Dan Rattiner's Stories

Page D3: Solving Sex, Global Warming and Healthcare in One Place

The New York Times has been solving the problems of the world once a week for years. They do it in the section called “Science Times,” which appears every Tuesday. But they never quite take it far enough. I would like to take that extra step here.

I direct your attention to page D3 from Tuesday, February 6. It solves global warming, sex and healthcare. There is a photograph of a peculiar kind of salamander. The article that follows solves our healthcare system problems.

“Scientists have decoded the genome of the axolotl,” the article begins. The work has been done at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna. The results of their work appear in the magazine Nature.

An axolotl is a special kind of salamander found in Mexico. Its genome consists of 32 billion separate pairs. This number of genome pairs is greater than that of any other creature. Indeed, the axolotl has 10 times the number of genome pairs that humans do.

The axolotl has many special qualities. With its genome solved, all we have to do is apply the axolotl’s special qualities to humans. That will result in the end of all our health care problems.

If you amputate an axolotl’s leg, it regrows the leg, complete with bones, muscles and nerves. If you crush its spinal cord, it regenerates the spinal cord. If you cut an axolotl, its skin heals without leaving a scar. If you damage an internal organ, it repairs itself by itself. I am not making this up.

Nobody is going to have to go to a doctor or take medicine anymore. If you get sick or something gets damaged, just lie down and it all gets better. No health care necessary.

We have the solution to the “thinking with the small brain” problem here on page D3, too. It’s in a little Q&A section. A reader asks: “Does an octopus have a brain? Where is it? And just how smart is an octopus?”

Turns out, an octopus has a central brain in its head but then eight more brains at the end of each of its eight tentacles. If an octopus wants to swim through a maze, open a jar, or decide on the size and shape of something in its path, it can think that with the brain in its head. Or, if you disable the brain in the head, it can still think with each tentacle. To completely disable an octopus, you have to disable the tentacles, too.

Human males have one appendage that females don’t. When certain men agree they have to go to sex-attitude readjustment clinics, make sure that both brains get readjusted.

Finally, the quick-fix solution to climate change is also on page D3. Scientists have figured out what happened to the Earth’s climate when the big volcano Pinatubo exploded in the Philippines in 1991. Smoke and sulfur dioxide gasses spewed up into the atmosphere. The average temperature in the world declined by one degree for several years as a result

A similar thing happened when the famous volcano Krakatoa exploded in Sumatra in 1883. Nobody was measuring anything then, but the skies around the world darkened and temperatures cooled for years. People made magnificent paintings of the spectacular sunsets through the haze during those years.

But when Mount St. Helens exploded in Washington in 1980, the temperature did not decline. Why? Alan Robock, an SRM (Solar Radiation Management) researcher at Rutgers University, told the Times that it’s “important to learn how volcanoes affect climate.” Mount St. Helens, although of similar force as the other two, didn’t aim straight up as much. Most of its emissions came out sideways, the Times wrote, and that’s probably what the difference was.

Now it appears Mt. Agung in Bali is about to explode. Everybody wants to be ready with balloons and airplanes and so forth to see what happens.

I recall that in about 1990 somebody saying that if you sprayed his special chemical on the radiators of every automobile in the world, they would motor along sucking in carbon dioxide and spewing out water.

Let’s cap all the volcanoes, except Mt. Agung.

There is a fourth article on page D3, but I can’t figure out if it solves any huge problem or not. I think, after reading it, I’m just too freaked.

It involves the dynamics about how snakes slither. How do they? Well, scientists at the University of Cincinnati caught some snakes, put electrodes on the muscles inside the snakes’ skin and watched TV screens as they slithered off. The New York Times article summarized the results in this paragraph written by Science Take writer James Gorman.

“As the snake moves forward, a muscle in its belly skin shortens the skin and stays tensed. Then a muscle running forward from the tip of one rib to the skin tenses to pull the skeleton and body forward over the skin. Another muscle that runs toward the tail from the middle of a rib to the skin pulls the skin forward.”

It solves…what?

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