Random Walk

When one starts a web-walk there are always surprising discoveries at every turn, sometimes inspiring, sometimes funny or strange and often sad. Today, I was sort of inspired by the news of Clyde Space and their plan for production of their mini-satellite, UKube1 (1). My first unworthy thought was that the ube1 was an indication of a Star Wars connection but I quickly pushed that aside. The inspiring part of the story is that Clyde Space in Scotland has a large part of the market for manufacturing bits and pieces for satellites such as solar panels. Strange for a country where I heard in Lochalsh that ‘If you can see Skye, it’s going to rain shortly, if you canna see it, it’s raining already’.

Tripping happily along the web to Africa I came on the news about a new anti-pollution law in Malawi, which has sparked a high profile argument between the Justice Minister and the Solicitor General. The Justice Minister insists that any occurrence of flatulence in public is illegal; it is a form of noxious air pollution that is no longer allowed. From now on the population will have a clenched up look rather than a buttoned up expression. It is just as well that the two largest cities, Lilongwe (the capital) and Blantyre (the economic center), do not have very many high rise blocks or else the numbers of new recruits as Elevator Police would put a huge load on the exchequer.

Moving swiftly on to other more fragrant environmental matters, there is a new public access spectra database that enables one to look at a flower and see as a bee sees (2). In clarification, it is a website where you have to submit raw reflectance spectra data that you have recorded to get the full picture. Interesting because bee’s vision works into the ultraviolet and they see things that we can’t. The nectaries on plants are clearly marked for bees with landing strips laid out on the petals and targets for them to stick proboscis in.

Unfortunately when hitting the PLoS ONE journal site, the anesthesiology and pain management section comes up first and a decapitation study (3) tripped me up. The question asked: is decapitation humane? The subjects were ‘obsolete’ rats in the Netherlands. The methodology was using EEG with anesthetized and wide-awake animals. The results indicated that consciousness decreases with time at the rate: C(t)=exp(-t/6), which means that the half-life of being awake after the blade falls is 4 secs. Even more spine chilling was that the EEGs of the anesthetized subjects indicated that the process woke them up. Where are we going with these experiments? Bearing in mind that animal experiments are used as a human model, the Netherlands has a euthanasia provision and is right close to France with “Madame, La Guillotine”. Mmm.. I’ll have to stop watching horror movies and reading historical spine-chillers!

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-12334344
3. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0016514

One Response so far.

  1. jazgal says:

    Skipping the light fantastic!

Leave a Reply