Academia Nuts


jezebel_icon.gif mohinder_icon.gif

Scene Title Academia Nuts
Synopsis Two slightly nutty geneticists meet and really hit it off.
Date February 10, 2009

Columbia University, the biology floor of the library

A member of the Ivy League, Columbia University was one of the first colleges established in the United States. Its buildings and greenswards occupy over 32 acres in Morningside Heights; the university offers a number of quality degrees, from law to nursing, and is also the home of the Pulitzer Prize. Its student body is very diverse, and active in myriad pursuits, from student-run WKCR, what may be the oldest FM radio station in the world, to the Columbia University Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs. It is home to thirteen fraternities, four sororities, and several multicultural organizations.

The library of Columbia University isn't a busy place on springlike late afternoons, and the biology floor of the library is even less busy. Jezebel is here, sitting in one of the few comfortable chairs out in the open, curled up with the latest issue of the Journal of the American Biochemical Society. Now and again, she glances at the clock on the wall.

Mohinder is here as well, browsing the peroidcals as well. Looking around, as if thinking he's being watched, he picks up the latest issue of Genetics Monthly, and finds a place to browse it. Oddly enough, it's in a chair by Jezebel.

Jezebel comes up for air and notices the journal. "Excuse me," she says politely, "may I read that when you're done with it?"

Mohinder nods, and smiles politely. He actually hands you the magazine, "Please, by all means." he says in a rich accent, "Feel free to read it at your leisure."

Jezebel beams at Mohinder as she takes the magazine. "Oh, thank you! Would you like to swap journals? There really aren't any genetics papers in this one, but it's still interesting."

Mohinder hmms, "Well, no papers means it should be at least a light read. No one trying to pontificate in this one, is there? I hate it when they try to preach.." as he takes the journal and hands you the magazine.

Jezebel replies, "If they did that in the letters to the editor, it went over my head." She opens Genetics Monthly and begins to read like a heatstroke patient handed a glass of Gatorade.

Mohinder grins, "Well, at least the first five pages are safe." he says, settling back and flipping through to begin reading.

Jezebel reads happily, grinning from ear to ear. Unfortunately, page seven isn't safe at all, at least for Mohinder. Jezebel frowns in thought as she looks up from the magazine, then back into it, then at both page seven and Mohinder. "Um, excuse me… are you Doctor Mohinder Suresh?"

Mohinder looks up, "Yes I am," he says plainly, "Is there something I can do for you?" he leans his head to one side.

Jezebel beams at Mohinder even more brightly, if possible. "I wish I'd brought my copy of Activating Evolution for you to autograph, Doctor Suresh. The editors, on the other hand, miss you and want you to send them a paper, or at least a letter."

Mohinder blushes a little, "That..that was my father's work, but I would've been glad to." then is obviously curious, "What do you mean about the editors?"

Jezebel shows him the glossy photo on page seven, which is accompanied by a short blurb wondering what the Bad Boy of Genetics is up to now.

Mohinder reads this. Pauses. Re-reads some more. "B..Bad Boy of Genetics? How in the world did I rate that?"

Jezebel replies, "Really interesting hypotheses that were proven true in a spectacular fashion at your early age, of course. Doctor Suresh, are you teaching here now, or here for a guest lecture or two?"

Mohinder stammers a bit, "Umm..well..I'm doing lectures here, and teaching over at NYU a little, and doing some independent research. But..I figured no one really cared what I was up to." he shrugs a bit. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage though. You would be..?" he extends his hand in a friendly manner.

Jezebel shakes the offered hand. "Jezebel Kemp-William, Doctor Suresh. At this rate, I will never get into any journal. NYU? I may have to try to transfer. That is, if commuting ever becomes feasible again."

Mohinder smiles gently, shaking the hand. "Well, Miss Kemp-William, getting published is exactly 50 percent knowledge, 40 percent bull, and 10 percent luck. I'm hoping to be doing some teaching here. If NYU and Columbia can agree to let me do both."

Jezebel just keeps smiling and smiling. "Good, my parents would rather see me in Columbia than NYU. At the moment, I'm not in either."

