October 27, 2010

Greg Graffin
Department of Life Sciences
Le Conte Ave & Westwood Blvd
Westwood, CA 90024

Dear Greg Graffin:
I enjoyed reading your interview.  (Darwin Was a Punk, David Biello SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 303 no. 5 November 2010 page 28)  I like your style.  This is just for fun.  I mean the science is serious enough, but you can’t run around being grim all the time … at least I can’t.  When you have done everything you can the best you can, then it’s time to play.

I was struck by the question, “Are there any good songs about science.”  I agree that alas the answer is no.  As chance would have it, I just finished giving a couple of hours of lecture at a science fiction convention here in St. Petersburg.  The first hour was on exobiology, an update from last year.  The second was about the steampunk telescope.  I introduced the first hour with some women doing a dance in which they were rabbits passing around chromosomes.  So far as I know it’s the first fertility dance actually to address questions of fertility. 

The dance is described at the beginning of the attached file.  In the event we had some props: rabbit ears, a sign for the sun, one for icicles, a white sheet for a glacier.  But pretty much it ran as advertised. 

The basis is hard science, the best I can put together.  As a Harvard Medical School Graduate and former Johns Hopkins faculty member, I’m not so bad at that.  My ideas are not popular.  I have been discreetly ejected from a genetics meeting for my ideas and my own county medical society will not even discuss me putting something in their non-refereed journal even though they beg for contributions from members.  They did an article on voodoo once, but evidently I am too much for them. 

Challenging authority has become a knee jerk for me. 

The difficulty with the dance was that we had no song.  I ran a metronome to keep time and simply narrated the events.  Then as the lecture began I qualified and contradicted the letter but not the spirit of the dance.  Ah for a good song. 

If you like, have at it.  If you want to make a video, maybe the ladies would not mind doing it again.  I have not asked.  They enjoyed doing the performance.  (And the audience loved it.  In fact it was a great audience.  If somebody had a question or a challenge during the lecture he would simply shout it out.  Fabulous.)

The principle being demonstrated … no.  I’ll not tell you.  Pour yourself a nice tall glass of lemonade, open the file and read it.  The dancing girls will explain.


M. Linton Herbert MD

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