Doctor McCoy Goes THINKing

August 11, 2015:

Doctor Henry McCoy goes on an Open House tour of THINK, and encounters Dr. Aiko Miyazaki and one of her latest projects. The two brilliant minds discuss matters.

THINK

THINK's lobby is more or less complete, though there's signs that the building is still under renovation. The whole thing has a sort of retro-futuristic flare, with a lot of chrome and subtle lighting, but also mid-century furnishings. Somehow it all works together without looking tacky or like something that belongs in Tomorrowland.

A young woman is seated behind the curved reception desk. She works the holographic display while switching between several different conversations, some of which are not in English. She looks more like the majordomo of an alien space station than a receptionist. Security is nearly invisible, but ever-present. There's no keypads. Everything is biometrically sealed. The building uses highly sophisticated facial recognition to determine who is authorised to be in the building.

The labs themselves are split over several floors. For the most part, the labs are separated by discipline, though there are several shared spaces for scientists who prefer to work in a cross-pollinating way. The rooftop sports a helicopter pad, hangars and a small lab space. There is a street-accessible lab that is part multidisciplinary lab, part garage. There's a heavily reinforced sub-basement that houses a firing range, munitions testing area and more…volatile scientific experiments. The one thing ever lab has is common is that it's equipped with some of the best gear money can by - and several pieces that money can't buy at all.


Hank McCoy

Not many would consider Dr. Hank McCoy to be terribly prepossessing or imposing. He's a little taller than average, standing a few inches above six-feet, but his frame would generously be called 'slender'. Bright blue eyes, brimming with intelligence, are most often hidden behind glasses. Medium-brown hair is cut in a fairly traditional style; nothing overly trendy, just utilitarian. His clothing style is pretty firmly in the 'Classic' vein, if not 'Old-Fashioned'. Khakis, button-down shirts, ties (both bow and straight), and cardigans tend to be his preferred uniform. Unless he's needing to use them, he's usually hiding his feet in large shoes.


Honey Lemon

Exceptionally tall and quite thin, this young woman is honestly stork-like in build, standing just shy of six feet tall before adding the height of seemingly omni-present platform heels in her choices of footwear. Her hair is long and pristinely straight, a radiant golden blonde, falling to her waist. It is held back at the moment by a golden yellow Alice band. Large round clear glasses emphasize her wide grey-green eyes, with their Japanese epicanthic folds, resting on her small, thin nose. Her complexion is smooth and tanned, an olive tone. Her frame is thin but healthy, with a moderate athletic tone, her curves modest but not entirely absent. Her movements are flowing and graceful, but often full of a compelling, almost spasticly hyper energy. Her voice is a smooth mezzo-soprano tone with a mild but noticeable accent. She looks to be in her latest teens or earliest twenties.

Paired well with and complementing her brilliantly golden hair, this young woman's attire is similarly striking and colorful. A long golden yellow lab coat covers her arms and shoulders, draping down to above her knees, but is almost perpetually left open in front. This reveals the matching golden yellow crew-neck tee-dress which reaches mid-thigh, hugging her form loosely. Stark white yoga leggings emerge from beneath the dress hem and end above the ankles, and strappy light tan towering platform heels cover her feet and add inches to her already dramatic height. A big light tan purse rests on her right shoulder and against her right hip, bedecked with various colored balls, baubles and bangles, matching various bands and bangles peeking out at her wrists from the sleeves of her jacket.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

THINK is having another big open house, their last of the summer months, trying their best to entice student-age kids from 4 to 28 or so to come and explore the wonders, mystery and 'magic' of applied sciences. Given the effort that the publicity department personnel put into this, it should come as no surprise that there's plenty of people in attendance. Some are tour groups sponsored by various schools or school districts. But many are simply interested folks from around the country - and around the state - who are here in New York City, and interested in seeing what THINK has to offer.

For her part, Honey Lemon is one of only three scientists in the Applied Chemistry system open to presentations today, and the only one in biochemistry. The tall blonde young woman - Dr. Aiko Miyazaki - is a popular draw, and she knows it. It has something to do with her /other/ reputation, as much as her scientific one. Lots of kids love to see the superheroes, and here's one who won't just fly away on them. Why NOT see what she's up to?

Aiko's presentation includes a lot of audio-visual work, thanks to the tech in use, with large screens displaying molecular models, while others display video clips, and others display magnified images of the display case in the center of the room. Meanwhile, Aiko is speaking to those who have filtered into her display area for the moment. The sign outside says 'Biochemical Recycling'

"The whole purpose of this project is to assist in cleaning up the rampant pollution of our environment. In particular, this effort is intended to create a means of safely recycling the massive volumes of plastics that have been interred in various dump sites, or left to pollute our waterways, into safe, natural byproducts that can help the environment, rather than hurt it. As such, these microbes have been modified to secrete chemicals which break down the plastics. Batch A was targeted to create natural fertilizer analogs for land dumps. Batch B was targeted to create safe silt products for similar use in waterways. The microbes have also been modified so that they require a particular frequency of static charge to remain active and alive, beyond a four-hour window. This allows us to assure they will not self-propogate outside the intended zones and endanger the environment, or people."


