The room is overtly opulent: real old-wood wood panelling, gem-encrusted gold and platinum ornamentation, luxuriant over-stuffed seating clad in leather from the backs of actual cows. This is BIG pharma.
The man awaits with increasing agitation in front of a pair of oversized doors. The splendour of his surroundings is lost on him.
A door cracks open and a tall, slim woman strides towards him. Despite his emotional turmoil, the man’s attention is drawn immediately to the intricately engineered mane of hair atop her head. He knew without doubt both that great hair was a prerequisite for success and also that he was witnessing a triumph of state-of-the art—and very expensive—low-energy structural-field engineering.
“Doctor Leibowitz? I’m sorry, but the answer is ‘no.’”
The man responds instantly with disbelief. “‘No’? What do you mean, ‘no’? The board can’t just throw away 35 years of work. This is a Nobel prize grade breakthrough. It will totally change the life of every single human being. It will also clearly make this company the richest organisation on the face of this planet.” Angrily: “This is scandalous. They can’t turn this down, I won’t let them!”
The woman’s smooth reply attested to her many years’ attendance at some of the best business schools in the land. “The board acknowledges the magnitude of your achievement and congratulates you on your truly remarkable work but at this time is too concerned about some of the noted side effects to allow the product to progress into the market.”
Leibowitz’s anger gives way slightly and the small amount of emotional space so relinquished is filled by confusion. “What are you saying? There are no significant side effects of any magnitude. We've proven that!”
She is scornful. “‘No significant side effects’ you say? Honestly Doctor! I mean, yes, you have developed a cure for death and well done to you, but do you really think that people would want to live forever if it meant becoming totally bald for the rest of time?” The upwardly mobile young beauty tosses her head, causing her magnificent coiffure to produce a subtle but unmistakeable storm of trapped lightning. Display over, she pronounces: “I most certainly wouldn’t.”