Monday, November 06, 2006

Survivor: Laboratory

A while ago, a bunch of science promoters were suggesting that perhaps Hollywood should fund an LA Lab style TV drama, where hot, fit, lab scientists went out and solved the mysteries of the universe in ways that were way more exciting, dramatic, and tangible than real science is. The idea was to make science as misrepresented as law or medicine, when it came to television/ real world dissonance.

I think these suggestions are too high-brow. I think instead, they should redefine the common denominator with Survivor: Laboratory. Instead of an exotic jungle with silly adventure camp stunts thrown in, this would be rows of benches, test tubes, and occasionally combustible chemicals. Each team who first successfully synthesizes the correct compound gets immunity. Every show, the most triple thumbed, block-headed, OSHA hazard would get voted off. The protocol is repeated until there is only one survivor, who wins a 4 year scholarship to whatever school they can get into.

Like the current survivor, the show would be dominated not by the chemical/mechanical theory, but by the scheming, double crossing, and sabotaging that generates the most human interest. In this way, it would be very similar to actual professional scientific research. In fact, there could even be an episode where the teams have to crawl through a lab window and an obstacle course of dangerous glassware to steal Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray diffraction patterns.

Such a TV show could be relatively cheap to produce, entertaining, educational, and almost impossible to market. But those constraints didn’t stop Firefly or Operatunity, did they?

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