Home with a Smell

You can’t miss it even from a distance

I seem to particularly like animals that have few friends. Some in fact, which I find fascinating, are despised by the general public. Perhaps I feel sorry for creatures whose only handicap is that they are not cuddly or cute – and this includes slugs; naked “slime balls” as they are called by some and “detested garden pests” by others. What all those slug haters are unaware of, I suppose, is that folk medicinally therapeutic uses of slugs and their slime include treatments for skin problems like acne and dermatitis, inflammation, calluses and warts and that the cosmetics industry of today also still has some applications for them. —>


Life, Electricity, Powerlines and Mobile Phones

Is there any risk?

At my last university I had a colleague who was very successful in obtaining research grants for projects related to possible adverse effects of mobile phones. Using rats, mice or hamsters he and his co-workers exposed the experimental rodents to stimuli that were hundreds of times stronger than what the ordinary human mobile phone users would be exposed to. And the result: as far as I remember, apart from some very minor effects no dramatic changes, no cancers, no untimely deaths, no fertility problems. —>

Chironex fleckeri

The deadly sea-wasp box jellyfish

A book I received one day from an anonymous benefactor contained a collection of true “horror stories”, namely the medical reports for the coroner of thoroughly documented human fatalities in Australia, caused by marine invertebrates. Now, while scorpions, funnel web and red back spiders are infamous enough and perhaps will feature on their own one day in this column, poisonous jellyfish, most notably the so-called sea-wasps and their fiendish deeds are far less known. Possibly the most potently venomous animals in the world are the Australian cubomedusan box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri and its smaller relative the Irukandji jellyfish Carukia barnesi. Measuring not even 1 cm across its bell and with tentacles less than a metre long, the Irukandji jellyfish may be small, but it can be a killer and its venom has been credited with a power 100 times more potent than that of a cobra. —>