Fantastic Voyage II: The Gaseous Network

So, part of my day job concerns Internet service for students living on campus at the local university here, two years ago we began a 2-year project to implement Wi-Fi in all of the residence halls, it’s been a bumpy ride, with the wireless networking having to tackle numerous complexities, from aging network equipment to buildings loaded with concrete and rebar, through which Wi-Fi doesn’t like to travel.

Still, despite the many challenges, at least I didn’t have to deal with cow farts and belches.

Seriously.

Via Gizmodo:

Wireless Networks of Cows Will Keep Gas Under Control

I’d hate to be the IT guy fixing this network. By dropping electronic devices into the stomachs of cows and networking them together, researchers hope to reduce the climate-warming farts and burps they produce.

Emissions from livestock – much of which is methane released when they burp – are a serious component of global greenhouse gas emissions. But some individuals are a little more, erm, ‘gassy’ than others. By breeding “low methane” animals, and modifying farming practices slightly, their emissions could be lowered by up to 50 per cent, says Chris McSweeny from the CSIRO’s Sustainable Agriculture Flagship in Brisbane, Australia.

But, as fabulous, albeit disgusting, as this might be, the part of the story that makes it super fantastical, as in Fantastic Voyage (the 1966 Sci-Fi film) fantastical, is this bit (emphasis in bold added by me):

The problem is it’s hard to measure how much cows burp while they’re roaming around the paddock. So McSweeny and colleagues developed a gas-sniffing submarine that lives in a cow’s stomach. Coated with a special membrane that helps it survive the harsh conditions inside, the plan is to pop them in the stomachs of whole paddocks of cows and connect them with an ad-hoc wireless network.

The device stays in the stomach for weeks and measures gas concentration using infra-red sensors. A pair of wings pops out after it enters the stomach and stops it from moving beyond the rumen – the chamber in a cow or sheep’s stomach where much of the gas production occurs.

No way!!!

Yes way!!!

Now, as gross as this might sound, I might just be willing to do it if 1966 Raquel Welch was on the crew with me.

6 thoughts on “Fantastic Voyage II: The Gaseous Network

  1. Fun post! I read somewhere that they are trying to find a way to harness all that methane for use as a possible power supply. Hard to believe, but if they can do it, what a great way to turn a problem into a valuable natural resource.

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