The Amateur Mad Scientist (Part 1)


Oh hi. Didn’t see you there.

Sorry, I haven’t done this for a while. The ol’ sense of humor is kinda rusty. But, it seems that I’m back, and even geekier than ever.

The amateurish picture you see above is of two pillbugs (probably Oniscus spp. Edit: Probably Armadillidum nasatum), the coolest terrestrial crustaceans in existence. Their main functions in the forest ecosystem are consuming detritus and excreting soil (poop). Also, entertaining lonely twenty-somethings on Friday nights. They’re incredibly cute, completely harmless, easy to keep as pets, and if you don’t mind waiting a while, they make great compost. Ha! who needs cats?

But as well as being a nerd, I’m also a man. A manly man. With at least seventeen confirmed chest hairs. So, I like my coffee hot, my whiskey lukewarm, my women buxom (or plain, I’m not picky), and my bugs HUGE. And since the gigantic (we’re talking the size of my nose, and my nose is big. GRRRR!) pill millipede (see below) is native to the tropics and doesn’t do well in captivity, I thought “I’m a nerd. I’ve got spare time. Why not make my own?”

Glomeris marginata

So begins my new series “The Amateur Mad Scientist.” Experiment 1: the evolution through artificial selection of gigantic f**cking pillbugs! I started out with five of the largest Oniscus Armadillidum adults I could pull out of my dad’s compost heap (I’m almost afraid to look in my compost heap after the maggot episode of a few months ago…). Five is a nice number, and easy to keep track of, and most importantly, gives me roughly a 96.8% chance of having at least one male and one female. When they reproduce and the hatchlings grow to full size, I’ll pick the biggest ones and leave them in the experimental colony (the losers I’ll transfer to my aquarium-sized pillbug-millipede colony, after calling them sissies and stealing their lunch money, of course). I’m honestly not entirely sure how long a pillbug generation is, but I imagine (meaning: I hope) I’ll see the effects before too long. Watch this space!

Other Business: I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting stuff. I’ve got a couple of NetLogo simulations worth talking about, and some other things. So yeah. Watch this space.

EDIT: So two of the pillbugs died and I got to thinking “How would I feel if someone put me in a Tupperware container and tried to breed me into a race of giants?” And I decided that I would, in response, crawl out of the container while my captor was asleep, shit in his eye, and crawl into his ear and eat his brain. The surviving pillbugs are now back in the wild, no doubt talking all kinds of shit about me, none of which, I assure you, is true.