Monday, 4 January 2010

Now is the winter of our discontent

I have to say Mrs QO was entirely discontented with the alarm clock going off at 'you must be joking'-o'clock on this, the first day back at work. I myself was slightly inconvenienced, given my entire failure to observe any NY resolutions regarding alcohol, but I was nonetheless fortified by the opportunity looming.

Here's the thing. I work from home, while Mrs QO dutifully entrusts her dear person to our local bus company and labours elsewhere. I have been painfully conscious of my lack of progress on my study of the meaculpa oblongata. Now, some of this can reasonably be ascribed to the social and rather violent distractions of the festive period, but scientific progress cannot wait on such forever, and I had formulated an approach which required several hours' uninterrupted preparation.

Mrs QO having been so unreasonably difficult about lending me her meaculpa oblongata for study (I have to admit that it is likely to be in constant use during the January sales), I have come to the conclusion that I must adopt a stealthy, non-invasive method of exploring the organ in question.

It was but a moment's thought to settle on magnetic resonance imaging as the method of choice. I knew, of course, that the finest models employ superconducting magnets of around 1.5 Tesla, requiring several miles of wire immersed in liquid helium at a temperature of -270 Celsius or so. There's generally some other stuff like array processors capable of performing a two-dimensional Fourier transform in fractions of a second, antihelmholz-type gradient coils, RF and imaging coils and quadrature detectors. However, for my purposes, I was confident I could knock something together that would give me at least some kind of useful image.

I did consider enlisting expert help, and wondered which of the illuminati of the world of science and engineering I might approach. I thought about Professor Kathy Sykes and Dr Alice Roberts.

And so passed a most enjoyable hour.

However, I eventually and regretfully decided they would probably be busy and fell back on my own not inconsiderable resources. I had to hand a combination of useful parts from an old camera, a spare disk drive, Mrs QO's heated hair-rollers and a couple of flashguns, and several hours' work with soldering iron and 4-pound lump hammer saw my prototype device mounted in the ice-tray section of our deep freeze. This served two essential objectives. Firstly, it supplied the required cooling of the two dozen fridge magnets now hooked up to my device and, secondly, it formed part of my cunning plan.

You see, the technological challenge was one I was confident of cracking. However, how to capture the image itself, without Mrs QO's cooperation (of which I was in some doubt), was a greater hurdle by far. Fortunately, it had occurred to me that the very first thing she would do on her return from work was bend down and open the icebox door to acquire some ice for her 5.30 bourbon. Her head would thus be in the perfect position for the image I wanted to capture.

Brilliant, I think you'll agree. I placed the contents of the icebox (amounting to a large icetray, three boxes of variously-flavoured ice-creams and a pack of sausages) into the washing machine for temporary storage, and completed the wiring of my device to the 30-amp feed from the cooker. Thus prepared, I eagerly awaited her return...

To be continued


  1. Hmmmm. Hindsight dictates that you should have asked for a camera for Christmas. =)

    Glad you enjoyed the Dark Side of The Hundred Acre Wood and hope you always have a good time when visiting World of Weasels.

    I'll be back to see how the rest of your plan unraveled.

  2. I fear 'unraveled' is about right, but we are not without hope which, as we know, springs eternal.

    I should say I also enjoyed your take on motor maintenance. If you ever decide to bring the Weasels over here for a holiday, can I borrow them to get my car fixed?