Mohinder grins, "I won't tell anyone if you won't?"

Jezebel grins back. "This is open to the public, for the moment, but thank you. I want to ask you all sorts of things, but you came here to catch up, not talk to adoring groupies."

Mohinder blushes, "I hardly have adoring groupies." he closes his journal. "But it's kind of you to speak of me in rock star terms." he smiles, "Go ahead and fire away. Trust me, I'm actually ahead of the curve these days."

Jezebel says, "But you do have adoring groupies. You've got me, anyway. I went into molecular genetics because of your father's book."

Mohinder blinks, "Really. I knew my father's work was influential. I didn't realize it moved entire people in the field, though. At what point in your studies are you?"

All the light in Jezebel's face disappears behind a dark cloud that threatens rain. "I had to leave school most of the way through my third year. I had killer pneumonia. I was doing too much, really. I don't know when I'll be going back, if ever."

Mohinder tilts his head to one side, "Is that due to a lack of funds?"
Mohinder quickly follows up, "Not that I'm trying to pry."

Jezebel admits, "Partly. My parents have plenty of money and are screaming at me to get out of here, go home and go back to Georgetown University. Partly… because I have obligations here. I didn't realize how much I missed school until just now."

Mohinder nods, "Well, there's nothing wrong with Georgetown…" he says, and there's a but there, that he's not saying. "I hate hearing something like this.." he sits back, something in his eyes.

Jezebel gently asks, "Why? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. My problems aren't your problems."

Mohinder shakes his head, "That's not it..I just hate hearing about an educational career cut short due to no problem on the part of one seeking knowledge." he sighs, then thinks. "Do you have any work you can show me?"

Jezebel shakes her head. "Let's call it private research, of the unpublishable sort," she says with a twinkle in those jade green eyes. "Hmm… I've done a few minor things over the winter. I was going to do some major experimentation come spring, but for that I'd have to commute and look things up here. That's not looking at all likely, at least this year."

Mohinder ponders this, "If you'd like someone to help you double check your documentation before you experiment..I'd be happy to help."

Jezebel smiles sadly. "I wish, but the truth is that the less you know, the safer I'll be. I swear it's nothing evil, just… unwise to talk about."

Mohinder nods, smiling in a way that's a bit too knowing. "I understand exactly what you mean. I just recently finished something very similar."

Jezebel perks up. "Really? You have my sympathy. I wish we could both talk freely."

Mohinder nods, "Me too. For the first time in my career, I'd love the opportunity to brag."

Jezebel giggles, even as a tear rolls down her left cheek. "Whatever you did, I'll bet the journals would eat it up. Do you think you'd get the Prize for it?"

Mohinder just smiles wanly. "The magnitude of what I did? It was the equivalent of curing AIDS and Cancer at the same time. I can't say more than that."

Jezebel is floored. "And you can't publish? For something that good, there has to be a way."

Mohinder shakes his head. "I can't." he shrugs. "Both what I cured, and the circumstances surrounding it must be kept tightly secreted."

Jezebel irritably says, "National security, my foot. Tell the DoD to go screw itself. They should only deport you." At that she pauses for thought, then very quietly asks, "Do you think they think this is worth killing for?"

Mohinder laughs. It's a sudden thing. " probably very well is."

Jezebel turns pale, just a little. "Then I'm sorry I scolded you. I'd ask how on Earth you got mixed up in something that crazy, but that would be like asking me how I wound up on Staten Island."

Mohinder nods, "Exactly." he says. He takes a deep breath and runs a hand through his hair. "Funny though, that everybody seems to have their own chain of secrets that weighs them down."

Jezebel says, "Someone once wrote that the heart cherishes secrets not worth the telling, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. New York is more interesting than I imagined."

Mohinder hmms, "That's a fascinating saying. Who said that?" he asks, curious.

Jezebel answers, "Steven Donaldson stuck that in the mouth of one of his nicer characters. It's often true, just not in New York."

Mohinder nods, "Well, there's many more places than new york. Just not so many that's so screwed up."

