I heard of a new industry during this morning’s news that I think would suit Reading perfectly. The town can supply cockroaches for earthquake rescue teams. Yes, that’s correct. They are now testing the feasibility of using high tech-equipped roaches to search rubble in order to find people buried beneath it. And, since Reading is brimming with roaches, it is the ideal location to set up a facility to fill this demand.
There’s an electrical engineer the North Carolina State University who is experimenting with this idea. He attaches a mini backpack with fancy electrical gizmos that will direct the roaches in their search. Basically he uses antennae and butt stimulators to send them scurrying in the direction desired.
Purportedly, the individuals buried will “shout for joy” when they see one of these natural robotic critters crawling towards them which will then, through the transmitters they carry, allow the first responders to locate the victims.
Okay, in theory I admit this is interesting. Hopefully, it will save lives. However, I have some concerns. If I’m trapped and immobile, I seriously doubt I’d notice the teeny, weeny electrodes and only see the huge bugs, coming to be creepy-crawly on me while I can do nothing to prevent them. The end result is screaming so I suppose that’s not a true problem.
Another is how invasive roaches are. If they intend to utilize the varieties prevalent in Reading and introduce them to areas without the same species, won’t that eventually do damage to the environment? The average lifespan of a cockroach is a year. Try as they might, I suspect some will evade recapture once their mission is complete.
The third concern involves airline regulations and various import/customs laws around the world. I’m not entirely positive but I’m sure some of them would frown upon the importing of huge roaches, no matter how good the cause or controlled they are.
In case you’re wondering, there is no need to fret over the amount of electric current used to zap the bugs into doing the rescuers’ bidding. Roaches have no concept of pain. While they do have sensors that direct their reflexes they do not have pain receptors. Or so the folks attempting this say.
So, if cockroaches are to be the new age equivalent of the domesticated horses, oxen and other beasts of burden that were the boon to the development of ancient civilizations, I am all for Reading getting in on the bottom floor. What other way to boost our city’s failed economy than by tapping into one of its natural resources?