• Question: If sometime in the future, there was a way that would allow you to know EVERYTHING about ANYTHING, what would you pick! E.g. Biology, Physics, Zoology e.t.c. Oh and you can't pick the subject you're already studying.

    Asked by ryanpendlebury1 to Freya, , Katy, Louise, Pamela on 19 Mar 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Louise Pendry

      Louise Pendry answered on 19 Mar 2010:

      Hey – Ryan – you are on the ball with questions today aren’t you?

      I would know everything there is to know about toxicology. Toxicology is the study of poisons. If I knew everything there was to know about poisons then nobody would ever have to test on animals again to test drugs or chemicals or cosmetics as everyone would know what products had harmful effects and to whom – they could just come and ask me!

      If I could have a second choice – pleasssssssse 🙂 ….
      it would be entomology.

      Entomology is the study of insects. I had this really fun lecturer at uni who spent all his time studying sperm wars in beetles!!!! The male beetles have spikes on their penises which damage the female’s reproductive tract when they have sex – ouch 🙁
      They do this to stop the female sleeping around after she’s been mated – the male beetle wants to make sure any children she has are his. But, if that isn’t enough, beetle sperm is toxic in large quantities so if she mates with more beetles she doesn’t live as long.

      Lots of male insects (and other animals) have nifty tricks up their sleeve to make sure that the girl uses his sperm. The girls want the best sperm that they can find – good sperm helps produce healthy children – so it’s often in their interests to put it about a bit (some animals can even eject dodgy sperm from their reproductive tract if they find a better man to mate with!). So….

      The men have to get clever. The whole point of evolution is that you get as many of your genes into the next generation as you can – ask Freya – she can explain this better as its been ageeeees since I studied this – so the males evolve (gradually through generations) sex weapons that allow them to a) beat the other men and b) ‘convince’ the girl to have sex and keep his sperm.

      This is totally amazing…. Different species use different tactics. Some squirt loads of fluid into the female to wash out the previous male’s sperm, some use a kind of insect ‘cement’ to seal up the female’s reproductive tract so that no other male can mate her, ….
      We had a whole lecture on insect penises and why they have different shapes and it was brilliant. Will never forget it!

      What would you pick Ryan?

    • Photo: Freya Harrison

      Freya Harrison answered on 20 Mar 2010:

      This is a great question! Having just answered the “which scientist would you swap jobs with” question and said that I admire people who can make things, I think I would choose to know a skilled trade like blacksmithing or carpentry. I’d like to be able to think of an object I want and then have the ability to make it. I think it’s interesting because you have to have the maths & design skills to be able to get a working design in your head and then the physical ability to work with the material to get it to do what you want. (The last set of shelves I made had *some* right angles in it, but clearly I’ve got a long way to go!)

    • Photo: Katy Milne

      Katy Milne answered on 20 Mar 2010:

      If it is ANYTHING, I would like to be able to speak all the languages in the world. I lived abroad for a while and I really didn’t get to know the culture there until I could understand them. Even then, I think I missed out a bit because I couldn’t understand all of their slang. Languages are brilliant. I love reading in Spanish. Everything seems hotter and more mystical and romantic. Otherwise a bit more fashion sense would be great!

      If it is science specifically, then I would like to be amazing at Maths. Maths is the language of science and if you are really good at it then it helps your job a lot. I just about get by at the moment but I really have to think about it.

    • Photo: Pamela Docherty

      Pamela Docherty answered on 22 Mar 2010:

      Does it have to be a science? I would like to pick the subject I’m already studying because I don’t know enough about it, haha! Otherwise I’d really like to be able to speak all languages fluently. I used to speak French and German very well but they take so much practising – after 6 years of not speaking them regularly I feel like I’ve forgotten everything!