Monday, November 1, 2010
Far too many writerly blogs have been talking about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this past week, so I'll relegate my thoughts on that topic to a footnote,1 and move onto something far more important:
Of course, "NanoRhino" is somewhat of a misnomer. As you can see from the picture at right, the rhino isn't that small. Although it's typically 1/20 the size of most Rhinoceros beetles, it can still be seen with the naked eye.2
So, why should you care? Well, the NanoRhino (Rhinoceros teenitinius) is nearly extinct. In fact, only six known NanoRhinos still exist. In an ironic twist Alanis Morissette would be proud of (if she knew the meaning of the word), the species has been nearly killed off by the very people who should be trying to study them: microbiologists.3
The problem is rather simple: NanoRhinos are wee little bastards. Unless isolated, they run rampant through all nearby nanobeings and either trample them, gore them, or eat them.4 Yet, if isolated, they lose their will to live, and begin to waste away. Maintaining this delicate balance is a conundrum that microbiologists have long decided to ignore, choosing instead to separate the NanoRhinos and let them perish. This way, the scientists can examine the microscopic creatures they're actually trying to observe without nature's diminutive bullies ruining everything.
Only one man, the exceptionally gifted Dr. Heinrich von Heinrichsen, is doing what needs to be done to keep these poor NanoRhino alive. He has four in his Brussels lab, but needs major funding to continue his research (and to get them to mate — NanoRhinos are notoriously selective).5 And that is why, during the month of November, I will be trying to raise $50,000 for the Heinrichsen institute in Brussels as part of InSaNaRhiMo (International Save NanoRhinos Month). Who will join me?
1 I'll be participating for the fourth time, but I don't play NaNoWriMo by NaNoWriMo's rules. Instead of attempting to write a new novel of 50,000 words during November, I'll just write as much as possible on my current novel without sacrificing quality. Then, I'll do the same for December. And January. And February. (I might skip March.)
2 The naked eye? How scandalous! (That is, according to microbiologists. They don't get out much. Also, most of their kind wear glasses. (By the way, if you are a microbiologist, please know I meant no offense with my preceding remarks. No offense at all. And can I say? You look very sexy in those glasses.))
3 Very sexy.
4 Possibly all three, depending on how insulting the other nanocreature was to the rhino's mother.
5 No, they don't judge based on the size of their partner's horn. Shame on you for thinking so. It's the ears.