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Habitat under threat

(published 27 February 2011)

A quiet couple of visits to the lab in recent weeks. The first spent droring, as Mr White might say; luxurious hours of concentration in the laboratory following leads and optic cables around the bench and through slivers of silicon, pencil lines describing the experimental set up; incident light, reflected light, invisible light from boxed sources.

Then this week, a day spent in the library: reading, thinking, listening to the quiet hum of productivity, and on another floor, among vending machines and current journals, the raucous chatter of excited communications. As I bathe in the gentle murmurings of this cosseting haven I am internally, viscerally, bemoaning the possible loss of this environment as a result of the increasing electronification of the world. It isn’t only ancient habitats that are lost with the incessant spread of humanity; we also wipe out our own, more recent, heritage as we go.

Having been fed on a diet of ejournals in a previous incarnation I decide to try to ‘take out’ my first ebook, but cannot get the system to work – I’m not sorry to be delaying that experience until another occasion. Instead I return to the clean room for some time spent in intimately deep visual communication with the sputter machine. Because of the particulate debris they produce I am not allowed to bring my pencil and paper in here, so must use the smooth blue sheets provided on the inside of the airlock doors, and a biro. Not normally my favourite drawing implement, but it seems to work ok, and I (dressed in a pale blue clean suit (deliberately matching my sheaf of paper?), overshoes, cap and purple rubber gloves) immerse into another world until I am asked to move my chair for the man to vacuum beneath it, using the amazing technicolor Dyson.

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