[extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] Bottle washers and button sorters(Heinlein on scientists)

Henrik Ohrstrom henrik.ohrstrom at gmail.com
Tue Oct 18 05:53:51 UTC 2005

Well, unless you can afford to pay ludicrous parts of your research grant to
dishwashers, someone has to do the dishes.......
Heinlein was rather elitistic and as all good writers and thinkers
I think that well preformed buttonsorting and bottle cleaning necessary to
scientific process, many interesting insights have come when someone
realized that the "clean" ATP he was feeding his proteins really contained
high levels of GTP i.e the discovery of G-protein activation of cellular
If some professional dishwasher had done the cleanup then that discovery
could very well have been delayed.
Although really it was a "procleaner" a gradstudent who got the insight and
the professor got the nobelprize.
As usual.


> The science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein once wrote, <<Nine-tenths
> of  "scientists" are bottle washers and button sorters>> ("The Notebooks
> of Lazarus Long," _Time Enough for Love_, 1973). It was, I seem to
> recall, Heinlein's retort to a remark made in the 1960's by British
> science historian Derek DeSolla Price, that "Nine tenths of all the
> scientists who have ever lived are living now."

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