The right to produce this as a dramatic work in any form is reserved by the author. (c) 2000 Richard Katz
More or less in traditional screenplay format. There are some anomalies of format introduced by going to HTML. RK
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An Internet Learning Exercise about Biology, and Chemistry.
© 2000 Richard Katz 510 236 1865
INT. LOUIS PASTEUR'S HOUSE -- NIGHT. ABOUT 1865 AD
LOUIS PASTEUR is packing up his microscope.
(in French, with subtitles)
Where you headed?PASTEUR
(in French, with subtitles)
To the brewery.PASTEUR'S WIFE
Why the microscope?PASTEUR
I am going to observe yeast.PASTEUR'S WIFE
EXT. STREETS OF PARIS. NIGHT
Pasteur ambles a few blocks through Paris to the brewery.
EXT. BREWERY MAIN ENTRANCE. NIGHT
Pasteur approaches the brewery. Uniformed GUARD on duty.
(displaying a piece of paper)
I am Louis Pasteur. The brewmaster gave me this.
Pasteur hands the guard his piece of paper. Guard inspects it carefully.
INT. JUST INSIDE THE ENTRANCE TO BREWERY. PARIS. NIGHT.
Guard escorts Pasteur into his tiny office. Assistant Guard LACROIX shares a desk. Prominent sign-in logbook.
(leading Pasteur inside small office, just inside the door)
Come with me please Professor. Just right this way.
Guard not too surreptitiously fishes out an official looking form.
Pasteur signs the log.
(very official, handing Pasteur the second unnecessary form)
And here? Thank you. Now, my assistant will escort you to the exact person you wish to see.(motioning to Assistant Guard LACROIX that he should immediately stop filling out forms and hop right to his escort duties)
(announcing Pasteur to LACROIX)
Professor Louis Pasteur; my assistant, Louis Lacroix.(hands Lacroix Pasteur's piece of paper)
This is a very confusing place on a first visit, and no one knows the layout better than well-trained Security Personnel.
If I can be of any further assistance, just say the word. I will not leave this post, until I see you again, safely on your way. Lacroix will stay with you to make sure -- absolutely sure -- that you have anything you require. Whatever it is.
Pasteur just nods to everything.
Thank you. That's not necessary. Really. I promise I will not steal anything.GUARD
Quite the contrary, Professor. Lacroix is only to attend to your wishes. You may dismiss him whenever you wish.PASTEUR
Lacroix has his truncheon and his hat.
Of course. Please, follow me.
Pasteur and Lacroix walk away. Guard squirrels away the extra unnecessary form, stopping a couple times to admire the autograph.
The great Pasteur himself. Top of the heap. Absolutely.CUT TO:
INT. BREWERY. NIGHT.
Very NOISY. Pasteur and Lacroix walk quickly past the maze of equipment, vats, tanks, carts, pipes, barrels, etc of the brewery. They arrive at a small office. Lacroix looks around, gestures to Pasteur "Nobody home, nothing."
Pasteur gestures, "It's okay. No problem."
Pasteur walks over to a table, hoists his microscope case, unpacks, sets up shop.
When he's ready, Lacroix finds him a Moncki wrench to get a sample of brew. Pasteur transfers samples with a porcelain spoon/spatula. They spend the next few hours observing yeast from the brewery vat. Every time Pasteur sees something interesting, he shows it to Lacroix, who thus learns exactly how to operate a microscope.
WE SEE all the MICROSCOPE SHOTS.
Pasteur and Lacroix both make nice drawings of what they see. Pasteur signs his work. Lacroix initials his.
INT. BREWERY. VERY EARLY MORNING.
Pasteur and Lacroix back at the small office near the entrance. Pasteur signs out. GUARD wakes up.
Thanks. Thanks very much. I'll be back. Lacroix is an excellent observer -- a true watchman.
Guard just bows. Lacroix is somewhat glassy-eyed.
EXT. STREETS OF PARIS. VERY EARLY MORNING.
Pasteur ambles home.
INT. PASTEUR'S HOME. DAWN.
Pasteur getting into bed.
What did you see at the brewery?PASTEUR
What was the yeast doing?PASTEUR
Having babies. I think the yeast was having babies.PASTEUR'S WIFE
Yeast don't have babies. We have babies.
They make love.
LINK to the entire field of the study of the biological basis of human behavior (psychology).