Dr. Hank McCoy is almost within the age limit…give or take a year and change. His curiosity was a bit piqued by the idea that a lab was offering an open house. It's a good idea, but also a little strange, in his opinion. However, it was a good opportunity to scout it out before potentially pitching it as a future field-trip possibility for some of the students.

Just one in the crowd in one of the tour groups, the multi-degreed scientist looks about before following some of the others towards the display area. He may not be as star-struck as the others for he's looking at the diagrams and images before politely raising his hand before asking, "What are you doing with the byproducts of this technique?"


Hank is so polite and well-mannered that it's a pleasure to finally call on him, rather than other, more exciteable folks who just blurt out their questions. So, Aiko points to him when she gets a chance, listens, and then answers his question. "The entire point of the process is that what is left behind is actually safe. At worst, ecologically neutral, but preferably ecologically positive. In all of the tests thus far, the only other byproducts have been the microbes themselves. Once the tuned static charge is removed, they expire after the time limit, and they biodegrade relatively normally. They fuel themselves and their growth with many of the impurities that can't be transformed into the target materials. However, I can bring up the exact spectrographic analysis of the expired microbes from each site on monitor eight, right in front of you, if you'd like to study them?" Given a nod, she types on one of the tablets nearby, and the screen in question changes to show four separate spectrographic analsyis shots, one for each test site. Included is also a notation of sample size, and estimated total available material.

The monitor is indeed watched as the analysis is pulled up and probably more than a few of the students and teachers have turned to watch the Q&A session. After a couple of moments of inspection, Dr. McCoy waits his turn again before asking, "And the off-gasses?" It's something that's the bane of plastics recycling. Man-made materials tend to do that sort of thing.


"Thus far, off-gasses have been contained and recycled by the microbes. However, our next phase of testing will involve supposed open-air exposures, so we'll be measuring to see how much escapes and what we're looking at." Aiko answers, gesturing as the monitor changes again, this time to present diagrams for proposed testing arrangements with uncovered samples within sealed environments, with gas collections and real-time spectrographics laid out. "The intent is to distribute this into the area from the air, so we'll spray downwards, as you can see, looking to blanket the target zone. But we expect gaps, and will be looking to see how much leakage we get." Science doesn't assume it has all of the answers: it assumes it can devise tests to find them.

"What of long-term effects of inhalation and ingestion, to both humans and the environment?" Dr. McCoy asks, "I applaud your efforts and it seems like you're making some real headway here." It just seems to be a very long-term experiment before anything can be approved for use. "It's good to see places like this delving into Environmental Sciences as well." He'll quiet down then and let others in the group ask any questions that they might have based on the brief discussion or the like. He's back looking at the monitors.


"Once we have clear evidence of what is being released and in what levels, we can begin confirming the effects of inhalation, short- and long-term." Dr. Miayazaki offers, smiling. "Wonderful questions, though. Due to a lack of the chemicals the microbes are seeking, the microbes haven't shown an attraction to researchers inside the test zones. But we have evern intention of continuing the experimentation and broadening the possible avenues explored. This won't go into broad production, or even monied presentation, until we've completed those experiments and have that data."


Hank McCoy can't help but give a chuckle as he's complimented on his questions. "Thank you…I do try," is offered before he turns back to the monitors. It's definitely an interesting concept and one that could be incredibly useful. He does keep ears open to any other questions that might be asked before he begins to sort of trail on with the rest of the tour group.


One of the other folks decides to ask what methodologies they'll be using for testing the effects on living beings, obviously pushing to hear about animal testing. Doctor Miyazaki - so very young - smiles. "Actually, we're currently setting up runs for three-D printed biocultures. We intend to start all of our biological testing with these, as means to determine what level of risk might be faced by our animal friends in the next stage of testing. If we find a sufficient threat, we'll be redesigning and re-testing before we ever get to that stage." The rail-thin blonde smiles. "I don't want to hurt a mouse or a rabbit or a pig, anymore than I want to hurt a human being. We'll be doing our best to avoid that risk."

When things do wrap up, Honey Lemon does her best to get around the group - she may fail, but she tries - in order to approach Hank, rather curious about who he might be. She wants a chance to introduce herself, and hopefully he'll return the favor. Or at least she can try for the chance.


It's another good question that's asked, and not by him! Hank listens to the answers and gives a brief nod as he considers the practicality. It's certainly better than potentially harming the test-animals. He does end up trailing a bit after the group as they move along so that he's fairly easy to catch as he's taking in pretty much everything that he can.

It might take him a moment, though, to realize that the young scientist might actually be seeking -him- out!


