The Scientist is a documentary directed by Zack Klein featuring Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, a chemist known for his research on cannabis, the most misunderstood plant. The documentary follows Dr. Mechoulam’s story from his early childhood in Rehovot to his discovery of Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC). After discovering THC, he ascertained that the active compound interacts with the largest receptor in the human body, the endocannabinoid system. He later found out that human brain produces our own marijuana and investigated the role of cannabis in medicine and
other applications. The following are some of the things I learned while watching the documentary:
Choosing a topic is very important when doing research. In the documentary, Dr. Mechoulam decided to work on a topic of importance not being pursued by major groups while also considering funding.
In research, collaboration is important because you will need other experts in different field who may contribute in your research. No single lab has all the expertise, so collaboration is a must.
Research is continuous
It is stated in the documentary that in research, you know how to start but never know how it ends, and I couldn’t agree more. Research is continuous; it doesn’t stop. Every time a study is published, we will always end with a question mark.
Research is competitive
It was mentioned that while they were trying to extract the compound, they noticed that other labs also started trying to extract the compound. This made them doubt that they might be scooped up by other labs. Just like the documentary I watched on the discovery of the DNA structure where competition was also present, the scientists who were awarded for their discoveries sneaked and stole the work of others.
The documentary made me wonder why this is only known to few and why I only heard Dr. Mechoulam after watching the documentary. I hope that more people will be educated about this topic and not misuse the plant.
On Being a Scientist by Leiden University is a film that tackles about science, some of its major issues and what it’s like to be a scientist. The plot revolves primarily around Pierre's attempt to be recognized for his contribution to their research with Ponter, as well as all other conflicts. I like Nicholas Ponter's lines as well as his conversations with his daughter. Especially the one they had when they were having dinner. What is unappealing is Ponter’s attitude and also the relationships of the characters with each other. The film also addresses the issue of ethics. Proper discussion should be made between Ponter and Pierre about authorship. The latter also acquired illegal evidence against Ponter. The film showed the dirty side of research. And as I was watching the film I certainly see similarities in real life and also to the history of research just like on the documentary on race of the discovery of DNA structure. Just like in the documentary, research could be passion but it could also be used as a personal means of getting through something such as promotion to work and in Rebecca’s case, to get her degree.
In conclusion, the The Scientist and On Being a Scientist showed the pros and cons of doing research and the path to becoming a scientist. Both showed me what it’s like to conduct research and the things to consider in conducting one. The path to becoming a scientist is a long distance train
journey. You must be passionate, willing to take risks, eager to learn, and be persistent. Of course, without compromising ethics.