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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Vandals for Ignorance and Disease

Ever wonder why you can't sleep if the room is too hot or two cold? Some people would rather you didn't know.
IOWA CITY, Iowa, November 16 -- Vandals dumped chemicals, damaged computers and freed research animals at the University of Iowa.
Ever wonder why winter feels harsher when it begins than it does after a few months? Some people would rather you remained ignorant.
The vandalism included laboratories where research animals were housed. An undetermined number of mice and rats were missing. More than 30 computers were damaged, university officials said.
Ever wonder why all mammals keep their body temperature between 97 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and humans at 98.6? Some people would rather we never learned the answer.
Researchers could not specify the extent of damages to the laboratory or how much research would be set back because they have not been allowed to enter the building since the incident, which was discovered Sunday morning. Some researchers said months or even years of research could be lost if computer hard drives sustained significant damage.
Perhaps you want to take a class in cognitive psychology? Some people would rather you didn't.
Because of uncertainty about the extent of the damage, including the deliberate dumping of chemicals, university police evacuated the building Sunday and don't expect to reopen it until after the Thanksgiving break.
One of the victims wonders just what kind of strange impulses motivated the "Animal Liberation Front."
"What they did to the animals was worse that what they could accuse us of doing," said Mark Blumberg, a cognitive and behavioral neuroscience professor who conducted animal research at Spence Laboratories. "There were animals that drowned because of this. It was horrible. How they think that they're doing something that is for the benefit of animal rights is beyond me."
Blumberg is the scientist whose research into sleep and temperature regulation I've been describing. I don't have the scientific background to appreciate his research, but his peers seem impressed, awarding him the "Distinguished Early Career Award." He's written a popular book too, "Body Heat: Temperature and Life on Earth." I've ordered a copy in solidarity, and because it sounds pretty interesting.


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