Where Scientist Meets Spiderman...

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As I chug along on my thesis and manuscript-writing, I'm often reminded what it means to "see your name in print." There's something about that feeling of being responsible, in front of the world, for your words and thoughts. However, not all first publications are of strictly scientific merit, as a friend of mine recently relayed to me:

As a neuroscientist in grad school finishing up my dissertation, my
mind drifted recently one night to thinking of the first time my name
was in print. Circa 1992, I was pretty nerdy as a youth (still nerdy
now but proud of it), and I was "that kid" who would go to the local
comic book store every week to buy the newest comics with the money I
made on my paper route. I really liked spiderman then, because, as I
am sure many other nerdy youths thought, "Here's a nerd by day, but by
night he is the most awesome superhero ever, and to boot, he has a
super hot redhead girlfriend!" (Maybe I didn't think much of the
redhead girlfriend Mary Jane, I sure do now, but I was 12 at the time
and my memory is foggy as to whether I was into girls at that age).

I've since sold most of my comic books, but I have kept a special one
sealed in plastic on my bookshelf. See, one day back then I hand-wrote
a letter to the "Amazing Spiderman" editorial office. A couple months
passed, and with every new issue I would check the fan-mail section,
but nothing. Rejected! It held the same emotional impact then as it
does now with my scientific manuscripts.

But the 30th issue anniversary issue came out a couple months later,
with a hologram on the cover and over 50 pages of spiderman action. As
an afterthought I looked at the fan-mail section, and "huzzah!!!" Look
whose letter shows up! And in the 30th anniversary issue! I am a part
of that! That's a hologram, yes, a hologram on the cover!! I spent
days bragging about it to my two friends (OK I had more friends than

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So today I pulled the comic book off the shelf, looked at it, and
smiled at how ridiculous I sounded at 12 years old. Pensive in my
thoughts though, will I read my current scientific manuscripts in 16
years and think the same thing, how ridiculous I sounded as a graduate

But blogs be damned. Part of me still thinks seeing my name there on
cheap newsprint in a spiderman comic in the early 90's beats any web/
scientific presence any day.

Check under the fold for the hologram cover of the 30th anniversary edition!

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More like this

That's awesome. I remember my first time in print (beyond a school newspaper, which doesn't count). It was a Birnbaum travel guide to "Walt Disney World: For Kids, By Kids." It was the first edition (I don't know if they still make them, but they did for a few years), and they brought about 6 kids down to Disney World for a week, all expenses paid, and our family got free passes. Pretty sweet.

They took us in through the "exit" lines of each ride, so we could just cut right ahead, and at the end of the day we'd sit at a big table and the editors would ask us what we thought of each ride. "It was fun" was a pretty typical response, so I guess anything more profound made its way into the book.

My main contribution was a quote at the end: "Make sure you get a lot of sleep, because if you're tired you can't do anything."

Words to live by.

* The sound Gwen Stacy's body makes at a 14 g stop.
* His parents really aren't dead, they're spies!
* He's been framed for murder!
* The monster is someone known to him!
* The monster is him!
* He has a clone!
* He was mistaken, he is the clone!
* Aunt May doesn't need his daily support!
* Aunt May rented out a room to Dr. Octopus!
* He can't make the payments on the Spider Buggy!
* Finally meeting Mary Jane Watson
* They day he met The Trasformers (shocking them both so that neither mentioned the encounter ever again.... PTSD)
* The time Carol Burnett tried to corner the world's raisin market... wait ... wrong story.