Graphic detailed lovemaking, at the organismic level, the orgasmic level, and the organ level, including a trip from the epididymus through the seminal vesicles et seq to the vagina and onward (swarming) to where sperm cells go. FOOTAGE at the cellular level; MICROSCOPE SHOTS; whatever it takes, including
LINK to physiology of the entire vascular and endocrine initiation and response (getting "pumped up" = the primordial function of the heart, analogous in all organisms.) Particular attention is paid to the way the human body's vagus nerve measures the blood's oxygen concentration, at the aortic arch; the same nerve that triggers orgasms in men and women. Oxygen supply is the unifying theme of the student-researchers' investigations.
INT. BREWERY. NIGHT.
Small office by front gate. Pasteur approaches the Guard.
Professor! You're back.PASTEUR
Good. Good. Lacroix, of course, will accompany you. Is this good?PASTEUR
Excellent. I never would find my way without Lacroix.CUT TO:
INT. BREWERY. VATS SECTION. NIGHT.
Pasteur and Lacroix take samples and look at them in the microscope. Pasteur makes lots of drawings. Lacroix also makes drawings and files them and puts the date and time on them.
CLOSEUP of Pasteur's and Lacroix's observations. Prominent STATIONARY PHASE.
INT. BREWERY SMALL OFFICE. DAWN.
Pasteur exits with a wave and a nod.
Lacroix, what is he doing?LACROIX
He watches the yeast. In his microscope. He draws them.(displaying a drawing from his vest pocket, signed by Pasteur)
What is this?LACROIX
That is a yeast.GUARD
And what is this?LACROIX
Professor Pasteur says that that yeast is having a baby.DISSOLVE TO:
INT. LECTURE HALL. DAY.
Justus von Liebig reads from his most vitriolic paper, condemning Pasteur in no uncertain terms -- auf deutsch, mit subtitles.
INT. PASTEUR'S HOUSE. DAY.
Louis Pasteur on his deathbed.
I am not ready to go yet. I have not convinced everyone that yeast are alive. Not just chemicals.PASTEUR'S WIFE
I will miss you, Louis.SFX DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. ESTAB SHOT PASTEUR INSTITUTE, PARIS, 2000. DAY.
INT. PASTEUR INSTITUTE, PARIS. DAY.
Steadicam the way into the Building. When you get to Louis' office, it's quite obvious that he's a spirit. He blows right through you. Steadicam around the building, into the labs, out to the hallways, et seq.
(addressing the camera)
(in the native language of the student)
Welcome to Institut Pasteur.
It's another new millennium. Quicktime, the new medium, allows me to mentor you.
If you wish to learn all about biology, I am very happy to be your mentor. If you wish to learn all about chemistry, that's very good, you will learn that too.
Back out in the hallway. Huge lifesize still image hanging on the wall of Pasteur in the brewery, with microscope.
PASTEUR (CONT) VO
Here is where it began. I go to the brewery with my microscope.
STILL IMAGE of microscope. HOWTO of operating Louis's old microscope.
(motioning "Let's go")
Now we go to one of the labs.
They do the same thing now, a hundred years later.
Pasteur goes into YEAST LAB 1 and takes a sample of yeast from a shake flask in an incubator. Nobody in the lab notices him, of course. Nobody happens to be watching when the incubator is opened.
We take so little, they'll never know.
And of course, we use sterile technique. When a culture gets contaminated, well, that's what people think anyway -- ghosts did it.
Pasteur hauls his microscope slide back to his wallhanging, climbs in.
(adjusting the 'scope)
So, here they are.
Video image of stationary phase yeast.
(nonplussed; interested; animated)
What is this? No babies.
Pasteur climbs back out of his picture, goes back to YEAST LAB 1. Most everybody is going off to a seminar, including HEAD OF YEAST LAB 1. Just one guy is left, doing some spectrophotometric assays.
Pasteur consults the YEAST LAB 1's last research paper, Methods section, on how to grow the cells. It refers to a previous paper, which Pasteur finds; which refers to somebody else's paper, which details how to culture yeast.
HOW TO MOVIE of all the steps to culture yeast.
"Shake the cells at thirty degrees Celsius."
"... a vibratory shaker."(reading another page)
"... a rotatory shaker."PASTEUR (CONT)
(addressing the audience)
I wonder if these workers ever measured to see if their yeast get enough oxygen.
Pasteur looks around the lab, rummages a bit, doesn't find what he's looking for.
I don't see anything here to measure how much oxygen is in these flasks. Not very easily, anyway. Of course, here at my Institute, anything can be measured that has ever been measured. This is Science. But, not very easily sometimes.
But not a problem. Come!
Pasteur goes down the hall to BACTERIA LAB 1 that has some Achromobacter fischeri growing.
(taking a sample of A fischeri bacteria in a test tube)
Luminescent bacteria from the ocean.
They need oxygen to glow.(scanning a shelf of reagents; picking up some concentrated NaCl solution)
And salt, of course.(scanning the label on the A fischeri culture)
How handy! They're even auxotrophic for three different amino acids.
