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Seriously Though (or, Not Funny or Sexy, but Important)

I am a scientist.

For many people, “scientist” is a bad word.  After all, don’t we as evil scientists try our best to destroy the planet in every movie, television show, novel, etc.?

Trust me.  If we wanted the world destroyed, it would already be gone.

And I am an older scientist.  One who remembers the “Good Old Days” before we were hampered with so many laws, rules and regulations.  When I was a Baby Scientist, we could pretty much do whatever we wanted with impunity.  Now we have governments telling us what and what cannot use when they have very little grasp of basic chemistry.

We didn’t always know what we were doing, but hey!  We made penicillin, cured rabies, fought off many diseases while creating products to make life easier for you.

But that doesn’t mean everything that we can do, should be done.

Let me rephrase that.  It doesn’t mean that everything we can do (and we did) should be told to the public.

CALM DOWN!

Let me give you two recent examples in the OTC/Cosmetic world.

1) It was discovered that using coral scientists created a new sunscreen.   Should it have been tried?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Should we have told the public?  NO!  After all, as scientists, we want to know everything about everything.  That means trying stuff that would never occur to non-scientists.  The world’s coral reefs are in danger.  And they are a very important part of the aquatic ecosystem.  I do not nor will I ever advocate the decimation of the coral reefs for the production of sunscreen.  It is not necessary.  That product would have to do something pretty darn impressive to make it worth risking life in the oceans.

So why did they tell us?  It was an attempt to attract additional funding.  Research needs money to happen.  I used to work for a company on the East Coast.  We had several divisions: liposomes, hyaluronic acid, biotechnology and cosmetics.  I may have forgotten a few, but you get the idea.  I was in charge of the OTC/Cosmetic R&D branch.  The other department heads would give me grief about working in a “soft” science.  They were trying to make medical breakthroughs to save humanity and I was making herbal shampoo.

My herbal shampoo was responsible for their funding.  That’s right.  They would never had been able to afford one fermentation tank, one HPLC or even a beaker without the sales from my products.  “Soft” science indeed.

2) New anti-ageing benefits utilizing fluid from the umbilical cord!  Why?  Way back in the day, we used amniotic fluid in skin care.  Everyone, except perhaps the French, have stopped.  There is no need to exploit childbirth to obtain materials for reducing wrinkles.  Plus today, any product using a chemical of human origin requires an HIV warning.

That’ll sell cosmetics!

OK, so we are all doing research and trying to advance the human condition.  Is it all pretty?  No.  Is it all beer and skittles?  Not even close.  Do we still undertake personal risk?  Yes.  Every day.  There is not one product that comes out of my lab that I would not use myself.  And I test every single product we make in my lab.  All of them.

You do not want to hear about the products that failed.  Not every experiment is a winner.  Nor should you even know about them.  You want the winners.  Not the runner-ups.

So things happen in labs all around the world that can be a bit hinky.  We want to hear how you cured cancer and do not want to hear everything you had to go through to do it.  All these experiments lead to greater knowledge.

With great knowledge comes great responsibility.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Wendy
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 11:54:28

    OK…I am convinced! Going to go home and rub a beer and skittles smoothie concoction all over myself and see if I can advance the human condition. Cheers!

    Reply

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