Mapping Swak! Bill Rebeck

Stanislav Wasco grew up near an isolated town in Slovakia, which is cursed by a male genetic disease that causes many of the men to die of hemorrhagic strokes after they are startled by noise. Stan returns to this town, Banska Orsina, as a scientist, to pursue the genetic cause of this disease. He collects DNA and family histories from townspeople with the help of Tony, another scientist, and Ruby, the niece of his high school sweetheart. Stanislav falls in love again with his sweetheart, Terka, but flees back to the U.S. when he discovers he is at risk for the disease. Ruby accompanies him, and they begin analyzing the DNA samples. At first Ruby gets her work done only by flirting, but later she is inspired by information about a mouse line that she thinks has their disease they call Swack. Ruby secretly pursues her idea, and learns that not only is she good at science, but she also loves this oddball lifestyle. Her efforts pay off, and she discovers the cause of Swack. Stan could now know his fate, but with Terka, they decide that his future will remain unknown. The scientists' work on the Banska Orsina families provides other clues that lead Stan to discover that a local "fish pill," taken for soft skin, serendipitously protects one from Swack. Our scientists have removed the danger of this terrible fate, and Ruby decides to pursue what was undoubtedly her fate, another life in the laboratory.


Writer: Bill Rebeck





Feature Films

A science focused teaching framework for short and feature films, all of which have received awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their depictions of scientific themes or characters.