Get ready to dance naked in the streets, because scientists
have finally done something that humanity has long dreamed
about, but most of us thought would never happen within our
right: They have levitated a frog.
swear I am not making this up. According to an Associated
Press article sent in by a number of alert readers, British
and Dutch scientists ``have succeeded in floating a frog in
air.'' They did this by using magnetism, which, as you recall
from physics class, is a powerful force that causes certain
items to be attracted to refrigerators. Magnetism is one of
the Six Fundamental Forces of the Universe, with the other
five being Gravity, Duct Tape, Whining, Remote Control and The
Force That Pulls Dogs Toward The Groins Of Strangers.
AP article states that the scientists levitated the frog by
subjecting it to ``a magnetic field a million times stronger
than that of the Earth.'' According to scientists, the frog
``showed no signs of distress after floating in the air inside
a magnetic cylinder.''
am not a trained scientist, but my reaction to that last
statement is -- and I quote -- ``Duh.'' I mean, of course the
frog ``showed no signs of distress'': It's a frog. Frogs are
not known for their ability to show emotions; they are limited
to essentially one facial expression, very much like
Jean-Claude Van Damme. What did these scientists expect the
frog to do? Cry? Hop around on their computer keyboard and
spell out the words ``I AM EXPERIENCING DISTRESS''?
we don't really know what the frog was feeling; this is why we
should be skeptical about the scientists' claim, as reported
in the AP story, that ``there is no reason'' why this same
magnetic technique could not be used on ``larger creatures,
even humans.'' Before we start exposing human beings to
extremely powerful magnetic fields, we should conduct
extensive laboratory tests on Richard Simmons. But if magnetic
levitation really turns out to be safe, I think it could have
some important ``real world'' applications:
GETTING CHILDREN OUT OF BED ON SCHOOL MORNINGS. Scientists
calculate that the attraction between a child and his or her
bed on a school morning can be up to 75 times as strong as
mere gravity. Most parents try to overcome this attraction by
pounding on the door and shouting ineffective threats, the
most popular one being: ``YOU'RE GOING TO BE LATE FOR
SCHOOL!'' The problem with this threat is that it's based on
the idiotic premise that the child wants to be in school and
be forced to sit on a hard chair and figure out how many times
7 goes into 56; naturally, the child prefers the bed.
parents, how much easier it would be if, at 6:30 a.m. on
school mornings, you could simply press a button, thereby
activating gigantic magnets under your child's bed that would
cause the child to float upward, along with any frogs that
happened to be in bed with the child. Then, instead of wasting
your time yelling ``YOU'RE GOING TO BE LATE FOR SCHOOL!'' you
could waste your time yelling ``STOP DRAWING WITH THAT MARKING
PEN ON THE CEILING!'' So perhaps this is not such a good use
for magnetic levitation after all. Perhaps a better one would
COPING WITH PEOPLE WHO ``SAVE'' SEATS. I don't know about you,
but it makes me nuts when I enter a self-service restaurant,
airport gate area, movie theater, etc., and there are people
``saving'' seats -- sometimes lots of seats -- for people who
are not there, and who sometimes do not ever actually show up,
which does not stop the savers from vigilantly guarding their
seats, often by placing items such as shopping bags on them.
My feeling is, if an actual person was physically there and
had to go to the bathroom or something, fine, you can ``save''
that person's seat until he or she returns; but if you're
``saving'' a seat for a hypothetical person who is not there,
then the seat should go to real people who ARE there. The
concept of ``saving'' seats should be restricted to junior
high school, where ``frontsy-backsy'' is still considered a
legal technique for butting into line.
my idea is that public seating areas would be monitored via
cameras; if a ``seat-saver'' was observed denying seats to
real people, the appropriate magnets would be activated, and
the seat-saver, along with the shopping bags, would vacate the
``saved'' seats, very much the way a Poseidon missile vacates
a submarine. Granted, the magnetic field would also prevent
everybody else from using the seats, but I think the overall
effect would be worth it.
IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF MEDICAL CARE. I recently had my
annual physical examination, which I get once every seven
years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to
discover how much stronger the Earth's gravitational pull has
become since 1990. There should be magnets -- very powerful
magnets -- under doctors' scales to compensate for the
gravitational increase, much the way economists adjust dollar
amounts for inflation.
sure I could come up with other practical uses for magnetic
human levitation, but I have to go. It's been an hour since
lunch, and, as a resident of the Earth's magnetic field, I
find myself powerfully attracted to the refrigerator.