Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Petri Life

Bingo. We'd done it. We just created life in a Petri dish. Living cells constructed from inanimate matter.

I watched him from a distance, examining the dish under the microscope. His body language did not show the same excitement that his eyes did. I could tell he was positively astounded that we'd come up with results like this. I continued to watch him from across the lab, enviously noting his brilliance.
John was still, yet his hands adjusted the microscope with precision. He was truly an artist. An artist tweaking and judging his finest creation. Life.
As his lab assistant, the science behind it was way above me. All I could really grasp was assembling proteins and particles and zapping them with electrons. All of the real science must be locked in some dark corner of that man's brain. It must be a labyrinthian prison of knowledge. I continued to study his face from across the lab. The surgical white light created a halo over his head. He finally collected his pipette and added an amber dye to the dish. I decided that now would be a good time to break the silence, and approach the master.
My steps echoed off the polished lab floor. Still he did not look up from his microscope. The stage of the microscope must be a divine symphony for him, and he, the conductor. It held his complete focus. He was now making detailed scribbles on his yellow note pad. My steps still did not perturb him. I was right next to him.
" John."
" Yes, Nick? "
" Just wondering how the research is going. I can't believe we've actually created life."
"Indeed. It is rather interesting."
The words stopped for an awkward moment. I could see his wrinkled face was still deep in thought about the Petri dish.
"When do we go public with this?”
His face turned beet red. He looked up irately from his microscope.
"It is entirely too soon to even consider such a feeble thought."
His breathing was heavy. He was clearly taken back by such a comment. I apologized and backed away like a shamed puppy.
I walked back to my desk, and pretended to be busy with paperwork, yet I continued to study the scientist from afar. He was tinkering and testing to no end. I could see years of dedication carved into his face. His hands did not shake. He was born to do this.
It was now 2:30 in the morning. My eyes were craving sleep. However, as I looked over at the scientist, he was still alert, active. Prodding and noting. I decided to go over and seek permission to leave.
My steps sounded like a marching band. I tried to muffle them, but it wouldn't be done. John looked up and watched me as I approached.
"I'm exhausted, can I go home and get some sleep?"
"Ah yes. It is getting late. Probably a good time to call it a day. Good work today Nicolas.”
I took that as permission to leave. I knew that he would continue to work through the night however. He was a man committed to his craft. I left the laboratory and headed home.
As my head hit the pillow, I expected to be asleep. My body would not have it. I could not stop thinking about the discovery. All I could see in my mind was John, busy at work, unrelenting. I had sleep hallucinations about him shooting electricity from his fingers into the Petri dish. Nurturing cells to life, like some robotic grandfather.
Finally my alarm went off, and I headed back to the laboratory in a rush. Today could be another breakthrough day. I pushed open the lab door and expected to see the doctor still busy at work from last night. He was strangely absent. Likely he was out getting coffee. I went back to the incubator to look at the Petri dish. It was absent. Strange. Perhaps it was being handled somewhere else. I headed to the main workstation and noticed that John’s logbook was placed cover up, quite orderly. It was left in such a way that I knew he wanted me to see something. I opened the thick journal. All of the pages were blank, the data gone. I noticed a slip of paper that had fallen out. All it said was, " The world is not ready".

No comments:

Post a Comment