Friday 9 June 2017

Anything goes

I've given tribs to Gavin and Dan the SloMo Guys, who have a super-high-speed camera which can capture the detail of fast changing events and crank them down in speed so that we can really see what's happening. It's interesting to note, therefore, that their latest video is about as exciting as watching a bath fill up. The story is interesting nevertheless: Dan is laid out on a trampoline, an empty monster balloon is placed upon þe coddes and gradually filled with water.

Trampolines are dangerous things to have about the place:

  • My niece sustained a horrible compound fracture to her arm 13 years ago by compounding the bounce a trampoline and a space-hopper [pic], taking flight and landing badly.
  • My boss's neighbour's boy otoh leapt off the roof of a garden shed onto a trampoline, flew briefly, and broke his neck landing in a heap
  • Our trampoline took off in a storm and flew 40m up-hill and broke its back against a pine tree. I was glad to see it gone

The danger for SloMo Dan is that, as the balloon fills with 400kg of water, the weight pushes his knees in the wrong direction because the trampoline provides only elastic support.  It is part of the design that human hips bend in the other direction, so Dan's are okay under the weight. As the pain in his counter-flexed knees builds he reflects that it might have been better to carry out the experiment directly on the lawn. The slomo part, when the balloon is burst with a screwdriver, is almost an anti-climax.  All good fun.

Less good fun was a crushing accident sustained by singer song-writer Cole Porter in October 1937 when his horse fell and rolled over his legs crushing them both in a bloody mess. Porter was at the top of his game and his maternal grandfather was 'the richest man in Indiana', so he could afford the best medical treatment then available but spent the rest of his life in pain and undergoing a series of surgical interventions because osteomyelitis set in. That is an infection of the fabric of the bone, often prosecuted by Staphylococcus aureus - the SA in MRSA. Even today, bone infections are the very divil to cure because the density of the fabric of bone hinders perfusion by the antibiotics. 1937 was pre-penicillin, although sulphanilamide and other Sulpha drugs were available. Eventually, in 1958, the doctors amputated Porter's right leg at mid-thigh in a desperate attempt to control the infection. "Miraculously, through physical anguish, drastic surgical procedures, and the grip of addiction, he could still trip the light fantastic in his mind and reliably inspire the rest of us to do so as well. Such stories remind patients and doctors alike that regardless of the outcome, the human spirit remains the most formidable foe of illness." (Howard Merkel)  Porter died in 1964 at the age of 71 vacillating between terrible pain and a haze of alcohol and analgesics. A case has been made that 'I've got you under my skin' is all about heroin addiction.

But enough, already. Today is Cole Porter's birthday 9th June 1891 and I'm sure you'll want to sing along with some classics as you use both legs to go to work:
Chapeau bas!

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