There's the Poet Laureate of the United States, that profound artist who can capture the national experience in a few strokes of the pen. Labs up to national scale particle accelerators have their artists-in-residence, to bridge the gap between the deepest intellectual experience and the deepest emotional experience. Why isn't there a national Cartoonist Laureate, or funding for the Cartoonist-in-Residence at the most advanced centers of scientific research?
Maybe it's because we already have Sidney Harris. He unites our frontal lobes with our funny bones, with clear eyed but affectionate humor. That cover panel for example - yes, things do get a bit heated sometimes under the guise of anonymous review, or not so anonymous. (I had one of those go-rounds just yesterday, failing to praise what needed to be praised in front of the guy who needed to hear the praise. He's a Big Name and I'm not.)
Other humor fades into quaint anachronism just weeks after it's published. Not Harris. Look at the panel with two lab doors next to each other: "Conversion of petroleum products to food substitutes" and "Conversion of food products to petroleum substitutes." That's as pointed as today's headlines about food prices rising because of federally mandated ethanol for car fuel. Or the massive building labeled 'microprocessors'. Antlike people leaving the massive hive say "The smaller we make `em, the bigger we get." Heck, that's even more true today than it was 15+ years ago. I'm looking at the price of a new chip fabrication plant, compared to wealth of the world's nations - 30 to 40 nations each have a GDP lower than the $1-2B cost of a new fab, as of recent numbers. My favorite, though, might be a new Moses coming down from a new Mountain with new Laws: "1)Speed of light ... 2) Gravity ..." If I were a theist, I'd accept that Word before anything else.
Although these cartoons originally appeared 1991 and before, almost none of them have aged. Someone might niggle about the width of a necktie - pshaw. These cartoons are about the people in science, and face it: we haven't changed all that much since we were swinging in trees and flinging poo at each other. Harris captures all the flea-scratching and poo-flinging that really goes on inside our ivory towers and gigabuck labs. This doesn't degrade science, quite the opposite. It leaves me marvelling that creatures so flawed as ourselves have achieved what we have, even if there's an occasional flea to scratch.