CoffeeTime Science: Science on the Brain
Things get really weird when science enters your dreams!
“More coffee?” Katja and Narges are sipping their lattes, “Yes please!” I start making more coffee whilst swatting away one of the many annoying fruit flies buzzing around the kitchen. “Stupid Drosophila,” I mutter under my breath. Narges starts laughing, “What did you just say? You are SUCH a science nerd!”
Apparently, most people don’t refer to fruit flies in their kitchen as Drosophila. Neither do they refer to a particular type of hair clip as double-helix (if you use it, you know which one I mean), or so I’ve been told. “What about writing H2O on your shopping list instead of water?” Katja and Narges shake their heads at me. Hmpf. “Well, that’s nothing,” I admit, “I seem to have science on the brain, as I frequently have science-related dreams, and they are often very, very weird!”
I can’t remember most of them in detail anymore, but one in recent one stuck with me. In this dream I was using the flow cytometer (an LSRII, to be precise) in the African savannah outside our house – as you do – and while I was running samples, I was aware of three tigers – I know, no tigers in Africa – lurking in the high grass ready to pounce on me.“I don’t even want to start interpreting that,” Katja laughs.
“Wait, I haven’t got to the best part yet,” I continue, “I woke up from the dream with a start, and you know what my first thought was? Did I switch the machine off? And I was actually worried for a couple of seconds until I remembered we did not have a house in the savannah with a flow cytometer in the back yard!”
This is not the first flow-cytometer related dream I’ve had, and not the first time I woke up worried about having switched a machine off or put samples in the freezer either. Katja has sympathy with me. “Well, if it makes you feel better, I have also had science-related dreams in the past, and like you, they generally are about things going wrong or not doing things properly. Once I dreamt that the radioactive irradiator in the basement of our institute had exploded and it was my fault”
Narges joins in, “I’m sure every scientist has these dreams. Mine used to be either mice related (being chased by mice!) or not meeting deadlines/having to give a talk with no slides, etc.” I chuckle at the idea of Narges being chased by a bunch of angry lab mice. “I guess it makes sense, we know that scientists have their own weird vernacular, so why not our own brand of crazy dreams, too?”
Does everyone have vocation-related anxiety/weird dreams, we wonder, or is it something specifically about being a scientist that means part of your brain is always thinking about your job? Do you have weird science dreams, and what are they about? Please let us know whether we’re the only weird ones!