Wednesday, 11 March 2009

F*ck you I won't do what you tell me

Except I probably will because I am pathologically afraid of "getting into trouble", whatever that may mean at any given time.

So if the following, purely hypothetical, situation were to happen to me I'd be absolutely beside myself. But it wasn’t me it was a friend. And of course it was hypothetical so it didn’t even really happen to her*

This friend woke up at 3am one morning last week, heart racing at the sudden realisation that HER TAX DISC HAD EXPIRED. According to her report, she initially wanted to violently shake her husband awake and scream "I don't have a valid tax disc" in his face, such was her gut churning panic.

She resisted. At 5am the sound of a car engine woke her. She vaulted out of bed and ripped the curtains open expecting to find the DVLA laughing manically as they clamped her little car. It wasn't them. Back to sleep until proper morning, to dream of various scenarios involving bankruptcy and/or jail.

She made it through toast and coffee without bursting into tears, and went and sorted herself out with a nice new tax disc.

Honestly if this highly unlikely situation were to happen to me I’d think myself a complete tool.

*just so as you know, nice representative of any relevant authority that happens to be reading

Monday, 2 March 2009

We'll send him a red cap and a Speedo.

Whenever people ask me, and they often do, which Wes Anderson film best evokes what it’s like to be a scientist, I say “Why, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou of course”.

If I thought I could fund my research by making exciting and colourful popular films about my findings, I absolutely would. The crucial difference here is that Steve Zissou et al.’s data look like this (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Crayon Pony Fish

Any samples I deal with are either pus or blood. Apparently the film-going public just aren’t that interested. I had assumed that this was the case for most other scientists. Then I see THIS…

Fig. 2 “Oh hai!”

Meet “Psychedelica”, a new species of fish reported by Ted Pietsch and colleagues in the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Isn’t it wonderful? Clearly the creature’s name was inspired by its migraine-inducing good looks but, as the press release points out, “Psychedelica is perhaps even more apt given the cockamamie way the fish swim”.

Members of Histiophryne psychedelica, or H. psychedelica, propel their crazy selves along by pushing off from the sea floor with their fins and expelling water from tiny grill openings on their side to jet themselves forward. They don’t seem to concern themselves with steering too much. Fortunately, they have “gelatinous bodies covered with thick folds of skin” to protect them as they bumble along looking for food.

The video is well worth a look. Little beast made my day.

Psychedelica image ©David Hall/