Adventures in Ethics and Science

i-d5f739aeaf936786a443696af9b919bd-GermCloseUp.jpgNature study has taken a turn from the macroscopic to the microscopic. Is it a coincidence that the Free-Ride family has also been passing around a cold? While your blogger felt sure she would be able to avoid catching it, the young Free-Riders are extremely effective vectors of disease.

Dr. Free-Ride: What do you know about germs?

Younger offspring: They can make you sick.

Dr. Free-Ride: Is that why I’m sick right now, because of germs?

Younger offspring: Yeah.

Dr. Free-Ride: Where did I get them?

Younger offspring: (looking just a little bit proud) From me!

Dr. Free-Ride: You’re sure about that, huh?

Dr. Free-Ride: What else do you know about germs?

Younger offspring: I know how not to spread them so much. You should sneeze or cough into your elbow.

Dr. Free-Ride: Why your elbow?

Younger offspring: If you sneeze or cough onto your hand, then you use your hand to touch stuff, the germs go from your sneeze to your hand to the thing you touch, and someone else could touch it and get the germs.

Dr. Free-Ride: So, I guess you don’t touch too many things with your elbow.

Younger offspring: Well, if you hook up elbows with someone else, it could spread the germs.

Elder offspring: Many bacteria are good, some are bad. Most viruses are bad, although some might do good things.

Dr. Free-Ride: What else do you know about germs?

Elder offspring: They multiply! Dark, damp places are the best places for germs to divide. First there’s one, then *split*, 2. *Split*, 4. *Split*, 8. *Split*, 16. *Split*, 32. And it keeps going!

Dr. Free-Ride: That’s exponential growth for you.

Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Do they just split?

Elder offspring: Huh?

Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Well, if they just divide, won’t each generation be smaller than the one before it?

Elder offspring: Oh yeah, they grow before they divide. Grow, grow, grow, *split*! Grow, grow, grow, *split*! Grow, grow, grow, *split*!

Dr. Free-Ride: Hey, no need to cheer them on. I think they know what they’re doing.

i-abd6d7915f7931be2c71ab20aebbb1c1-FashiGerms.jpg

Taking a cue from Karl Popper, the elder offspring had made a bold conjecture that there exist a group of germs (dubbed the “Fashi germs”, so no time is wasted thinking about a name for them once they are discovered) that are beneficial and that will resemble those pictured above when visualized with microscopy. It would appear that that’s a dragon working the microscope.

Comments

  1. #1 Tara C. Smith
    March 31, 2006

    So wise… :)

    My 3-year-old always coughs/sneezes into his elbow–they teach that at his preschool as well. Last time we were back home, my husband’s grandmother chided him for it–telling him to use his hands! Aargh…

  2. #2 Thomas Winwood
    March 31, 2006

    I’m in favour of more draconian involvement in science.

  3. #3 bill thater
    March 31, 2006

    to quote a very old .sig file:
    “do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and go well with catsup.”

  4. #4 Honeybee
    March 31, 2006

    It’s funny to realize that the germ-theory wasn’t common knowledge or even an accepted hypothesis until the late 1800s. The Irish Potato Famine helped seal the deal, along with Koch’s postulates.

    Now even the little ones have some understanding of germs.

  5. #5 JM
    March 31, 2006

    Those are really good drawings — the spitting images of the plush microbes (from which I know all I know about science and stuff). Do the sprogs have a set, or do they know science because they’re smart and stuff? I’m betting the latter.

    [I think elder offspring's health teacher may have a set of the plush microbes. I'm covetous of them.]