Jezebel chuckles. "If you want screwed up, I'd invite you to visit the Rookery, except that I don't know how the scientific community could bear your loss." She thinks a moment. "I'm tempted to give you my phone number and e-mail. It's really hard for me to get on the Net now, but I can try using my iPhone to do so."

Mohinder blushes, "Well, it's not like they noticed my last loss." he follows that up with, "Well, I'd be happy to exchange both with you."

Jezebel rummages through her fanny pack and finds a scrap of paper and a pen. She scribbles. "There, that's my cell phone and e-mail. It's an honor, it really is. I might even take you up on that offer to look things up, if you could stand it."

Mohinder shakes his head, "You'd be surprisd how much of my research job is just writing procedures for others to follow to do stuff that I could do myself, if I wasn't writing procedures for others to follow."

Jezebel laughs. "You sound like you've been stuck with a department chair already."

Mohinder chuckles, "I hope not. I really didn't sign up for that."

Jezebel laughs evilly this time. "Just wait. Some department will get you. Worse, when it does, I will turn up on your doorstep and insist on working with you."

Mohinder smiles, and it's equally mischievious, "Watch what you wish for - it could turn you into a research fellow."

Jezebel fires back, "So long as I get tenure, I won't care."

Mohinder chuckles. "That can be arranged."
Mohinder says, “The man who signs a contract has the ability to make specifications in that contract. It's amazing what one can pork barrel in when they want a certain geneticist bad enough.”

Jezebel comments, "Ah, to be a famous genius. Are you serious?"

Mohinder nods, "I don't kid about things like that. I'd love to help you, and if I can get you in as a research fellow..specifically as a member of my own personal research team? It'd be my honor to help."

Jezebel blushes as red as a tomato. "Really? You don't even know what my grades were."

Mohinder says, “Good enough to know that if you didn't have the grades to experiment, you wouldn't.”

Jezebel says, "Actually, my grades were good, but the work was done completely on my own and is irreproducible. There's a thought: publish in the Journal of Irreproducible Results."

Mohinder laughs. Really laughs. "Would that be from the Ministry of Silly Walks?"

Jezebel asks, "You've never read the Journal of Irreproducible Results? The library has a subscription. It's the first thing I read when I came in this morning. Some of reads like Monty Python and some of it is from kids."

Mohinder nods, "I can believe it, but no I never thought to look at seems like it'd be full of fringe sciences and tinfoil conspiracy stuff."

Jezebel says, "No, no, that would be something else entirely. Probably glossy magazines you'd have to hunt down at a New Age bookstore or a health food store."

Mohinder ponders this, "I'll have to look that up. So what's in this journal, anyway?" he leans back in his chair, fully interested. You have his attention.

Jezebel asks, "The Journal of Irreproducible Results ? Well, the papers submitted can't be reproducible, of course. They really can't be serious, either, which would be a problem for me. I think my favorite submission of all time was the kid who tried to grow dinosaurs from sponge capsules by planting them in dirt. You should really read it for yourself. I did, because I needed cheering up."

Mohinder smile broadly, "I'll definitely have to read this journal the next time I'm feeling like my research is going in the wrong direction. I have the feeling that I won't feel so bad anymore."

Jezebel smiles back. "If all else fails, you can look at the T-shirts they sell. They're awesome."
Jezebel adds, "Although I prefer the Journal of Academic T-shirts."

Mohinder rubs his chin. "I've spent so time in the serious side of science that I think I've been missing out this whole time."

Jezebel says, "You probably have. You have to have something to laugh at when the universe is laughing at you."

Mohinder smirks, "Laughing at me? I thought I was starring in the cosmic gag reel."

Jezebel asks, "How can you say that when you just did something worth the Nobel Prize? Not being able to publish isn't the universe laughing at you. It's mere human beings being incredible jerks."

Mohinder nods, "Very true..but when you scale a mountain that large, and you can't shout from the top of's depressing."

Jezebel politely says, "I'm sorry I reminded you. Should I leave you to read in peace?"

