Ever on the cutting-edge of strange new records that no one had ever thought to create, much less break, the Guinness World Record organization has awarded yet another bizarre honor, this time to a group that put together “largest gathering of people dressed as scientists.” It had very little to do with science, but it may have been one of the most scientific-looking events in recent history.
As stated in a press release, 893 people dressed as scientists gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah, to break the record. The event was put together by USANA, a nutritional supplement marketing scheme, to honor its 25th anniversary. In order for attendees to count towards the record, they had to be wearing a white lab coat and safety goggles, and be holding a test tube or beaker—pretty much be a scientist in a cartoon.
For over a century, the white lab coat has been the widely recognized uniform that screams “scientist.” Once, they were much more strictly utilitarian garments that would make any potentially caustic spills instantly identifiable, but the coat has since spread out to a number of other industries, including engineering and medicine. Physicians adopted the white lab coat back in the 19th century to bring a measure of perceived seriousness and professionalism to the field, which historically had been rife with quackery. The pristine white coat signaled cleanliness and scientific rigor.
Ironically, those same white coats are now thought by some to be potentially harmful because they can stress people out, and cause what’s called “white coat hypertension.” But as a cartoonish shorthand, the white lab coat still can’t be beat. However, the same cannot be said for this world record, which, sitting at under 1,000, is just begging to be overtaken. In fact, it wouldn’t be all that hard to top with actual scientists.