Letters Re: Robosnail: Science or sex toy?
MIT's use of a sophisticated dildo to study snail locomotion caught the attention of El Reg readers with many suggesting that Robosnail's worth may go well beyond the simple study of secretion. It turns out that sexual aids play a bigger role in science than previously expected and that our readers are well versed in both the contents and usage of K-Y Jelly. Who knew?
Okay, we knew.
Don't be knocking KY as a valid tool in Physics.
When I was doing my undergrad, I assisted in desiging a lab experiment based on heat transfer. We needed to maximize the thermal transfer between dissimilar materials. The standard heat transfer compound was too expensive and almost impossible to clean up afterwards. After trying several alternatives, we settled on the KY. Although it doesn't have the best thermal conductivity, being water based means it's relatively easy to clean up and doesn't leave permanent stains on clothes.
You wrote: "Studying snail movement must have some merits. They're interesting enough creatures, but is this really how MIT professors should spend their time?"
Apart from the fact that it's more likely to be postgrads and not professors doing the actual work, yes, this is exactly how academics should be spending their time: in the search for abstract knowledge. You never know when something will pay off, and for the trivial amounts of money it costs, the returns are enormous.
As you say yourself, "studying snail movement must have some merit". You pretty much answer your own question really.
And another thing, if you think the robosnail looks like a sex toy, you have a much weirder imagination than I do.
It's a mix of professors and postgrads here, Steven. Don't get bogged down in the snail details. Let your libido loose. If that's not a workhorse of a vibrator, we don't know what is.
I would say that MIT's research is extremely useful - understanding how small inverterbrates work could lead to far greater and better things.
Once they've mastered the snail, they can start work on other insignificant spineless slimy creatures and try to work out how politicians think...
We'd say, "Good one, Dan," but are not sure that is appropriate. To your point, however, we think Attorney General John Ashcroft is already aware of Robosnail. He's seen taking a ride on the contraption here. He, of course, only plays with Robosnail while dressed in business attire.
You noted that researchers at MIT tried glycerin and water, and noted that you think they secretly tried KY Jelly as well. You might be interested in another product from KY called KY Liquid which is mostly glycerin and water!
You're right, Michael. Excuse our ignorance in the lubricant field. Even the ingredients of regular, old K-Y Jelly are as follows: Chlorhexidine Gluconate, Glucono Delta Lactone, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Methylparaben, Purified Water, Sodium Hydroxide. ®