Mohinder shakes his head, "Of course not. I'll get over it eventually and move on to another project. but thanks for keeping me centered, Miss Kemp-William." he says a gentle smile returning to his face.

Jezebel replies, blushing, "You're very welcome, Doctor Suresh. Thank you for putting up with me."

Mohinder waves a hand, "It's putting up with nothing. What I'm doing is having a friendly chat with an up and coming colleague. And please, feel free to call me Mohinder."

Jezebel giggles a bit. "I hope so, anyway. In that case, Mohinder, you must call me Jezebel, or Jez."

Mohinder smiles, "Jezebel," he says, rolling the name around in his mouth, "Jez it is, I think. Jezebel for important things." he nods, as if making up his mind.

Jezebel smiles at Mohinder. "I'm afraid I'm so out of touch that I don't even know what to ask you, Mohinder."

Mohinder shrugs, "Ask whatever you want to. You're a new friend, Jez. My friends can ask whatever they want."

Jezebel asks, "Can you talk about your current work, Mohinder?"

Mohinder shrugs, "Sure. I don't have anything quite yet." he says with a chuckle. "However, the line of research I'm considering..I probably shouldn't talk about. All my projects are usually highly classified."

Jezebel rolls her eyes. "I'm going to try not to say something rude about these people I supposedly employ and delegate things to. I am getting very sick indeed of the Department of Homeland Security, though. In that case, is there really a marker protein all the Evolved produce? I've been thinking about these home testing kits and trying to sort out how they could possibly work."

Mohinder smiles. "I could do better than that Jez." he leans in and whispers, "Who do you think developed those?" he asks with a wink.

Jezebel just stares at Mohinder for a moment. "I'm just trying to understand the kits, not find out if I should have my own comic book. It would be a rotten comic, anyway. It wouldn't sell."

Mohinder nods, "I can help you with that. Like I said, I developed them. Yes, there's a genetic marker. The kits I developed..they're not too much different from a home pregnancy test.”

Jezebel blinks. "Given the wide range of Evolved abilities, I didn't think a single marker for all Evolved was possible."

Mohinder counters, "Well, imagine a building. The building can take many different shapes, but the materials it's built with are common. Evolved have certain aspects in common with each other, even if their abilities are different."

Jezebel nods, apparently following so far. "I didn't think it was closer than everyone having the same housekeeping genes and having DNA in general. Should the Evolved marker be thought of as an extra housekeeping gene?"

Mohinder ponders this and shrugs, "Yeah well..the marker itself is really kind of useless. It's just an extra marker."

Jezebel comments, "Life is as inefficient as it can get away with. Odd that it gets expressed, if it's useless. One too many start codons floating about, I suppose."

Mohinder nods, "Already the building blocks for the next stage of evolution are being placed. What's useless today is tomorrow's cornerstone, that's all."

Jezebel says, "I wonder what selective pressures are present that we cannot see? I would have predicted a greater tolerance for air pollution, not what we might as well call superpowers."

Mohinder nods, "Those..are coming. They are slower evolutionary processes. Something triggered these far more advanced abilties. I'm still struggling to know what."

Jezebel thinks for a moment. "Either the Evolved are incredibly lucky, or there's a desperate need for those abilities. What need, though? I can't see one."

Mohinder ponders this, "Well, the blast a few years ago was both created and contained by those with the abilities. The recent events here..those demanded those with abilities step up." He shrugs.

Jezebel gives Mohinder a stern look. "No fair behaving like Fred Hoyle. Although it might explain a few things if one hypothesizes that God thinks like Stan Lee."

Mohinder shrugs, "Well, stranger things have happened. What one can explain is called science..what cannot be explained is divinity at work."

Jezebel shakes her head. "There is what is understood, and that which isn't understood yet. Although you remind me of whoever it was that said the most inexplicable thing about the universe is that it is explicable."

Mohinder nods, "Exactly. The more that is understand..that transitions from divinity to science, even more takes its place."

Jezebel says, "At least we'll never run out of questions to ask."

Mohinder smiles, "That's the beauty of being a scientist."

February 10th: Interruptus
February 10th: I See Russia, I See France
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