I just spent the most fantastic week at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, as part of a fellowship for journalists. You can see Woods Hole at the southwestern tip of the cape, just across the water from Martha’s Vinyard (which does not have a vinyard and has nothing to do with Martha Stewart — two of my previously held misconceptions).
Woods Hole is a science mecca. In the summer, researchers from all over the world — including quite a few Nobel laureates — descend on the place like flocks of pigeons. They conduct experiments, they mingle, and they drink. Oh boy do they drink.
I was there for 10 days with six other journalists learning some of the techniques that scientists use in the laboratory — techniques with impossibly complex names, like gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction. It was the most fun I’ve had in a really long time. Turns out I really enjoy fertilizing sea urchin eggs, pipetting antibodies, and staring at tiny creatures under the microscope. Though I must say that snipping the heads off squid with a sharp pair of scissors makes me a little squeamish. Continue reading