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  • Coke-head Spiders March 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback



    Beachcombing is having a bad day. First Little Miss B keeps on waking up with the screaming eejey weejees and second, Gary V, writes in to tell Beach that he meant Frederick I (Barbarossa) rather than Frederick II in yesterday’s post. The shame, the shame… The worst single accuracy disaster since Beachcombing misquoted John Prine in that far-off, dreadful November of 2010.

    In this difficult time of personal and international catastrophe, when Gaia seems committed to eating little humanity for breakfast and Beachcombing is laying bare his own medieval inadequacies, he thought that he would offer up a rogue researcher post – as regular readers will know a celebration of bizarre scholarly activity in the name of history. Only that today, the rogue scholar is NASA and their experiments deal not with the past but rather with spider-webs and drug use and hence, necessarily, humanity’s perverse creativity. It’s all history in the end though, right?

    The study was published as part of a NASA brief in 1995: R. Noever, J. Cronise, and R. A. Relwani,  ‘Using spider-web patterns to determine toxicity’, NASA Tech Briefs 19. And if that title does not seem promising look at the delicious illustration heading this piece. Here we see a series of spiders who have been fed various stimulants and their subsequent web-building activities.

    Marijuana produces a slightly laid-back, messy web. The benzedrine-dosed spider is manic. Then chloral hydrate, instead of sending the spider to sleep, creates a sparse but beautiful web that would perhaps slow but not halt an arthritic bluebottle in its twilight days.

    The caffeine-eating spider fails, meanwhile, outright: on the basis of this test and making the big assumption that humans are like spiders caffeine would be the biggest inhibitor of activity.

    Government health-warnings and pictures of spider-webs on the side of espresso cups? Beachcombing gives the Federal government and the EU ten years… Coffee tax and advertising bans and rebellious teenagers slurping surreptitious cups of joe are all on the way.

    NASA incidentally has form with cruelty to spiders. In 1973 Arabella and Anita, two garden spiders, were released in Skylab and encouraged to build webs. And the cruelty? Well, apart from the obvious fact that Arabella and Anita didn’t make it back to earth, NASA refused to release flies in Skylab. In fact, the two arachnids were fed with steak… so perhaps it wasn’t that bad, after all.

    Beachcombing is always on the look out for rogue scholars, particularly in history: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com In the meantime, he’s going to catch the bus down to town while reflecting on what would happen to the perfect symmetry of snowflakes if you could somehow get a line of cocaine or St John Wort into a cumulus formation. In fact, the possibilities are endless. Silk worms on LSD, nesting birds on amphetamines…


    19 March 2011: Moonman writes in to say that ‘the guy who is the author of the spider research was the same guy who worked on gravity shielding at MSFC and coordinated a European effort to gather gravity measurements during a eclipse in 1998 and suddenly quit in 2000. Dr. David Noever left NASA to co-found ‘Mobular Technolgies’ (mobular.com).  ‘Mobular Engine lets recipients search content from within their in-boxes instead of clicking on links to Web sites.’ He patented something in 2001, ‘System And Method For Efficiently Accessing Affiliated Network Addresses From A Wireless Device’….The latest online info states ‘Mr. Noever, 44, is a portfolio manager at Genetic Equities, a Huntsville hedge fund that is a trading group of Caxton Associates, a New York firm. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, where he received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics.’ A long way from spider webs, but then Beachcombing’s doctorate didn’t have much to do with the bizarre (sigh!)… It goes without saying that the spider research did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal. Still we can hope… RR meanwhile writes in with this extraordinary and amusing youtube video on spiders, webs and drugs.  Beachcombing took it seriously enough until the commentator got to the restraining order. Thanks Moonman and RR!!