6.14.2010,1:23 PM
No, that's not a typo for 'Motoblogging'.

Being a science nerd, I smiled at the irony of an advertisement in the June issue of The Scientist journal. Flipping the page to read an article on the battle between pathogens and their hosts (or describing the immune system using the analogy of mafia wars), there was a full-page photo of a motorcyclist in helmet and leathers. 

"What???", you ask. I asked, too. 

Speed. Fast. Accuracy. Goals. Common words day in and day out, especially in today's highly competitive world. Even in science. Or, as Millipore puts it, "Research. Development. Production." It's all the same. 

Someone in marketing took the metaphor of a motorcyclist and extended it to scientific pursuit.  So far, so good. And nowhere else but in science does 'zero to publication' mean 'the edge'. 

Reflected in the helmet visor are reagents and an apparatus used for Western blotting. The procedure involves transferring proteins from a thin layer of gelatinous material, in which proteins have been separated by their molecular size and ionic charges, to an even thinner slice of polymerized membrane. Proteins on this membrane are then probed with antibodies raised against certain epitopes (think of exact addresses on a map folded into origami) of each protein. The complex of protein and antibody form an invisible thin band down the length of the membrane. The membrane is then incubated in a substrate which allows imaging (by x-ray film, light of certain wavelengths, etc) the corresponding band of protein that the antibodies are attached to.

This entire process can take an entire day, sometimes more. It's an expensive and tedious but routine procedure that nearly all molecular biologists and most bench biologists are familiar with. It is also a standard tool to detect and measure proteins in tissues and cells, providing documentation (supporting evidence) in published journal articles in the life sciences. As the caption under the image claims, "Get results faster. Make decisions sooner." Fast, fast is important. 

I doubt that most scientists will realize that the metaphor can be used conversely - nearly all motorcycles and much of their gear - such as tires, brakes, etc - are tested and proven on the track and elsewhere before released on the market with claims of performance. While not published in the same sense, everyone knows that Valentino Rossi has tested many race bikes and tires on the track, and tests his own skills as a racer similarly.  And the end results are reported and shown in the media and culminate in marketing. 

Fast. Fast. It's all about competition, baby.


posted by Macrobe
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