Counting Martians

My sister is an extremely smart woman. She’s a biochemist. I only vaguely understand what she does, as I studied basic biology and basic chemistry for non-majors in college. Over the years, I’ve learned what certain phrases mean, so I’m not completely in the dark when she talks about her experiments….or, as we jokingly call them, her e-spermints. This morning she wrote that she would be counting colonies on plates. Now, I know literally what this means, but the image that pops into my mind when she writes or says that phrase is straight out of a bad B-movie: little, igloo-like pods stretching as far as the eye can see on a barren landscape, perhaps on the moon or Mars or some other planet; standing outside the little pods are tiny, little people, looking up at the giant Biochemist, standing there in her lab coat and goggles [mind you, she doesn’t actually wear a lab coat or goggles, so I’m not sure why I imagine that], counting the number of pods and people. I emailed her a description of what my imagination had conjured, which of course cracked her up. So now she writes me that instead of counting colonies this afternoon, she’ll be counting Martians.


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