Monday, 24 January 2022

Dead man walking - update. A bit of science. And thinking about security.

Further to the odd story I wrote about yesterday, the story of the two Irishmen who took a dead man to the post office to try to withdraw his pension, it is with some relief that I read today that the Gardai do not suspect foul play. Postmortem examination suggests that the pensioner died of natural causes just hours before the incident. So the two men trying to get the money were not necessarily evil, just very stupid! And perhaps optimistic! And in the end, not very lucky!

Today’s report also tells me this:

“A local priest was called to the scene by gardaĆ­ to give the man his last rites.

“It really is shocking. People in the town are clearly shocked, but he did get prayers and he was anointed,” Father John Dunphy told Irish media.

“The shop was closed, and I didn’t know the man, but the staff were upset, naturally. He was anointed; he got the last rites, of course, and we all gathered around him and prayed. It was very dignified.

“The gardaĆ­ were very kind and the staff were brave. It was a peaceful moment, very, very dignified.””

So that’s all right then - like a scene from a gently comic-sad film, probably made in black and white about 70 years ago!

I’ve also written recently about micro-plastics. Today I read that nano-plastic pollution has been found in the ice at both the North and the South Poles. It’s a long time since I studied science and back then nobody told us about micro-plastics and nano-plastics. I wondered what, if any, was the difference between micro- and nano-plastics, and this is what I found: “a solitary microplastic particle will break down into billions of nanoplastic particles suggesting that nanoplastic pollution will be prevalent across the globe.  It is probable that nanoplastics are more damaging than microplastics as they are small enough to permeate through biological membranes. Despite of this, the potential human health effects of nanoplastic exposure remains under-studied.” 

So it seems to be a matter of size. The problem, however, remains that they’re everywhere, little tiny bits of plastic that we can’t see. They’re floating in the air and in the water. Recent research suggested people may be breathing 2,000 - 7,0 micro-plastics per day in their homes. Prof Anoop Jivan Chauhan, a respiratory specialist at Portsmouth hospitals university NHS trust, said: “This data is really quite shocking. Potentially we each inhale or swallow up to 1.8m microplastics every year and once in the body, it’s hard to imagine they’re not doing irreversible damage.” And the nano-plastics, being even smaller, are more easily absorbed into the body and are more toxic. 

I never learnt about all this is science at school and yet it’s all been around for longer than we think. Ice-core examined in Greenland reveal micro-plastics in ice that probably fell as snow in the 1960s. 

It’s too late! We should never have developed polyester and other synthetic fabrics; we should never have used Tupperware; and as for clingfilm … well, what can we say? 

Yesterday the family (our daughter and various offspring of hers) came for dinner, as often happens on a Sunday. One was missing, the 18 year old who had taken herself off to Chester for the weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday and was not due back until later on Sunday evening. My daughter and I had exchanged messages during Saturday evening about whether or not she was keeping in touch to let us know she was safely back in her b&b at the end of her Saturday night out. Late I reflected that when I was her age I was living independently as a student at university, writing letters home to my parents once a week, if they were lucky, or more likely once a fortnight. We had no mobile phones. Indeed, my parents didn’t even have a landline. They just had to accept that I was getting on with things sensibly! As for me, I worked on the principle that what they didn’t know couldn’t hurt them. Not that I was really up to much. And maybe the world was a safer place.

At least there were probably fewer nano-plastics around.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone. 

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