9 Nov 2013

I Love Science, But Sometimes It Makes Me Sad

Science is great. Before I went to secondary school and found out the science teachers were awful and the English teachers were divine, I always thought I would go into some branch of science when I grew up. When I was four I wanted to be an archaeologist. By the time I was nine I wanted to do forensics. When I was about ten I briefly looked at physics, and then quickly shut the door again. I still do like science a lot, just not in an academic sense. It's no secret that I have a bottomless pit of love for Brian Cox. Indeed, when the trailer for his Science Of Doctor Who lecture came up on my telly box, I squealed so loudly that my mother left the room.

But sometimes science does bad things, and that makes me sad. This afternoon while out adventuring in the Welsh countryside with my dad, we came across a fish farm. We didn't think it was a fish farm at first, because it looks like a front for a shady James-Bond-villain type operation. We googled it, and it turns out it is in fact, a fish farm. Which is fine, it itself. It is in fact the only producer of sea bass in the UK, so there we go. They're very proud of themselves because they use fancy, fishy technology, which means that the fish grow faster. They also keep them very densely stocked, so the fish hardly have any room to move freely. Under normal circumstances the fish would suffer very high stress level from these conditions, so to compensate they put extra oxygen in the water to calm them down. 
I kind of think the fish would be better off with just a bit more space. Although the company website claims they're happy, I'm not entirely sold. They were very cramped. It's like a massive fish shopping center near Christmas when people are running out of time do do the shopping, only instead of getting some new shoes, you get eaten in the end. 

The other thing, which I think is a little bit worse, is the 'cockroach backpack app' which the BBC reported on today. I know the BBC has to maintain an even view and stay on the middle ground, but luckily, I don't. I can be as biased and annoyed as I like. And I am very, of both.
It's a horrible idea. In an attempt to 'encourage children to take an interest in neuroscience', an app has been developed which links a mobile phone to a chipboard glued to a cockroaches back, after it's antennae have been removed, and part of it's shell sandpapered off. Two little needles are pushed into it's head, which allow whoever has the app to control in which direction the insect moves. There's a small plethora of issues with this. For one, no, I don't care that it's only a cockroach. The idea that humans should be placed in a position of importance over all other creatures is both mean, and creepy. Just because it's  gross, does not mean we should be permitted to go around wildly torturing it. If someone did the same operation on a human, a horse, a dog or a hamster there would be outcry, and the RSPCA would be sent in lickedy split, on the double. So be nice to cockroaches, yeah? They're ew, but they've never shoved a mind-controlling circuit into your brain. Another point is is the reasons the manufacturers have for making it.   They say that it encouraged kids to develop in interest in neuroscience. No it doesn't. It says to kids "here, you like hurting small things, hurt this one WITH AN IPHONE, BECAUSE THOSE ARE COOL AS WELL!" No child will be piloting a cockroach thinking "This is great, I'm going to try and cure depression when I grow up." Not any child that I know, anyway.

Finally, I'll end on a slightly petty note, because I do that quite well. According to the creators the backpacks "allow students to do graduate level research early in life". THAT'S NOT A GOOD THING. GET GRADUATE STUDENTS TO DO GRADUATE RESEARCH. STOP TRYING TO SHIFT IT ONTO KIDS SO YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH BULLYING TINY INSECTS, YOU NASTY, INSUFFERABLE, MISPLACED ELECTRICIANS. I hope the kids pilot the cockroaches into your soup.

PS, I'm doing a re-haul of my blogroll. If you have a blog you want me to promote then leave a comment with a link and I'll have a look. Triple chances if I know you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment