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Life's little answers are elusive - Bob Paslay

I remember as a kid that you could go into a shoe store and have fun sticking your feet in an X-ray machine to laugh with friends and look at the bones in your feet. One friend got addicted to it and did it a lot. Now the X-ray technicians wear protective gear because we have learned that there is nothing funny about the power of X-rays.

I flashed back to this because some of us were in the break room waiting to use the microwave when it occurred to me, what if we find out 30 or 40 years from now that microwaves make your liver fall out.

I'm sure they test these things and we will be OK but I am not far off if you look at history in which we find out the answer to a problem and it turns out to be a simple answer.

No one and I mean no one thought years ago that a tiny mosquito could fell thousands of people by carrying a virus like malaria. Now having gained that knowledge, having started a program of eradication, we knocked down malaria. Along comes West Nile virus and we immediately start looking at mosquitoes.

A friend of mine had a theory that mosquitoes were spreading AIDS. We thought about it, talked about it and wondered why everyone hadn't come to this conclusion. It made sense. A blood disease, hmm, and an insect that sucks blood from you when it bites you. But of course the experts had looked at that idea and couldn't find any connection.

Life would be so simple if the whole pattern of things were explained to us, rather than us having to discover it one thing at a time.

Who would have thought anyone wouldn't have known you have to wash your hands and wear sterile gloves before performing operations? But it was one of those little n or should I say big n secrets that had to be discovered.

I am not one of those people to defend the tobacco industry and figure they got what they deserved. But what dummy didn't know that smoking was not good for you? I have never smoked but if you try one for the first time you cough, your clothes smell and you have a shortness of breath if you do it too long. What did anyone think was going on inside their bodies ? certainly not healthy things.

The Elizabethans believed that bathing was not good for you. That is one reason Elizabeth I kept caking on layers of makeup and rouge and never jumped into a soothing hot bath and scrubbed up.

Things just don't seem logical sometimes and therefore you don't think about it. It's like poison ivy. The oil can get on your clothes and months later you can break out if you put on the same clothes. You would never think that.

Some things sound illogical, but they turn out to be true. Take radio and television for example. You look at the air around your house and you don't see anything. But if you go inside the house and turn on that little box, magically it picks up sounds and pictures shot through the air from hundreds of miles away.

The recent space shuttle disaster and now experts are coming to conclude that, duh, foam careening across the surface of it can damage those tiles that keep the heat out of the craft and cause it to burn up.

I applaud those whose life work is to be detectives for these things we don't know. Somewhere while you are wasting your time reading this silly little column of observations, someone is spending their time trying to find the key, that answer or answers, that will cure the major diseases or make our lives easier. There is an answer to everything, a pattern so intricately woven together. But one by one we have to discover them. I know how fulfilling it must be for a researcher to discover this answer, but how dedicated they are to keep hunting year after year for that elusive answer. I don't have that patience, but I salute those who do. In the meantime, I will just blindly keep using my microwave and hope there isn't any little surprise waiting for me in 30 years. See, I've grown accustomed to having a liver.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or by email at bpaslay@news-daily.com.