From my heart and from my hand, why don’t people understand, my intention?
Last Saturday one of my favorite authors was at a local SciFi bookstore – and holy crap did you know entire bookstores dedicated JUST to that genre existed? Anyway so this author, Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant from my Zombie-back ribs) performed a reading of her short story that is part of a larger anthology titled “The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius”
I know right?!
It’s a fantastically awesome anthology theme and the stories most certainly support it. I can’t say I’m totally impartial about which one is my favorite so I’m not going to dive into that too much but rather speak about the event which focused quite a bit on the field of “Mad” Science. As a scientist in a highly disputed field, biotechnology, I often would have debates with people both in and outside the science world about this one question: if we can do it, should we? It seems to me that quite often in both stories, and real life, when the scientist ignores the second part of that question is when things get a bit “mad.” Sometimes it’s a deliberate ignoring of consequences and sometimes it seems to be that the brilliant mind is so divested from reality, he or she can’t see that what is happening is wrong. In those situations the scientist is so convinced that their intentions are noble, that the ends are so important, the means hardly matter. In my tiny little opinion that’s where the “mad” part of mad science creeps in. It’s almost like a fever that takes over and clouds the ability to make sound judgment calls.
While it’s highly exaggerated in fictional form, there are a lot of real world scary “mad” science things we could be doing today that are prevented only by morality. We could, for example, clone a human being. Today. We have the technology. The implications of such an act are what keeps scientists from doing it. Rumors have emerged from time to time that China has done it – you choose to believe what you want there—but I don’t doubt that someday, someone somewhere, will toss consequences over his/her shoulder and actually make it happen. Which leads to another interesting question about this kind of “fringe” science: if we can do it, shouldn’t we do it since someone else will and at least doing it first means we can control what happens? Oh another delicious, delectable moral qualm that makes for amazing pieces of speculative fiction. I wonder how often this was discussed by the members of the Manhattan project. I really need to read more about that…. Damn it goodreads list, why do you keep growing??
My biggest frustration though with “mad” science is how often things get labeled as “Frankenscience” when the truth is so few people really understand the science they fear. Oh god. See right there? That can definitely be the refrain of someone who is “going mad” can’t it? But it has some truth to it. Like I said I majored in the field of Biotechnology and get very frustrated with people who hold strong opinions on the subject of genetically engineered food yet understand almost nothing about it. These individuals would most certainly call me a mad scientist for supporting certain applications of the technology—or for my personal desire to develop luminescent trees to line streetwalks with. Aside from how freaking pretty that would be, it’s like the ultimate form of green energy. Oh and yes I THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE SEEING AVATAR OKAY? Ironically enough, while we could clone a human being today, developing these trees is still outside our realm as I currently understand it. Many people are familiar with GFP, green fluorescent protein, which could work but requires a black light to be seen. From what I’m aware of, experiments that utilize luciferase (the protein that lets fireflies light up) have failed to produce enough protein to make any impact without overloading the cell machinery and killing the plants. Again though I haven’t looked into this in a few years and I really should read up on it.
Okay new mad science project: time machine for the purposes of reading.
But back to the book, it’s fantastic and it’s certainly been helping me cope with a lack of good mad science-y television since Fringe left me. There’s nothing remotely close now on regular programming to scratch that itch. I feel like the show left the table without asking to be excused and so, much like a beloved scene, I demand Fringe return to the table. Why? I made some Peanut Butter Bacon Sandwiches damn it. Now there’s some REAL mad science
WALTER: Megif avagin frim dim Tish.
LINCOLN: Excuse me?
WALTER: It’s Yiddish. It means “May I please be excused from the table?” No, you may not.
LINCOLN: Why not?
WALTER: Because I have just made some peanut butter and bacon sandwiches.
Not to be an underachiever I didn’t simply fry up some bacon and slap it onto a sandwich. Oh no. I decided that this application should be far more like peanut butter and jelly. So what did I do? I made Bacon Jam. Why? BECAUSE I CAN.
Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. This stuff can be slathered on anything. It can go in frittatas. It can be eaten straight with a spoon. I do really love it with some chunky peanut butter in the end; it’s just so damn tasty.
Olivia’s Mad Bacon Jam
An Olivia Original Read more