Light the Pumpkin

Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble…*cue witch’s cackle* It’s Halloween time again! Or, as I like to call it, scientist awareness day. For, really, when else is it socially acceptable, arguably expected, to embrace your science induced craziness and dress up like a mad scientist or experiment-gone-bad monster *cue Frankenstein groan*.

If there is one thing Halloween has taught society, it is to fully embrace the culture that is science. Don’t believe me? Look at some of the best movies centering around ghosts, ghoulies, and all things Halloween. Personal favorites, Drs. Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters perfectly embody the true sciencey prototypes – you have the semi-neurotic Venkman, the hardworking Ray who just wants to do research, and the crazy Egon who you spend half the movie wondering is an alien. Not only does Ghostbusters try to scientifically explain a supernatural phenomenon, not only does it try to scientifically explain a way to trap said phenomenon, and not only does it have a giant Stay-puffed Marshmallow Man, but it delivers the best science line ever – “Back off man, I’m a scientist.”

Now, you might think that science and Halloween really aren’t that closely related. After all, scientists use logic and reasoning to understand the natural world.  Halloween is based on superstitions, the walking dead, paranoia, and magic. I state right here, right now, you are wrong! You want to see real superstition, real unexplainable events? Just sit in a lab and watch. From specific tube color and size, to closing a machine, to the type of ice you use, to the order in which you turn on a set of machines, to the length of the centrifuge run, to the amount of moisture in the air, time of day, and planetary alignments during an electrophysiology recording, you will most definitely see the most superstitious people on the planet.

I leave you with the least sciencey of all Halloween clips: the Great Pumpkin. After all, all science-folk believe in the Great Pumpkin, one way or another. Even if they won’t admit to it.

6 responses to “Light the Pumpkin

  1. Being a scientist here at OHSU I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. 125 years of OHSU has brought us to this point in our journeys of life. I once worked with a woman who sang to her difficult to successfully grow cells and she got better success when she sang..she believed.

  2. Never missed this Halloween special growing up and now 125 years later I am watching this with my grandkids.

  3. I am so superstitious that 125 cell lines later I know which way to face each flask of cells so they are happy!

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