Meanwhile, in my dungeon laboratory…

The Council for Science and Technology report, which criticised the UK government’s record in getting research going on the health and environmental effects of nanoparticles, has led to quite a lot of media coverage, of various degrees of inaccuracy. My favourite is this story in The Register: UK government slated by own boffins on nanotech policy. Taking its cue from the Science Minister’s line – which seemed to be, in effect, we gave the scientists lots of money but they chose to spend it doing exciting new science rather than getting the toxicology right, The Register’s Lewis Page sagely commented:

“This has been true ever since the first mad professor set up his dungeon laboratory, of course. Any scientist worth his salt would rather work out how to make dead flesh live again than write up the safety case for doing it. Even so, it’s nice to see boffins finally admitting this.”

This is irresponsible and gratuitously stereotyping journalism, of course, but I thought it was funny.

4 thoughts on “Meanwhile, in my dungeon laboratory…”

  1. We received our regular dose of The Register along with all the other feeds we subscribe to and the crew made apt note of of the article in question.

    Dare I suggest a judicious application of the Three Rules of Assessment is in order:

    1] Look for what is there that should not be
    2] Look for what is not there that should be
    3] Leave your ego/agenda on a peg at the door

    Assessment applied, and at risk of being labeled irresponsible and gratuitously stereotyping by the Register, I am reminded the the bird on the masthead looks suspiciously like a Turkey Vulture, to wit, consider the source.

    May the learned masses triumph.

  2. Ha, boffins! Richard, isn’t that a pejorative? Somehow I can’t image a US site calling researchers geeks or nerds.

  3. Martin, I don’t regularly look at The Register, but maybe I should – they certainly have an entertaining line in headlines and a healthily irreverent attitude.

    Boffin does have derogatory overtones, but it’s one of the many words in English english that is only ever used with a knowing wink and several layers of irony.

  4. Kind of an interesting example since Drexler devoted a section of Engines of Creation to making dead (well, frozen, and most people consider that dead) flesh live again.

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