Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)
TITLE: One Week in Dr. Lipinsky's Laboratory
By Jan Ackerson
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I awoke this morning at 3:00 with the realization that I’ve been conducting my experiment entirely in error; I need to oscillate the neutronic polarizers. Immediately, I called my lab assistant, Miss Bentham, an efficient and intelligent young woman. Knowing that she lives considerably closer to the lab, I explained the proper procedures and asked her to begin the trial, then wait for me.
She was there when I arrived, and the first trial was underway. We anticipate preliminary results in twenty-four hours.
I arrived at the lab to find that the trial had produced an unforeseen effect: the air contained a fragrance—not unpleasant, slightly reminiscent of citrus. I mentioned this puzzle to Miss Bentham, who stammered an apology. Apparently the aroma was her perfume. I chastised her for introducing a contaminant into a near-sterile environment.
The trial, fortunately, has not suffered. All ten samples have achieved the anticipated degree of resonance. I will have to closely monitor Sample 8, however, which is showing slight destabilization.
Miss Bentham was at the lab early this morning. Evidently, she shared my concern over Sample 8, and when I arrived she was at the electron microscope, examining a fragment and scribbling data on a nearby notepad. She beckoned me over and urged me to examine the fragment while she continued her calculations. I had difficulty seeing what was causing her agitation, so she grasped my arm rather firmly and moved very close so that she could make the necessary minute adjustments to the microscope. We worked head-to-head for some minutes, taking turns at the microscope. It was a most distracting and inefficient way to work. I shall have to see about securing a grant for the purchase of a second electron microscope.
Sample 8 continues to destabilize, and now there are changes in Samples 2 and 5. Tomorrow, we will try reversing the oscillation. My earlier excitement for this phase of the experiment is somewhat dimmed. I find myself eating and sleeping poorly.
We reversed the oscillation today. The initial data seemed promising, and then the admirable Miss Bentham mentioned an obscure journal that she read as an undergraduate. In Minsk, it seems, a similar study was conducted in total darkness—it may be that photostimulation adversely affects neutronic polarization.
I was standing near the light switch, so I immediately flicked it to the “off” position. The lab is windowless and the darkness was nearly complete, there being only a few glowing or blinking lights on various pieces of equipment.
I felt my way over to the samples, and was surprised to find myself groping a rather soft part of Miss Bentham’s anatomy. She was quite professional—told me it didn’t matter at all, and patted my hand for reassurance.
We discussed neo-Einsteinian theories in the dark until nightfall, not wanting to expose the samples prematurely to light.
I haven’t gone home; further deterioration of all samples is evident. Miss Bentham and I have worked twenty-three hours straight. We are now exposing the samples to varying intervals of electronic pulsation. She is truly a remarkable assistant.
I don’t remember the last time I ate or showered, yet Miss Bentham remains uncannily fresh and inexhaustible. I can’t help noticing that she removed her bulky lab coat. Her flimsy yellow blouse is fetching, but impractical. When I mentioned that a few strands of hair had escaped from her bun (not wanting them to contaminate the samples), she blushed. I do not wish to embarrass her, but a stray hair could be disastrous.
At Miss Bentham’s insistence, I returned home for some much-needed rest. Upon entering my apartment, it occurred to me that it lacks not only adequate food, but also warmth and companionship. Perhaps I should consider taking a wife. Miss Bentham seems quite competent. I shall speak with her tomorrow.
Having slept and eaten a satisfactory meal (Chinese, delivered), I arrived at the lab eager to discuss last night’s sociological insight with Miss Bentham. When I first mentioned my need for feminine companionship, she seemed quite enthusiastic—but her enthusiasm strangely waned when I asked if she could give me the names of a few suitable women.
I may have overestimated Miss Bentham’s scientific capability; she suggested that I do something with Sample 8 that I believe to be anatomically impossible.
But it makes me speculate…what will happen if I increase the temperature of the samples?
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