PARALYZED AND FORCED TO WORK
DOES THIS GIVE YOU THE CREEPS OR WHAT?
Science ain’t so bad but – well – sometimes it’s nothing to rave about.
This is from Professor Fritz Vollrath and colleagues from the Oxford Silk Group at Oxford University’s Department of Zoology . Vollrath has been working on silk. Silk is important because it’s so strong. For some industrial and scientific uses there’s nothing better. The problem is that when silkworms are organized into modern “forced reeling” operations they aren’t the most focused of workers. Some days they’re terrific and other days they’re listening to sports radio and breaking their own silk strands which are supposed to roll smoothly onto reels. When silk is being “farmed” from worms they (the worms that is) aren’t inclined to just lay there and watch their silk being drawn away. They pull back and “interfere” with the process, breaking the strands and screwing up the hopes and aspirations of the silk farmers.
Well leave it to science. Dr. Fritz Vollrath and his team came up with the execrable idea of paralyzing the worms so that they have to lie there all day and night without twitching.
It was a brilliant thought in a Dr. Mengele sort of way. Production soared and the program became, for the first time, a practical operation. The benefits to our particular (human) race are great. Not only is the quantity of silk increased but new varieties with enhanced properties become possible.
As for the worms? Worms are worms, right? We stick them on hooks, we trod over them with our boots. They’re dumber than dumb and we just don’t worry about stuff like that. Is worrying about worm abuse an absurd idea?
The article is in the journal Biomacromolecule .
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The cartoon is mine and, don’t worry Dr. Vollrath, I know you’re no Dr. Mengele. Just advancing the art of silk farming. But somebody’s got to speak up for the little wiggly ones.