Pasteur goes back to the YEAST LAB 1. He turns off the lights (no switch necessary), shakes the bacteria tube, and the bacteria glow nicely. They gradually stop glowing.
See? No oxygen, no glow.
Pasteur walks back to his big photo and grabs a notebook from the desk, lifting it right out of the picture.
I have to calculate how many milliliters of this concentrated sea salt solution to put into this 125 milliliter of yeast culture so it's like the sea -- which of course you know is .... M.(scribbling)
Okay. Ten milliliters.(walking back to YEAST LAB 1, then measuring with a graduated cylinder)
Nice salty yeast culture.(swirling the A fischeri)
Nice colorful glowing bacteria.
Ah, suck up the oxygen.
Oops, no more oxygen.(swirling)
Oxygen, again. A test for oxygen.(preparing to add A fischeri to the yeast)
And now -- an experiment!(mixing)
Voila.(mixing, still dark, slightly annoyed, slightly perplexed)
Voi --- la!(pause)
Totally dark.(shakes like crazy by hand)
Ah, there, a few bubbles, some oxygen, okay.(back on shaker)
And now, we put them back on the "rotatory shaker" , we'll be oxygenated in no time.
Totally dark. NOISY SHAKER SOUND. Still dark.
Lights go back on. Seminar people are coming back already.
This is so interesting, don't you think?
Walking back to his big picture.
(waving his hands; using the "Ether" net)
Here, we send him an email.CUT TO:
INT. YEAST LAB 1. DAY.
HEAD OF YEAST LAB 1 sits down at his computer to check his mail. An email appears, just a bit out of sync (after the chimes, Pasteur's email slips in.) HEAD OF YEAST LAB 1 discards lots of junk email, answers a quick question-type email, notices Pasteur's email from "Dr Sosumi, Tokyo, Japan."
Sosumi's email reads: Dear Dr Bouchard, In your very interesting article in EJB 19:20 pp 167 ff I could not determine oxygen concentration in culture medium. Please to tell me if know. From Sosumi Kyoju, Tokyo JP."
HEAD OF YEAST LAB 1
(while typing, responding to email)
"I could not determine oxygen concentration."
Dear Idiot: Aeration is by shaking and culture medium is in equilibrium with gaseous phase. Therefore oxygen concentration is 20%.
Aaaaah, this is absurd. Fool!
(addressing the audience)
He thinks I didn't get his reply.
Sounds like a systematic error to me.
Let me see what he does with the yeast. Maybe it doesn't matter that there is no oxygen.
Pasteur has a copy of the research paper (which is about ADAPTIVE MUTATIONS) and follows along as the HEAD OF YEAST LAB 1's ASSISTANT more or less replicates the paper, but runs some variation of one of the experiments. This Experiment is as arcane as it can get.
Every time THIS SCRIPT gets to a technique, you have to give the theoretical and practical background for it, in Quicktime, as well as showing just what's being done. At the very least, you have to read the journal article.
I will go assay the oxygen elsewhere.
Pasteur goes around to various labs. He observes what everybody is doing, reads their notebooks, checks out a published paper or two. He stops in the office of each laboratory leader and listens in to a telephone conversation. He goes in and listens to a seminar. He listens in on a graduate student thesis defense.
In every lab that grows bugs in "bottles" (flasks, reactors, whatever) he checks for oxygen with his luminescent bacteria system.
Not paying too much attention to oxygen, it seems.
So they never know when they should stop growing.
All of these papers say they grew the yeast until "stationary phase".
Pasteur sits down at one of the computers in the Institute Director's office.
He does an intense search on the Internet.
Student-researchers are doing this in parallel with the great Pasteur. Pasteur is a forward anachronism, while the student-researchers are somewhat of a backward anachronism; Pasteur is a ghost from the past researching in the present, while the students are, generally, in the present studying the past. Together, Pasteur and the students will Google their way to perhaps an insight or two, very much in the present.
SHOW THE SCREEN SHOTS for "stationary phase" about 9000 hits.
Pasteur looks at several papers about stationary phase in chromatography.
Searches for "stationary phase" - chromatography. Gets about 5000 hits.
Looks at a few math papers about stationary phase.
Searches for "stationary phase"- chromatography - Fourier
And so it goes, trying all manner of combinations for searching, looking for the whole story.
[The rest is unscripted, an inquiry into whether the microorganisms grown in the lab(s) for all their various purposes are gasping for air.]
©2000 RICHARD KATZ
Point Richmond, CA 94801
Just Chemicals Real Short Synopsis
Louis Pasteur, a true believer in situated cognition, teaches you biology. It's modern biology, so it's also a course in chemistry.
