Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Life imitates art

Many people will know of Terry Pratchett, a man regarded as a minor deity by many readers of the Fantasy Genre for his Discworld series of books.

One of the characters who makes appearances in several of the books is Detritus the Troll, an upstanding member of the Ankh Morpork city watch. Trolls are made of stone and not generally noted for their quickness of wit... This isnt because Trolls are intrinsically stupid, rather, it's down to the speed of thought in a silicon based life form - which decreases as temperature increases. Thus a warm troll will be reeeaalllyyy stooopid. In Men at Arms, Detritus wears a clockwork hat which uses fans to cool his head down, thus keeping him relatively intelligent.

Given that Terry Pratchett himself is reported as having been diagnosed with an early onset form of Alzheimer's disease, it was breathtakingly ironic to read on the BBC website recently that an infra-red hat (known as a cognitive helmet) has been developed which may slow, if not reverse, some of the symptoms of that unpleasant affliction (which TP refers to with characteristic aplomb as an 'embuggarance'). The picture shows a hat with fans on it... One assumes that Mr Pratchett is aware of this odd example of life imitating art.

I personally have an awful memory. I cant afford a cognitive helmet, but you may, on occasion, see me with a pair of mini-maglights - one stuck up each nostril, in a desperate attempt to re-grow some brain cells.

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