In other news… Yesterday’s news of the government moving to restart the nuclear power plant at Chalk River in order to solve the shortage of medical isotopes inspired this cartoon.I thought I’d pass this by a cousin I have who works at MIT in the area of Chemistry. Here’s what he had to say:
That’s great! I’m going to post this cartoon in my lab at MIT. My co-worker is from Edmonton so she’ll at least get part of the joke.
Science gets such little exposure in popular culture that any attention whatsoever is nice to have.
McMaster has a small nuclear reactor – as do many university-affiliated hospitals – for making radio-isotopes for use in medicine. Some have extremely short half-lives – on the order of hours – so they must be made in-house and used immediately. The more long-lived isotopes, like those made at Chalk River – can be transported.
I work with isotopes on occasion – they have their uses- , but not the radioactive ones which require special training and equipment, not to mention disposal hazards. But there are some people in the labs downstairs who use them. That also might help explain why they are such weirdos. That, and the fact they work in the basement.
Ironically the molecules you’ve drawn our eminent PM as holding look like cyclobutane derivatives. They are quite unstable due to something we call ring strain – carbon doesn’t like to make such small rings – and seeing those little pieces fly off reminds me of the times I’ve tried to build them with model kits and watched the pieces blow up in my hands as I bent them past the breaking point. I’d imagine that radioactive cyclobutanes would be even more unstable, so Isotope Man really has his work cut out for him.
And here it is, on exhibit at the world reknowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Know of any other place where my cartoons are on display? Send me your photos and I’ll post ’em here.