Dr. Miayazaki reaches out, intending to lightly touch Hank on the inside of the elbow, to beckon his attention as she says, "Excuse me, Sir. I just wanted a chance to say hello." She offers her hand. "I am Doctor Aiko Miayazaki. I was really pleased by your questions, and wanted to thank you for coming today." She's clearly hoping the more formal introduction will induce the man to introduce himself in return.


Hank McCoy most likely senses the young woman's approach before the touch, but he does pause and turn around. The offered hand is taken briefly, "A pleasure to meet you, Dr. Miayazaki, and thank you for taking time out of your work to speak to the tour. It was very informative. Very interesting things you're doing with your research. It's very inspiring for young and old," he seems to include himself among the latter, "Alike." There's a brief pause before he remembers and offers his own name, "Dr. Henry McCoy.


"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Doctor. We can only hope that our pursuit of research like this, and many others, inspires still others to join us. How better to see things change for the better?" the clearly up-beat, bright young scientist offers. By appearances, most would assume Aiko hadn't even graduated college. Some might even wonder if she'd graduated high school. Yet according to the nameplate on that lab door, she has multiple PhDs, and her lecture would certainly seem to imply they weren't honorary. "Might I ask your own preferred area of study, Doctor McCoy?" Medicine, not teleportation science, right?


Hank McCoy isn't one to comment on appearances — after all, he graduated college at the tender age of fifteen and he knows that others have taken similar paths. "Well, at least to see that people are actually working on implementing change. Part of the issue is that most students aren't taught that Science is a process. It's not about immediate results, like on television and in the movies." When asked about his preferred area of study, he clears his throat and looks about briefly before offering, "Biochemistry, Genetics, Biophysics, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Theoretical Physics, Quantum mechanics, Linguistics…I really have an interest in all areas of study, Dr. Miayazaki. Environmental Science is a new and fascinating subject."


Just a tiny bit blown away, Aiko smiles. "Wow. That's quite impressive, Doctor. My friend, Doctor Tamago is my resource for Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. We share the computer sciences between us. We're multilingual, but neither of us has really made a study of the science behind the development of language." She offers this by way of showing why she's so impressed … and further relating to the amazingly-minded man. "Where do you put that amazing mind of yours to work, Doctor?"

"Thank you, Doctor…It's more a product of a busy mind and a dislike of of being bored." There's a friendly sort of smile then as he really doesn't want to brag. Different people have different talents. "I have my fingers in many different projects at the moment," and he's not really going to give much more than that. His smile does broaden a little, "Why, are you recruiting?"


"Well, we're always interested in seeing more brilliant minds join our efforts, here or elsewhere. Besides, given your careful attention to methodologies, you seem like a good person to have peer review any of our work prior to moving to later phase experimentation or publication." Aiko offers.


Hank McCoy gives another chuckle, "I think you may want to check with your Supervisors and Human Resources before making those claims, but thank you. I'll keep that in mind if the opportunity seems to present itself. I'm not entirely sure I'd be the best choice for peer review or editing." He could do it, but he's not really the type to sit at a desk and review documentation for errors or omissions. "I would be concerned, and I'm sure you've thought of this, of the plastic's molecular byproducts merging with the organic material it's meant to fertilize. Plants, especially, are prone to genetic mutation, which was why Gregor Mendel's experiments were so ground-breaking."


"I meant what I said, Doctor McCoy. We're always interested in seeing more brilliant minds." Aiko offers. She doesn't need to check with Human Resources. But she's not going to lecture the man, either. "Those are precisely the concerns we have, as well, and why we're working through this process of testing. We did the best we could to design these microbes to consume those byproducts, further breaking them down into harmless, natural, environmentally and medically neutral substances. But only proper experimentation will be able to tell us if we've succeeded. Or how close we are to our goal and the dangers that lie ahead at that remove from our ideal. I hope you'll keep up with our research, and keep posing those important questions."

"Oh, I plan on following your research as best as I can," although it might not be the easiest thing to do pre-publication. "I'm sure the last thing you all want is an 'Erin Brockovich' situation here…and I wouldn't want that for you either. This is definitely important work that's being done and it's important that these younger minds see the necessity of taking care of the earth that we have. We've already wrought enough damage to it that fixing it may be nigh impossible so trying all we can is imperative. Although I don't need to tell -you- that," Hank offers.


"No, doctor, you don't. But I appreciate hearing your passion on the matter." Aiko offers, smiling. "Have a good day, Sir. Please, enjoy the tour." That said, Aiko offers Hank one of her cards, perhaps hoping that he will reach out and contact her, since he seems reluctant to divulge a means for her to do the same in reverse.

Hank McCoy isn't able to offer such means at the moment, but he will take the card and pocket it. "And you as well. It was a pleasure meeting you and thank you for your card…and for all the work you're doing here. It's a fascinating place." With that, he moves to catch up with the tour group that has moved on to a different part of the tour path now.

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