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From the LabLit short story series

Nik Papageorgiou 17 May 2010

www.lablit.com/article/597

We are the ones who feed your cells, who spend nights over microscopes, colliders, and computers to gather data for you

Dear Sir,

Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are an organisation composed entirely by committed scientists, who have gathered from all over the world in order to achieve one goal: To change the face of Science forever.

It is no secret that Big Science chews more than it can swallow and we keep it content in its corpulent folds by sacrificing our best and brightest to it. It has grown fat, and it will soon either explode or collapse under its own weight.

We’re here to speed up the process.

Of course, there are several models out there that propose to patch things up. But they will all fail, because Science is the province of humans and humans have a knack of leaving change to others. Thus, we reject all “gradual change” models and propose the only one that is scientifically guaranteed not to fail:

Pull the plug.

We propose the immediate termination of all research funding world-wide. No more PhD studentships, no more post-docs slaving, no more food for the beast. No more billions to research only to be consumed in anything but.

I’m sure that, after your initial visceral reaction, you will agree that this is the only sound way forward. We understand that it is harsh, and we understand that this will slow down scientific progress altogether. But it is our view that this is inevitable, and when it does naturally occur, Science will never have a day in the sun again.

It’s not too late. By immediately ceasing your funding procedures, you will cut the blood supply of a gangrened body. Let it go, sir.

What next, you may wonder. Like we said above, science is the province of humans. We are convinced that it will rise again, refreshed, eager, and pure. It will take time, but it will happen and make up for all time lost.

We are thinking about the Greater Good.

Think about it.

Do not contact the police. Do not try to find us.

We are the ones who feed your cells, who spend nights over microscopes, colliders, and computers to gather data for you. We are the middle names in your papers.

A similar letter has been sent to every funding body in the world, private and public, academic and industrial. This is happening, and we hope that you will join us.

And if not, we have your cat.