FAIRBANKS — A few weeks ago an online article from Science 2.0 titled “How to Tell Two Squid Apart” wouldn’t have interested me, but that was before I read another article from the same source, “That Squid on Your Plate Could Inseminate Your Mouth.”
The latter article cites a study from the February issue of the Journal of Parasitology that “presents the tale of a woman eating squid who experienced ‘severe pain’ and a ‘pricking, foreign-body sensation’ in her mouth. The details would put you off your calamari, so I’ll desist, except to say the Korean woman who was affected ate a whole squid, including vital organs, and “most Western squid preparations remove the internal organs … so there’s no danger.”
It still doesn’t hurt to know the difference between Humboldt squids (loose skin and free funnel-mantel cartilage) and its look-alike cousins, purpleback flying squids, with their tight skin and fused funnel-mantel cartilages. It might come in handy or enliven a conversation.
Depending on the topic, reading medical papers is a sure-fire method for either combating insomnia or curling your hair. Speaking of which, my encounter three decades ago with photographic evidence of black hairy tongue disease in the Illustrated Dictionary of Medical Symptoms remains remarkably fresh. Even nonlibrarians have learned the danger of doing medical research on the Internet and learning you have symptoms of nearly every malady encountered.
Surgical procedures make reliably gruesome reading. A year ago, our library received a nice donation along these lines: an 1812 book titled “Traite Pratique des Hernies.” Considered by experts to be the authoritative work on the subject, its renowned medical illustrator author, Antonio Scarpa, illustrated the many ways hernias can happen. Not your typical bedtime reading, perhaps, but it’s worth nearly $1,000 and too delicate to circulate.
So, like most books donated to the public library, this one will be sold by the Fairbanks Library Foundation to raise money for the purchase of new library books.
Not everything in recent science news is so perturbing. July 18 was the 20th anniversary of the first Internet photograph, a promotional photo of “Les Horribles Cernettes,” an “all-female parody pop group” composed of girlfriends and wives of researchers at CERN.
CERN’s the Franch acronym for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where the Higgs boson “god particle” was discovered recently at CERNs Large Hadron Collider, the initials of which match those of the musical group. Their photo is on their Wikipedia article.
You’ll recall that the first photograph was taken in 1826 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and showed the partially obscured view of a roof.
The first television transmission happened in 1925 when Scottish engineer John Logie Baird transmitted the image of a grim-faced ventriloquist’s dummy named “Stooky Bill.” Stooky’s a Scottish expression for plaster of Paris and people with slow intellects.
The first video uploaded to the Internet was fittingly filmed in 2005 by Jawed Karim, one of the founders of YouTube.com. Titled “Me at the Zoo,” the 19-second video shows Karim near an elephant describing its “really, really, really, really looooong … trunk. Now Karim’s a multimillionaire, his video has been viewed over eight million times, and the Los Angeles Times says “it played a pivotal role in fundamentally altering how people consumed media and helped usher in the golden era of the 60-second video.”
Irish inventor Jane ni Dhulchaointigh’s star, on the other hand, is still rising. In 2010 she invented “Sugru, which Wikipedia calls a “multi-purpose, non-slumping variant of silicone that resembles modeling clay. It is malleable when removed from its airtight and moisture-proof packaging, retains its plasticity for 30 minutes. … It self-cures at room temperature after approximately 24 hours.”
It also possesses a soft, grippable texture, and is thermally insulated, waterproof and dishwasher safe. The substance’s name, Sugru, comes from the Irish language word “súgradh” for “play.” It works with Makbots and other 3-D printers, it has thousands of potential do-it-yourself applications.
DIYers, the abbreve for “do-it-yourselfers,” are anxious to start playing with Sugru. But Ms. Dhulchaointigh warned on the Daily Grommet chatroom that Sugru’s “not toxic but it’s not food-grade so you shouldn’t use it in direct contact with food or drink.” That includes squids.
Greg Hill is director of Fairbanks North Star Borough libraries.