La viande robotique

Just an unusual image I ran across in the Journal of the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), in an article entitled “The Robot Butcher” (I can’t make these things up).

Why have a robot cut meat? Efficiency, it seems: the do-dad above can prep 250 kilograms of meat per hour versus the 100 kilograms per hour by its human competitor. And it does so with a smaller margin of error. No way to get a little extra from the butcher anymore. No special cut. And no one to flirt with, either (I’m thinking of Alice on the Brady Bunch here).

The oddness of the image, however, lies in the striking contrast between the mechanized butcher and the all-too fleshy substance of the meat. Somehow, it seems unfair to the cow, and moreover, seems like an intrusion of the mechanical into an utterly animalistic behavior—namely the consumption of one critter by another.

Hrm. Anyway…

There’s a kinda interesting diagram of the Sun, too, but I found the robot butcher more engaging, for whatever reason.

Clan Apis

I just ran across Jay Hosler’s Clan Apis comic book. I’m not a bio kind of guy, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of either the drawings or the science embedded in the story, but both seem spot on. Hosler’s artwork treats the bees with loving detail, while maintaining a pleasant and readable style that hints at manga. The book follows the life of a single bee, Nyuki, touching on her life cycle and the structure of the hive as a whole. A story brilliantly told, with an admirable blend of science and humor.

Clan Apis also receives extensive treatment on Hosler’s website, including a section-by section treatment of the story and the science. Really nice stuff.

This also reminds me of the nascent work of the Small Science Collective, a group of folks (some of whom I happen to know) who create downloadable “mini-zines” with science stories. The idea here is much more of a guerilla tactic: make the comics available for free! (Much like the reprehensible Chick tracts that litter far too many of our nation’s public transportation systems.

As a long-time reader of comics and comic books, I love seeing them used like this!