Cool Places To Do Science: Life In The Lab 1

OK, so we know that you get up at 5 A.M., have your double espresso and get ready for a full day of exciting work. You energize yourself with your morning workout routine and get ready for your experiments.

After your UFC morning workout, you feel like you'll
eat that FACS machine alive.
Now, a factor that may get you more or less stimulated is, of course, your work environment. We have already talked about the human factor. Today, we wanted to talk about the actual place where you will be doing your experiments.
There are places that are more inviting than others when it comes to work environment. Or to be fair, the environment doesn't need to be more inviting, it could just be inspirational, pleasant, or a cool place to work in.

That is certainly the case of the Salk Institute ( The Salk Institute, as we know it today, is the result of the collaboration and vision of scientist Jonas Salk and architect Louis Kahn.

Salk Institute Panorama. Photo by Gregg M. Erickson, Wikimedia Commons
Jonas Salk, an American medical and virology researcher, led the development of the Polio vaccine in the mid 1950's. Paralytic poliomyelitis, its full medical name, was among the worst epidemic infectious diseases in the first half of the 20th century. The disease is caused by an Enterovirus, and those who survive often suffer muscle/bone structure complications or relapse in the form of post-polio syndrome.

It is particularly distressing because more than half of the patients are children under the age of 10. It is really heartbreaking to see little children as the preferred target of such a devastating disease.
  (Left) Jonas Salk. Photo from Wikimedia Commons. (Right) Nurse and Child. Picture downloaded from KUED 7 Utah public broadcasting, University of Utah.  
Luckily, in this case, there is almost a completely happy ending. The vaccine developed in the middle of last century has helped reduce the incidence of Polio to a minimum. It remains endemic in only 3 countries in the world (Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan), where great efforts are made to eradicate it.
And part of that happy ending is the Salk Institute in San Diego. Jonas Salk envisioned a place where researchers could consider the wider implications of their discoveries; in his own words, a place "worthy of a visit by Picasso".

The infinity pool, at the center of the Institute, is a beautiful setting that invites you to reflect on your aims and the reach of your work. Like the pool, ideas flow constantly, and so does life. Working in a place like this could certainly feel like a privilege.

The Infinity Pool at the Salk Institute. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Sun, by Dale Chihuly. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
In addition to its cutting edge research profile, the Salk Institute has become an architectural gem on its own, thanks to its unique design and construction. You can actually enjoy a free architectural tour, which we recommend:

The Institute often hosts amazing art exhibits, such as those of glass artist Dale Chihuly. This particular exhibit celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Institute.
Located in beautiful La Jolla, near the Torrey Pines State Reserve, it also provides an astonishing view of the Pacific coast. Just behind the Institute is the Torrey Pines Gliderport, a well-known takeoff point where the ocean breeze and cliff provide an updraft for paragliders. It's a freebie for extreme sport lovers.

Torrey Pines Gliderport. Picture from Wikimedia Commons
In future posts, we will continue exploring cool and beautiful places to do science. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, please share them with us:
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