Posts Tagged ‘mice’

Snack Science Leads To Discovery About Crocodiles

January 25, 2010

We have reported extensively the experiments in mouse science from which behavioural scientists have learned so much about human intelligence from studying how mice learn to earn snacks by pushing buttons with their noses. So far however we have confined our study to mice and thus have described this area of research as mouse science.

We must now acknowledge our failure to look beyond the work of the mouse watchers has led us into failing in our duty to report fully on the fascinating things scientists do with animals. (Far more fascinating we are told that the things adolescent boys in rural areas do with sheep.)

As a first step towards rectifying this we must rename our mouse science reporting team the Boggart Blog snack science reporting team and widen the scope of their remit to include all the valuable snack related work being done with diverse species. Our first report from the snack science team concerns a project of vital importance to humankind. A group of naturalists at Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port, Wirral have taken the first stemps towards teaching crocodiles to speak.

The saurian genus is one of the most primitive groups of large animals on earth. It is generally accepted that they have not evolved for over 100 million years which is before the Himalayas were raised by tectonic plate activity. Unsurprisingly then Crocodiles and Alligators have never been seen as anything but stupid reptiles whose tiny brains could handle basic survival tasks but little else. It has come as a complete surprise then that Crocodiles are snack and neck with Chimps, Apes, Dolphins, Bears, Dogs, Elephants and other large brained mammals in showing an ability to do things that impress humans.

The key to this breakthrough in discovering hidden depths to Saurian intelligence is snacks.

We should say here Crocodiles have not yet learned to make human sounds in fact they have only made similar hissy sounds to other large reptiles or drag queens on being told their bead shadow is showing. But the Crocodiles of Blue Planet Aquarium have learned to recognise sounds.

A number of young Crocs have been given names and if they respond correctly when their name is called they earn a snack. A sausage we assume. We all learn as children the favourite food of Crocodiles is sausages. It would be curmudgeonly of us to suggest that the Crocodiles have simply learned to associate certain sounds with snacks. This is a long way from the mastering of quantum theory or learning to appreciate the creative techniques of J M W Turner or Ludwig van Beethoven but at least it keeps scientists off the streets.

Clearly snack science has a lot to offer humankind.

More humour every day at Boggart Blog

The Last Word On Mice – For A While.

January 10, 2010

While writing yesterday’s blog on mice with mobile phone related scientific research I heard a story on radio about a pest control firm that has developed a new and highly scientific way of dealing with the plague of mice that are overrunning London’s offices, shops, hotels and restaurants.

The company’s operatives go into a target building, lay down mats coated with special mouse adhesive and themn place mouse bait on the mats. When the little pointy nosed ones go on to the mat to get the free snacks they get stuck.

“And then you return them to the wild?” the ever so politically correct presenter asked hopefully.

“No,” said the pest control spokesman patiently, “we hit them with a builders mallet. They’re vermin.”

Now that is the kind of science we can all engage with. For me it brought to mind an old Kenny Everett sketch where he was a musician who played melodies by hitting captive mice with a mallet to make them squeak.

More humour every day at Boggart Blog

More Demented Mice Science – With Mobile Phones

January 9, 2010

On of the reasons Boggart Blog loves scientists so much is the way that like religious fanatics they just refuse to give up on totally bonkers ideas. Ideas that the one that convinces them making mice behave in totally unnatural ways can teach us valuable lessons about humanity. Perhaps these people were brought up on the stories of Beatrix Potter and thus have a deep seated belief in anthropomorphism.

When we question mouse science the scientists will say “Ah but mice and humans share quite a lot of DNA. This is true, and amoebae also share a surprising amount of DNA with humans to but we don’t expect to see an amoeba that has read Shakespeare, understands modern financial systems and can tell Chateau Petrus from Sneaky Pete* any time soon.

The extent to which we are programmed by our DNA has been vastly overstated as neuroscientists recently learned. We may by act of will change inherited behaviour traits – which is what Hindu mystics have been saying for thousands of years. This more or less demolished one of the trendy new sciences, evolutionary psychology, much favoured by our very favourite sub species of scientists, the boy-scientists hose wide eyed enthusiasm for all things scientific overrides critical thinking, logical deduction and common sense.

It is with considerable joy then that hot on the heels of yesterday’s posts concerning mice, fry ups and the eternal quest of Daily Mail readers to find the Holy Grail that will guarantee they have prodigiously talented babies, we report another project that has set out to equate mouse physiology with human physiology. Scientists are claiming they are on the verge of achieving a breakthrough in the effort to find a treatment for Alzheimers disease after achieving good results with mice “programmed to get Alzheimer’s” by giving them mobile phones.

Laying aside the issue of how anybody can know a mouse has Alzheimer’s or the outrageous assumption that mice whose DNA has been fiddled with to pre-dispose them to Alzheimer’s are certain to develop it, because we have asked such questions before only to be told “you just don’t understand science,” (Maybe not, but we understand mice.) we must ask what is the point of giving mice mobile phones when they have no thumbs with which to text?

Boy scientists in Florida claim to have found mobile phone radiation helps improve the memory of mice programmed to develop Alzheimers. Al least they are not funded by UK taxpayers money. But if the mice are programmed to get Alzheimers disease they have not actually got it have they. No. Because mice don’t get Alzheimer’s disease because they’re mice not human.

So let’s guess how the process works because a lot of the science is rather vague although the bits about “we need lots of money and some jollies to the Seychelles, Paris and Amsterdam to carry out field studies” are quite specific. OK, you programme a mouse to get Alzheimer’s then clamp a little cellphone to its ear and send digital signals into its brain to override the “Get Alzheimer’s Now” routine in the program.

Sounds almost as likely as finding a cure for the common cold.

*Chateau Petrus – The world’s most expensive wine
Sneaky Pete – American slang for cheap, low quality wine fortified with illegally distilled liquor