How civilization will end

Phil Philmt59 at
Fri Feb 24 17:43:46 CST 2012

Dear Tacoistas

As my long-suffering friends already know, being a University academic isn't always what it's cracked up to be. However, it does occasionally give insights into society and culture that might otherwise have passed unnoticed. Today, for example, I discovered the ultimate fate of civilization.

A final-year chemistry undergraduate came to me with a problem. How best to seal an aqueous gel electrolyte between two electrodes so as to prevent it from drying out? He'd tried tape but, poor lad, he has fingers like sausages and the final packaging was insufficient. He was stumped.

I suggested first that he try a thin fillet of superglue around the periphery. He dutifully wrote this idea down in his lab notebook. Then I said, better still, use a quick-setting epoxy resin. He asked me how to spell "epoxy", then asked, "Does this stuff go by any other name?"

Yes, I replied surprised, it's called Araldite, but you need 'Araldite Rapid'. He asked me if I would spell "Araldite". Had he never used epoxy glues before? No. Did he know what superglue is? "Yes", came the reply, "but I've never actually used it." Had he ever used glue? "Of course" he replied, "but probably not since I left junior school."

My son is a sophomore undergraduate, reading philosophy and political science. His interests are Descartes and Hegel, but I'd be ashamed of both of us if he couldn't choose the right glue to carry out an emergency repair.

So, there you have it. In one more generation, civilization will not just collapse, but literally fall to pieces.

[Incidentally, another student knew all about superglue and Araldite, but pointed out that they were both 'dangerous' because superglue will glue your skin together permanently, and epoxy resins are carcinogenic. I guess the manufacturers of "No More Nails" made entirely the wrong decision.]

Phil M1GWZ

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