Last week, the American Chemical Society‘s Reactions podcast released a video called ‘Zombie Apocalypse Survival Chemistry‘, which featured yours truly talking about two of my favorite topics – chemistry and zombies. Because everybody loves chemistry and zombies, or because The Walking Dead was wrapping up its season, this video got a bit of media attention last week. Even the folks at Saturday Night Live (SNL) mentioned this zombie chemistry, about 6:48 minutes into of the most recent Weekend Update. Here’s the SNL joke…
A chemistry grad student in Nebraska is creating a new perfume he calls Eau de Death, which mimics the smell of decaying flesh so people can avoid being eaten by zombies. Meanwhile, his professor is creating a new grade he calls ‘F minus’.
I would like to speak directly to SNL for a moment… SNL, I like this joke; it was well-delivered and got some laughs. However…
- You made me into a male graduate student. I am a female postdoctoral research fellow and a member of the teaching faculty at my institution. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a magical unicorn, so it’s odd you did not notice that. “Magical unicorn” you say? I am a black female chemistry PhD. But as I said on twitter, SNL doesn’t have the best track record with black women, so… OH SNAP!
- You made my boss – a tenured professor and principle investigator – a man. She is not a man. Yes, Virginia, there are lady scientists! Oh, and she loved the video, so no “F minus” for me! Like a lot of scientists, my boss is passionate about outreach. Talking about the science of sci-fi is one way to get people interested in science.
- I did not invent a perfume, which will also be a shock to the Daily Mail. In the ACS Reactions video, I just talked about a “death cologne” – a bit of a thought experiment, if you will. Like a lot of other organisms, we could use chemical camouflage (‘Eau de Death’) to survive a predator. Sure, the predator in question is a zombie, but whatevs. Science is a way to look at the world, a way to solve problems – even fake, silly problems like a zombie apocalypse.
In the future, SNL, if I’m ever sorta the punchline of a joke, could you do a teeny bit of fact checking? Unless the joke involves hookers and blow. For those jokes, please use my male grad student cover.
Featured image is a screen capture of SNL’s Weekend Update from 3/29/14