World's Fair

Nerd-Off: I’m so down with that.

Well Janet has decreed a nerd-off, and I think I’m game to compete (albeit a little late). The truth is, is that I am a nerd at so many levels, whether this gauged by my application to the Super Friends, wearing t-shirts with Epithelial Cell Barbies on my chest, or owning a life size cardboard cut out of Han Solo (although it’s currently carefully folded, because it scares the begeezus out of us everytime we forget about it and walk by).

As well, I have it on good authority (via a vote actually) that I am one of the “coolest geeks” around. Which I’m not sure how to take, and also not sure whether that scores high in the nerd category (i.e. intepretation of the whole geek vs nerd thing), and whether being called the coolest in this sort of contest is a plus or a minus.

No matter, for the nerd-off, I present a small but telling example of why I think I can be a contender.

In fact, I only need to point you to the building where I work at UBC. Look closely at the front facade of the building. Do you see a double helix emblazoned on the glass? Yup – more or less, my idea to put DNA code up there.


And that’s not even the nerdy part. The nerdy part, under my suggestion and subsequent direction is the fact that if you look closely, you’ll note that the double helix has a single point mutation. That’s right people, the same point mutation that Michael (Smith) created in his landmark paper that eventually won him the Nobel Prize.

But wait! It gets better. The point mutation was specifically positioned in the window of the Director’s office. Man, it’s like I’m oozing nerdiness.

Point is, my nerdiness managed to encapture an entire research unit, as well as mark the physicality of a $40 million building.

Alright Ben… Are you playing? You’re sort of a historian type, and aren’t historians by default kinda anti-nerd from the get go?


  1. #1 Rosie Redfield
    September 12, 2006

    Now you mention it, the term “nerdy” precisely captured my feelings (both positive and negative) about the DNA on the Mike Smith building.

    I think the physical scale of this achievement should earn you at least triple points on the nerdiness score sheet.

  2. #2 David Ng
    September 12, 2006

    Hi Rosie. I know what you mean. My original idea was to actually have that point mutation represented in a more subtle way (like as in changes in the window panels to reflect what a sequencing gel might look like – that kind of thing). In some respects, that sounds even more nerdy.

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