Thursday, October 23, 2008

Double-Sided Sticky Tape

So, this year if you happen to send Christmas presents to disadvantaged kids in foreign lands- you know, the ones who don't have shoes or running water or electricity, and every single one of them peers at his or her pitiful world through big wide puppy-dog eyes waiting for an American to save the day- you can feel like you're doing an extra helpful favor:

Tape measure: X-rays detected from Scotch tape

"...Escobar, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports the work with UCLA colleagues in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

"He suggests that with some refinements, the process might be harnessed for making inexpensive X-ray machines for paramedics or for places where electricity is expensive or hard to get. After all, you could peel tape or do something similar in such machines with just human power, like cranking."

Don't get me wrong. There are disadvantaged kids in foreign lands, and even in our Own Land. And kids everywhere shouldn't get Christmas presents. They should! Even if the PC Police are out again this year trying to put a moratorium on the use of the word "Christmas" in public, and to apply a hefty fine and perhaps a little jail time on those who don't comply. Presents are fun. Kids should have fun. Grownups, too. Presents for everyone, no matter what our eyes look like or where we live or whether we have shoes to wear or wear them if we have them.

"But," you may ask, "is it SAFE to use Scotch tape? Have I been irradiating myself all these years with undue amounts of x-radiation? Will I die of cancer?" Perhaps you will. Who knows? But not caused by contact with Scotch tape. If that were the case, my Aunt Joan would have shriveled up and gone long ago, and she is still kicking. And I would be bedridden by now, or using up the remainder of my credit card balances on sweet trips to Scotland and Barcelona if I could walk, just before I go.

"Escobar noted that no X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum — not exactly an everyday situation.

"'If you're going to peel tape in a vacuum, you should be extra careful,"'he said. But 'I will continue to use Scotch tape during my daily life, and I think it's safe to do it in your office. No guarantees.'"

OK, so no guarantees on the tape, but no guarantees on anything in life, right? And come to think of it, daily life in a vacuum is a reality for some of us.

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