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So whats in the Petri dish Dr. Periwinkle?
Whats it like to know that your future and a decision that could possibly change your future in a huge way is going to be decided not as much by scientists, but by politicians?
Thats exactly what Dr. Oliver Periwinkle learns only after a few months as Chair of the Albert Einstein Department of Science and Technology at Belvedere Crossing University. Excited by the prospect of joining the faculty of one of the nations pre-eminent research institutions in the fall of 2000; he brings with him the promise of a significant federal grant to continue a highly controversial Stem cell initiative. Obviously life is good. But as quickly as fortunes can blossom, they can turn, and turn they do as a bizarre series of events start to unfold.
So begins the often amusing and delightful romp through the Halls of Letters that chronicle a litany of asinine behavior, a gluttony of academic has-beens, political crackpots, government double-talk and of coursecorruption and greed. So whats in the Petri dish is set in a university environment fractured by cynicism and an insanity that has run-a-muck. Periwinkle encounters a host of good guys and bad guys, G-men and Wise-guys in a brush with Nobel Prize fortune and fame; corporate espionage and congressional hearings where I have no recollection of that Senator, more often than not is bellowed by just about anyone with something to hide. It is an exaggeration of the absurda microcosm that peeks behind its own closed doors, secret files, and clandestine meetings only to discover time and time again, the enemy is us.
So whats in the Petri dish is the coming of age of a nave latter day scholar who is indoctrinated to a culture of perpetual chaos as a university transforms in the midst of perhaps one of the greatest scientific discoveries of our time. Here we get a glimpse of idealism as it comes face to face with reality while society struggles with a phenomenon that will ultimately shape and define its values. Alas, So whats in the Petri dish is a venture into higher educations inner sanctum; yet never once promising the reader to emerge any smarter, but perhaps wiser for making the journey. Many deem it a clear case of morality vs. mortality, rightor is it? Ever since that sheep, I know Ive been a little curious. What about you?
Dr. Michael Fontaine is a university Professor, former journalist and freelance photographer.