Marc Kirschner on engineers

"There's a cult of engineers trying to weigh the smallest possible thing. They're very competitive - but you won't read about it in the sports section."

- Marc Kirschner

One of the most likable aspects of many scientists is their tendency to obsess about highly arcane problems. In a recent scientific seminar in London, Kirschner, who is Professor and Chair of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, revealed the existence of a high-octane group of engineers who are busy building fabulous machines - nanomechanical resonators - in the noble attempt to out-do each other in weighing the world's lightest entity. They are, apparently, down to the level of zeptograms (10 to the power of -21 grams), which means they can weigh single proteins. Who knows how small they'll end up going?

LabLit would actually love to read about competitive weighing in the sports sections of our national newspapers. Perhaps even the book-keepers might take an interest. Long odds on weighing a single amino acid by Easter, anyone?