Mar 13
Book Learnin’
icon4 Mar 13th, 2009 | icon2 Science |

Rach and I recently took out a subscription to Science magazine. According to their website, Science is the “world’s leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary”. Who am I to argue?

You see, Rach is currently doing a PhD in plant ecology, and I have a couple of pieces of paper from universities myself – including a science degree – so we felt a subscription to one of the world’s most popular and prestigious scholarly journals would not be out of our intellectual league.

Last week we received our first issue in the post. I couldn’t wait to get it out of its plastic sleeve. All that new scientific knowledge just waiting to be ingested into my otherwise dormant gray matter. But as I started flicking through the articles a terrible realisation hit me. I had grossly overestimated my own intelligence.

Let’s have a look at Vol. 323 No. 5917, which is the first issue we received in the mail.

The cover is pretty. It has an illustration of what looks like a cell membrane, above which two proteins are engaged in some sort of molecular dogfight. (Imagine machine gun noises and the sound of a Messerschmitt spiralling to earth in a roaring fireball.)

OK, turn the page. It’s an advertisement … at least that’s what I think it is. The text promises “research products for the study of important signal transduction pathways”. All right! Riveting stuff. Below the text is a list of about a hundred alphanumeric codes (e.g. FGF-R4, KHS1/MAP4K5) the cryptic meanings of which are utterly beyond my knowledge or understanding.

The ads on the following pages are equally mystifying. “The WAVE Bioreactor, with its novel rocking motion, is a fast and efficient system for inoculum propogation” … “Improved transfection” … (Huh? What the fuck is “transfection”?) “You need the best electroporation technology available, but you also want the ability to transfect primary cells with a flexible system. We understand.” Great, because I certainly don’t.

Most of the articles are in the same vein, only much longer and more complicated. Oh, hang on, here’s one about truffles. I’ll come back to that one. And here’s one on plate tectonics, that’s something I have a vague understanding of; better bookmark it.

The articles in Science cover the spectrum of scientific disciplines, everything from cell biology to applied physics and engineering. Nobody could fully understand every article. Perhaps I should be happy to have an interesting article to read about truffles. (Hmm, must be almost dinner time.)

On the other hand, maybe I should’ve kept my subscription to Metal Hammer instead.

One Response

  1. A Gal Says:

    I can appreciate that somewhat, although its on a smaller scale in covering the animal kingdom, I feel quite insecure with all the guys at work reading “Zoo” magazine weekly. Every week the digressive knowledge tree sits well worn on the toilet floors, like leave in the autumm…