Eureka and all that by Trevor Plumbly
The fab lab
As I’ve indicated before, I think it’s highly unlikely that I’ll return in recognisable form once I’ve conked it. BUT… if I did, I’d want to be a researcher; they seem to have all the fun when it comes to academic studies.
If you’re one of these bods you can do all sorts of stuff, like getting a degree in Beatles music. Imagine! Interminable hours spent analysing the social impact of ‘Yellow Submarine’; such a sacrifice surely deserves a degree. It would be nice to think that that particular course of learning was alone in its pursuit of useless knowledge, but sadly it’s not. The catalogue of wasted time and money in pursuit of the inane is almost worth a research grant on its own.
Tomatoes and rats
Many years ago, Prince Charles revealed that he talked to his tomato plants on a regular basis. Some may unkindly regard that as a strange form of growth restriction, but at least it beats the research project which involved giving them electric shocks to discover if they could feel pain.
In 2000, Juan Toro and his relentless colleagues produced evidence that rats and mice could understand certain sentences in Japanese and Dutch, but not (wait for it!), if they were played backwards. It should perhaps be comforting to know that scientific research is reaching beyond human well-being, but somehow the problems we face with cancer, dementia and many other life-threatening illnesses prevent me from being grateful.
The window of opportunity
Researchers down here in NZ have struck yet another blow for asinine activities: they have concluded that thumb-sucking and nail-biting do not indicate a lesser intellect; in fact it could be quite the reverse! How about them apples! This astonishing discovery came from my home town university and prompted this blog.
My research however, did uncover that some brave souls physically engage themselves in promoting the end product: in 1993, Garry Hoy, a Toronto lawyer, keen to demonstrate the strength of a new safety glass, hurled himself against a window, crashed through, and fell to his death several floors below. Now that’s what I call research. In conclusion, don’t worry folks, those old researchers have got those nasty little infant habits well pigeonholed, but watch those tomatoes, if they can feel pain, they might know about revenge.