Just Chemicals Synopsis
Louis Pasteur discovers that yeast are alive, but he dies a bitter man because people don't believe him. To the German organic chemists, yeast are just chemicals.
Louis is still around in spirit, and his spirits are raised, a hundred years later at his Pasteur Institute in Paris. He's going to show you around the lab! It turned out he was right about the yeast, and the rest is history, and science. Louis and you discover that there's much left to explore, including a systematic error in biology that he wants you to work on with him. You'll have to know a lot of chemistry, of course; but if you don't know it going in, he'll teach you all the chemistry you need to know to catch up and catch on.
It's a matter of situated cognition here: he'll show you how to do it, but you've got to do the work, and nobody knows what the answer is, because this is learning how to do research by doing some.
Commentary by the Author 2002
Since I wrote Just Chemicals two years ago, I have had the opportunity to teach high school students as a substitute teacher, in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. This year, 2002, my own kid, Jason Katz-Brown, elected to take Chemistry at Berkeley High; Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry, in fact. I scanned Jason's textbook, entitled appropriately enough, Chemistry. I hadn't read a chemistry textbook in years; I read the whole thing in a day or two, and even learned something (Just what is a pseudo first order reaction, anyway? I always wondered what they meant by that, since it was always said, in the literature, about every reaction I ever had to deal with, that "we can treat this as a pseudo first order reaction"; and I never got around to looking up just what a pseudo first order reaction is.) It occurred to me that this book, and perhaps the course, constituted an experience akin to taking golf lessons -- driving range, putting green, pitching area -- and never actually going out to play a round.
That's a bit cryptic, and highly analogized. What I'm getting at is that the students have a lot of work they have to do, and they don't have a real good reason for doing it; or rather, they have a good reason, just not an immediate and motivating reason. And they don't know it; they don't know what chemistry and biochemistry actually is. Like someone who never actually plays any rounds of golf; he or she wouldn't really know what golf is, and would probably not be all that excited about it, nor all that enthusiastic at practice. More to the point, they could never be said to have learned how to play golf, exactly. And the kids in chemistry class: They've learned about, or at least acquired some knowledge of, chemicals and chemical reactions and they've done some exercises in the laboratory; but have they learned any chemistry? Have they done an experiment? Have they done anything where somebody didn't know the answer before they started?
With Just Chemicals, the kids do research. They research the literature. But it's not just a literature search; it's research. They're working on a genuine unknown, solving a genuine problem. The most interesting thing is that a lot of the scientists whose work they'll be reading, on the web or by requesting reprints or going to the library, would tell them face to face that what they are working on is not important. That might be true. I don't know. That's why they call it research. They're going to be questioning the work of some pretty big guns. But that's okay; they're just kids. They'll enjoy the troublemaking aspect of their work.
I can't guarantee that teaching via Just Chemicals will be better. I'm pretty sure it will be, but maybe it will be just like the WISE project at Berkeley, just another ton of work that runs aground on the rocks of classroom management. My experiences in the classroom tell me otherwise: You tell them a story, you ask them some off the wall questions, they pay attention. You get them started on the mystery of it, on the problemsolving aspect, then they're going to get some of that fascination that brought us all that knowledge (and speculation, and even misinformation) that chemistry is all about.
But what about that ten pound textbook? Chemistry, by Zumwalt. It's a reference book. Every time the kids are reading one of those journal articles, and they run into something where they have no idea what the authors are talking about, the teacher can show them in Zumwalt where the basic concepts are explicated. They're not usually that complicated, and we expect these students to be able to understand them anyway. A lot of Just Chemicals is about the behavior of gases around liquids; a thorough reading of the chapter about Henry's Law is definitely in order, fairly quickly. If they don't really seem to know what the difference is between the oxygen dissolved in the culture medium and the oxygen in the dihydrogen oxide of the culture medium, we're pretty much at step one; they didn't learn much in their middle school science courses, but we'll make that up to them. (Hint: The dissolved oxygen is more like a molecule, and the oxygen of the water is more like an atom.)
NOTE: The author is probably the only person who did six years of biochemistry research and then went on to be the owner and operator of a trucking company. The author actually drove an eighteen wheeler truckload of barrels of chemical waste into Diablo Canyon. It was during a protest; the police were busy keeping an eye on the protestors.
Comment September 2003
Most everybody has never read a scientific journal article, not even once. It's more foreign to them than Shakespeare. They are thus dependent on textbook writers, magazine writers, and newspaper writers to tell them what it meant. I realized this not long ago, and it made me realize also just how radical Just Chemicals actually is, pedagogically and didactically.
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