Monday, August 06, 2007

Technicolor lab coat

From the makers of the artsy/science websites Lablit (specializing in science fiction) and Scicult (a scientific art gallery) comes this new "pimp my lab coat competition. Perhaps we should start making some custom bayblab labcoats, and maybe enter the competition? found on the Guardian:

Why are lab coats so unsexy? And why are they white? …
These are the questions now being posed by cell biologist Dr Jenny Rohn [MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL], and Wynn Abbott, a biochemistry graduate turned director of science-art agency SciCult.
The pair have turned to the fashion world for an answer, and are running a competition for a design, that makes a lab coat sexy.
“There is absolutely no reason why lab coats have to be shapeless, sexless and colourless,” says Rohn. “Why not black and fitted? White is a disastrous colour for lab work. Every little spill shows. Surely we can do better.” … Judges from the fashion industry, the worlds of science and the media will pick the winner this autumn. Rohn and Abbott are encouraging fashion students as well as established designers to enter."

This reminds me of Dr. Alexis Carrell, nobel prize laureate and the father of cell biology:
A specialist in the articial propagation of living tissues, Professor Carrell insisted that his lab technicians at the Institute wear black robes and hoods and bow whenever in the presence [of] his favorite icon, a glass-enclosed chicken heart, which Carrel had preserved in vitro for 33 years."

However Dr. Carell was also a pompous asshole who supported eugenic theories:
Dr. Alexis Carrell, who proposed in his 1935 best-seller, Man, the Unknown, that small euthanasia stations be equipped with suitable gases to "humanely and economically" dispose of the mentally ill and cimrinal class, described as "useless and harmful beings." "

For more on the whole Carell / cell biology history, check out this awesome Radiolab podcast...


Anonymous said...

Good call. By simple mention of Radio Lab, this is automatically in the top 1% of posts ever.

Kind of weird how they thought a complete environment of a single color would keep things sterile. I really wonder how that came about.

Bayman said...

Not to defend eugenics, but his attitude toward the mentally ill quoted was probably more humane than that of the mainstream medical establishment of his time - lock down, torture and forcible experimentation, often ending in murder.

Maybe euthanasia is not an acceptable idea in today's context, but perhaps he deserves to be judged in the context of his time.

Rob said...

Why sexy labcoats? what about functional labcoats? Where's the pipette holders and something to take notes on? And of course a big neon bayblab sign on the back :)

Anonymous Coward said...

yeah I agree with Rob, who cares if you have an italian designer lab coat. I want a lab coat that is coated in teflon so I never spill anything on myself, I want it fireproof, i want it to have colloidal silver nanoparticles in the fabric so that it it always germ free, I want a pipette belt, with a chain of tips over my shoulder rambo style, i want it to generate electricity from movement so that it recharges my portable electronics (no more dead pipette guns), i want integrated ipod controls in my sleeve, a hoodie, and a display system on my other sleeve where i can browse my protocols. Is that really too much to ask?

Bayman said...

If there's any place in the world to find those kind of tech gadgets, it's probably Japan...I'm expecting big things when you get back in the lab...

Kevin Zelnio said...

You totally need a zip-in fleece lining. I don't know about labs up in ottawa, but our penn state lab seems to always have the AC full blast year round. We use a space heater for the cold months in our office.

A built-in stadium buddy would be pretty sweet.

"...when the drinks go down its only a matter of time before someone needs to break the seal, and finds themselves spending more time looking for a restroom line to stand in hoping they don't pee in their pants, then enjoying time with family and friends."

Anonymous Coward said...

Ah yes a catheter for those long talks and the coffee abuse. Can you imagine talking to someone, and the face they would make if they started peeing. What we need is a stillsuit (Dune), you could transform urine into milli-Q water. Yeah it's permanently freezing in the labs in Ottawa too, it's actually the main incentive for me to wear the labcoat.

Bayman said...

I would like:

Built in IV line for caffeine and pain meds.

Shorten the coat to waist-length. Maybe add some comfy lab pants instead. Maybe it's just me, but I hate sitting down in a lab coat.

The Key Question said...

Scary thing is that I asked another grad student this exact question yesterday.

Why are labcoats white? Why can't they be black?

When he asked me why I asked this question, I said something about my brain not working properly.

I'm starting to influence the science'o'sphere with my mind! NO!!!

*tries NOT to think about a stay-puft marshmallow man*

ps. I want that chain of pipette tips too.

Micropipette said...

Nice blog i like it
Can you settle for the generic brands, or does accuracy and reliability head your motivation to purchase?