Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What KIND of turtle?

The Doktah’s thesis was on red blood cells and nuclei. This has always amused me, because red blood cells are the only eukaryotic cells without nuclei. (Yes, yes, The Doktah, chicken red blood cells have nuclei. We know.) At any rate, she once found a paper on the bending modulus of the red blood cell membrane in various warm- and cold-blooded animals. They had a table listing the modulus for snakes, mice, rats, and three kinds of turtles.

That always seemed excessive to us. Three kinds of turtles? Were they really that different? We imagined the following scenario:

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Quick! I need to know the bending modulus of the red blood cell of a turtle!

GRAD STUDENT: (flipping frantically through the paper) What kind? WHAT KIND OF TURTLE?


Doktah said...

I'm not sure if I already posted this, but...

The long laugh that we had over the plethora o' turtle red cell experiments - and oh, how we laughed - came back to have the last laugh. Having read that paper for the entertainment value saved my butt in my thesis defense.

Of all of my beautiful work on the human red blood cell and nucleus the only real question I get is "what do you think the difference is in the mechanics between a camel and mouse red blood cell". Needless to day that in a thesis defense you get questions you’re not expecting. Suddenly 3 turtles don't seem so funny anymore. Particularly because describing the details of that study, including the study of numerous types of turtles, gives you stall time to think to yourself “mouse and camel… I have NO IDEA…I hope I sound like I do”.

Debra McCoy said...

Wow, your Doktah’s thesis was certainly an interesting project. I wonder what would be the outcome for research like that. We all know that MA thesis and phd dissertation writing can really be hard, and having a difficult topic can make things a bit harder. But, it shouldn’t be a reason to quit out of the journey.