by Mary Abraham and Jochen Rink
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge
We investigated the effect of using music to enhance the sub-optimal system of undergraduate laboratory research assistants (Researcheria virginium). Many aspects of the interaction between the undergraduate and the laboratory bench leave much to be desired. We focused on the simplest -- yet easily quantifiable -- laboratory skill, the noble art of accurate pipetting.
Many publications have documented the beneficial effects of music on mind
and body, a phenomenon known as the Mozart
effect. Intelligence improves whilst one listens to music. It is
also known that classical music causes significant increases in the milk
yield of Holstein
cows (Bovus holsticus). We merely attempted to see if music could
be successfully applied in a similar way on a different problem.
Theoretical Pretext for this Research
Our premise was that pipetting errors must originate somewhere within the
sensory motor axis of the undergraduate. Thus our investigation plumbs the
depths of the undergraduate central nervous system (CNS), such as it is.
First we discovered that when a student pipetted to musical accompaniment,
his or her speed, accuracy and final experimental success rates were transformed.
We witnessed dazzling refinements in all aspects of pipetting that came
under our scrutiny (data not shown). The authors personal recommendation
for a piece of music ideally suited for this purpose is Strauss "The
Suggestive as these preliminary findings were, our most significant discovery
was unexpected, and momentous. There is a synergistic effect when music
is used to synchronise the pipetting of all the workers on a bench.
We completely shattered world records for experimental success rates (data
Moreover, it is our conviction that no display of synchronized motion in
the natural world can rival the heavenly vision of a symmetrical row of
researchers rhythmically pipetting. The majestic beauty of such a sight
has moved several (two of two) of the investigators to tears.
We believe that this combination of laboratory procedure and music points, somehow, to the missing link between science and art, with the power to transform lives.
Our subjects, damn them, showed a marked reluctance to provide sufficient
volume of CNS tissue samples us to do a proper physiological and biochemical
analysis. Therefore the molecular basis, if any, for the effect remains
© Copyright 2001 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)