Science links obesity to fat, lazy microbes

(Today, I’m posting from the Long Awkward Pause science desk, which I believe gets its name from the fact that it’s also our lunch table — where there are globs of unidentified organisms…)

image Scientists at Cornell University have created a device capable of measuring the weight of a single cell. This is big news because it moves us beyond the limits of sub-gram measurements “nano,” “pico” and “femto,” and into an exciting new realm of measurements known as “zeppo,” “harpo” and “groucho.” This could eventually lead to the smallest and least-known unit of measure, “chico.”

Many of you are probably wondering how useful this information really is when it seems most things — cars, houses, Americans in general — are actually getting bigger. Personally, I see no benefit in being able to describe my weight as “a little over 70 trillion harpo-grams.”

Nor do I want to be around when my wife discovers, after eating that extra helping of potato salad this July Fourth, that she not only gained back the 17 trillion zeppo-grams she’d lost, but also put on an extra two billion grouchos. It doesn’t matter that all of this adds up to less than a single uncooked lima bean. What matters is that I make the potato salad, and will therefore be held responsible. (More at LAP)