Even in the fields of eugenics and DNA, few have heard of Dr. Stein. A year ago, Wired Magazine printed a passing reference to him, dubbing the scientist, “The Poor Man’s God.”
Intrigued, I tracked down Dr. Stein. Dr. Stein, 67, wears eyeglasses that are duct-taped together and dresses in what appears to be thrift-shop clothing.
As we sipped soft drinks at an outdoor café on the UCLA campus, I remarked that he did not fit the stereotypical mold of a professor.
“I’m no longer a tenured professor,” said Dr. Stein. “As a matter-of-fact, I’m not on the faculty anymore. If the campus police knew I was here I would be arrested.”
“I read some of your early papers on test tube babies. They were astonishing,” I said.
“I was vilified by the scientific community, a community that is supposed to embrace knowledge and research. All my colleagues want is bigger grants for bigger projects. They can’t do things on the cheap. I went far beyond the test tube,” said Dr. Stein.
“What would be past the test tube, Dr. Stein?”
“The bathtub,” he said. “I used an old cast-iron bathtub with claw feet. I was able to duplicate humans in that bathtub.”
“Why a bathtub?”
“Because, you fool,” said the doctor, “you can’t create and maintain human life in a test tube. You can’t even squeeze a finger in a test-tube, let alone a torso. To create human life requires a container at least the size of a bathtub.”
“What else do you need to make life?” I asked.
“Our ancestors came out of the primordial soup of life. I have discovered that soup.”
“You have?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. And for a fraction of the price that my so-called colleagues could make it for.”
“What is in that primordial mix?” I asked.
Dr. Stein finished his soft drink and glanced furtively around the campus. “Water. Ascorbic acid. Fructose. Citric acid. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil and tomatoes. Also certain spices.”
“How do you combine them?” I asked.
“You don’t have to. You can buy the liquid ready-made from Campbell’s.”
“Are you talking about Campbell’s Tomato Soup?” I asked.
“I am. Simply fill a bathtub with Campbell’s Tomato Soup and keep the temperature at 98.6 degrees.”
“How do you do that?”
“You hire a pretty co-ed with big hooters to check the tub ever hour. When the soup is cold, you have her add hot water. Quite simple.”
“Why does she have to be pretty?” I asked.
“Because pretty co-eds are more fun to have sex with than ugly ones,” said Dr. Stein.
“You have sex with the co-eds?” I asked.
“Oh, yes, in the bathtub. That’s how we introduce the sperm into the primordial soup. I was able to mass produce a limitless supply of co-eds with 38-D hooters.”
“And your colleagues turned on you because you wouldn’t share your secret of inexpensive creation with them?” I asked.
“No, I told you, they don’t want a cheap way to make clones. I wouldn’t share the cloned co-eds. That’s what lost me tenure. Did you know that Wired Magazine called me the Poor Man’s God — “
But before we could continue the campus police spotted him. Dr. Frank N. Stein, reeking of tomato paste, darted into the nearby bushes and vanished.