One of the most enduring human traits is a constant need to tinker. From an early age, this might manifest with building blocks or crayons, but as we get older the tools become a little more advanced and some of those children become scientists with laboratory equipment that leaves the toys of childhood far behind…
When it comes to finding yourself standing in the laboratory, many scientists and technicians are faced with a similar need to create, innovate and, essentially, tinker with the mechanics of anything available.
This curiosity has meant that the lab has become home to some things you might never have expected. While many members of the general public assume laboratories to be producing new, clearer brands of headphones, or picture them with exciting perfumes being held in a vial crimp, there are actually a great many things created in many different laboratories which you might never expect. Here are five of the strangest:
It might seem strange to you now, but for many years futurologists have predicted the rise of lab grown meats. The quest to create a burger in a petri dish might be closer to conclusion than you had previously thought. As recently as 2013, scientists were demonstrating a hamburger made from mincemeat grown in a lab in Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Costing nearly a third of a million dollars, the patty was reported to have looked and smelled incredibly close to that alluring odour, but the taste might not be quite right just yet.
With the continuing troubles regarding the source of many mined diamonds, finding an ethically sound means of procuring the precious stones could lie in a laboratory. While lab-created diamonds have existed for many years, traditional diamond producers and salesmen have claimed that they lack the imperfections which distinguish them from the real thing. However, it could be the next step which is the most unexpected. A Swiss laboratory has claimed that they will soon be able to take a cremated person’s ashes and convert them into a diamond. Rather than a traditional burial, it could well be that we receive the diamond treatment when it comes to future remembrance ceremonies.
While it is long held that laboratories are one of the very best weapons in our fight against disease, there is often no means of telling what is actually in all of the glass vials similar to the ones we provide to lab workers. One of the most worrying possibilities must surely be a virus. While we may not quite be at the stage where evil scientists are knocking together a super plague, there have been recent concerns over the experiments performed on the H5N1 virus and how this research could lead to future trouble. With so many cures being developed in the lab, it could well be a disease which is the next leap forward.
When saying that drugs have been developed in a laboratory, many people will simply nod and assume that you are referring to medicine. However, some of the most potent forms of narcotics have been created from scratch by those working in laboratories. Usually, people think of all drugs as being similar to marijuana or cocaine; naturally occurring substances which are manufactured into the mind altering. However, LSD is perhaps the most famous example of an entirely scientific creation. On April 16 1943, Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman administered the first dose of a drug he had been working on for some time. He recorded his findings and found the chemical to induce quite the effect. Whilst originally conceived for medicinal purposes, every batch of LSD since created is based in some way on his initial laboratory findings. Responsible for much of the psychedelic happenings of the Swinging Sixties, it may well surprise some to find that the substance was created in a laboratory.
5. Big Bang
Posited as the very beginnings of the universe itself, a huge and seismic event which shaped everything which surrounds us, it might well seem that trying to create a similar circumstance in a laboratory might be a bad idea. But perhaps not. Whilst we might be more comfortable with beautifully organised vial seals and incredibly accurate balances, other labs seem to prefer the option of taking two very, very small objects and hitting them together in a very, very fast manner. This is a gross over simplification of the Large Hadron Collider, a tool in a lab whose circumference is measured in miles and lurks under the ground along the French/Swiss border. Within, scientists are trying to recreate the Big Bang on a smaller scale, observing the incredibly detailed occurrences surrounding such an event. Though there was widespread public mumblings regarding a possible apocalypse, scientists have now begun to make incredibly discoveries based on the results from the large, underground, circular, atom-smashing laboratory. Who knew that a simple lab might be able to one day recreate the beginning of the universe?