[Dailydave] Mosquito Based "Science"
dave at immunityinc.com
Mon Jul 16 17:02:24 EDT 2012
So there's a number of reasons to hate this TED video, and only some of
them relate to the sweater. But to start off: some context. I live in
Miami, next to the Everglades. You can buy, for basically pennies, a
fairly effective insecticide that will kill whitefly, butterflies,
mosquitoes - just really anything. You spray it around while trying not
to breath, and your yard is a plant paradise for a few weeks. After a
while all your lizards die off, and then the local stray cats die, etc.
But for a while you are mosquito free. I never do this because it seems
like a hugely bad idea to hang out in a place full of poison and a yard
without thousands of lizards and live things to look at seems super
boring, but to each their own. That means I have mosquitoes.
Now, our dear friends in the TED talk above (who work for the world's
biggest Patent Troll company) think that they are the only people who
could ever think up the idea of lasering mosquitoes, which is the
obvious fantasy to anyone who's ever sat in a dark yard getting bit. But
I think there's something hilarious when they start out saying they are
trying to help the world, especially the world that has intermittent
power, and then move to a system for killing mosquitoes that requires
quite a lot of power. How do we know this?
One year for Christmas every Immunity employee got a 1 Watt Blue Arctic
WickedLaser. You can't use it without special glasses or you'll
inadvertently blind yourself. So, laying around under a mosquitoe net, I
spent some time trying to kill mosquitoes with it. The bugs were at
best, mildly annoyed. In theory they should be blinded, but it didn't
seem to effect them in any particular way. I'm not sure what power
lasers they use in their demo to blow the wings off a mosquito, but
let's just say it has to be quite a bit greater than 1 W, and if it
shines anywhere near a human eyeball, you're going to be in lawsuit heaven.
Of course, there's a host of other issues with their "technology" they
could learn about if they spent some time in Florida. For example,
moquitoes rarely hang out on nice white backgrounds. They're covered in
camouflage and fly in a pattern designed to confuse visual (and I bet
sonar) sensors and when they land, it's on a dark or mottled background.
Also, it's unclear if killing mosquitoes, even a large quantity of them,
has any impact on their population size (in fact, their own data would
probably counter-indicate this, as they model mosquito population based
on breeding locations, not by predation).
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