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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Exceptionally good documentary

For those of you with access to the TV channel BBC4 who want to know what life as a scientist is really like - I highly recommend Under laboratory Conditions

It is a 2 parter and the next programme is next wednesday at 2100h. This first programme started by examining the stereotype of the scientist among the general public (yes we are still regarded as mad with withered hands, crazy hair and a predeliction for blowing shit up). It then went on to examine what a scientist actually does.

It pulled no punches, showing bleary eyed PhD students and Postdocs sleeping on chairs during 3 day experiments, and people nodding off during conferences and seminars. The presenter is himself a neurobiologist, and as such was spoken to frankly and honestly by the many people he interviewed. I found myself nodding from start to finish and feeling a bit homesick, truth be told.
The interviewees were top notch, from a guy presenting his PhD to his peers before submitting his thesis, to junior researchers, group leaders, and superstars such as Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt. This possibly did more to dispell the image of the mad scientist than anything else as they had to bleep his expletives as he tried to find a parking space at his old school for an open day!

For me, there was a vicarious pleasure is seeing people who I know on screen (I just missed out on applying to appear myself - I got the email about the show just after I left work. Pity - interview me today and I may have a few interesting opinions on job hunting...), as well as names that I recognised (at least two of whom I have applied to or am about to apply to - I was actually reading a job advert by one of the participants when he cropped up on screen!).

To top it all, the show is humourously intercut with funny and appropriate scenes from old horror movies or earnest sounding public information programmes and documentaries.

I highly recommend!



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