Coming up for air

Movements at the home of the gnome

PP entrance

At long last, the Micrognome is coming up for air. Gnomes, of course, are reclusive creatures. They spent much of their lives underground in dark places. But unlike dwarves, they are gregarious and orderly in their approach to life. Hence their enthusiasm for whole gnome sequencing.

In recent months, the Micrognome has been caught up in a frenetic burst of moving activity. Physicists would say this had a striking resemblance to Brownian motion. First there was a move to the new pathology building; a lab move and an office move. Then there was an academic move; another office move. Next came a house move, and finally an R&D lab move. At very least this has given him a daily dose of fresh air, while shuttling between buildings. Ande views from the upper reaches of the pathology building, south over the Swan River – inspiring. No matter that both the new offices have no external window. The views from the upper reaches of the pathology building, south over the Swan River are inspiring. Even the daylight in the research lab will come in handy as the gnomelets  highlight the darker recesses of clinical microbiology.

All this movement raises an important philosophical question: what and where is home?

home OE ham n. adj. adv. v. (adapted from

  1. a house, apartment or other shelter used by a person, family or household as their usual place of residence
  2. the place where your domestic affections are centred
  3. an institution for the sick or homeless
  4. the dwelling place or retreat of an animal

Kevin MacLeod might have an interesting opinion to air on that in his series of grand designs. As a student of lived space, the Micrognome has a more functional definition; home is where the thermocycler is. His first was an air thermocycler. Since then a series of contenders have been tried, tested and in a few cases transported to remote locations for field trials. The itinerant nature of the Micrognome’s duties look set to continue in his unremitting search for molecular biology gear that will work in the open air. Hence the definition.

Critics of this minimalist understanding of home may want to point out that the biotech companies have yet to incorporate a decent coffee machine in their real time thermocyclers. What’s the hold-up guys: delivering air to the frother?



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