientist says to the other, "She's from the old school,
but she really knows her stuff."