P&J Column 21.12.17

Not exactly the Christmas skite we were hoping for.

Hector Schlenk, Senior Researcher at the Bogton Insitute for Public Engagement with Science

This past week, I have been attempting to resolve the greatest scientific challenge of our day; how to get safely down my driveway and round to the post-office without sliding away on the ice in a straight line and at a constant speed. It may be a satisfying demonstration of Newton’s first law, but it won’t get your Christmas Cards sent.

In common with many others, I have found my local roads and pavements somewhat treacherous, but I’m not one to lambast the local authorities who I recognise have a very difficult job to do in ensuring the paths and streets are cleared and sanded. In fact, I’m particularly impressed as this winter they appear to have deployed the very latest in gritting technology; machines able to move through the streets so quickly and silently that no one has yet managed to see one at work. This led me to ponder the concept of Schrödinger’s Gritter – simultaneously both working tirelessly to make our roadways safe, and sitting unused at the depot at Kittybrewster – and it was whilst contemplating this quantum paradox that I slipped on black ice, badly bruising my Gluteus Maximus.

And so, I have set to work on a range of specialised footwear, and I’m particularly satisfied with my invention of ‘Self–salting Galoshes’, which distribute a pre-determined quantity of Sodium Chloride in front of the wearer as they perambulate. The prototype is, admittedly, two bottles of Saxo superglued to a pair of Dr Martens, but the principle is sound.
For those who prefer a non-chemical approach, I also have designed some ‘Hot Clogs’ which melt the snow and ice as you go. The prototype is cumbersome and would be more aesthetically pleasing if the two immersion heaters I’ve strapped to each foot were the same colour, and indeed height. Additionally, I feel their commercial viability might be enhanced were I able to create a wireless version. But still, early days.

In fact, the whole situation with the roads and pavements can be so treacherous that its probably best to avoid the ground altogether, and so I have been beavering away to perfect the ultimate solution – ‘Rocket Boots!’ Imagine being able to avoid all slippery hazards by simply hovering in midair, melting any underfoot ice or snow as you float along (as well as any road markings, and possibly the tar itself). Unfortunately you’ll have to keep imaging for the moment as I have yet to perfect the thrust to weight ratio. The secret lies in ensuring that the amount of propulsion is sufficient to enable hovering and forward movement, but not so great that the user simply blasts 200 feet straight up in the air and gets tangled up in the town’s Christmas tree; prompting the local children to ask why, instead of wings and a wand, this year’s fairy has a lab coat and a strong smell of petrol.

Tanya Soutar – local lifestyle guru

I was jist shocked to see that a heap of jobs is under threat at Toys R Us, and there’s going to be store closures nationwide.  I jist hope the Aiberdeen braches is nae affected.  Thanks tae it’s massive range, it’s a godsend for a harassed mum fa’s wee darling his their heart set on something they’ve seen advertised on the telly. As my pal, Big Sonia, says, ‘if that place shuts, far aboots am I going to be able to shoplift my Kieran’s Power Rangers fae?’  These big companies, they never think about the knock-on effects for the local communities, div they?

Mind you, I do feel a bittie sorry for these High Street companies, hiving to pay rent and rates and getting undercut by the big online multinationals fa base themselves in remote locations to avoid peying tax.  Never mind Amazon – apparently there’s one outfit that’s registered in a tax haven at the North Pole, maks toys using labour that disnae even get peyed minimum wage and will deliver stuff onywye in the world for free if you jist shove a letter up yer lum.  Talk aboot an abuse o’ a dominant commercial position – I dinna see how ony toy shop in the world can compete wi that!  Hang yet heid in shame, Sunty Claus!