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The Science of the Lambs

Geophysics sheep
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Magentometric geophysics is a useful tool for surveying; it's mostly used for archaeology but there are other applications.

It's usually done by humans walking backwards and forwards along planned tracks to build up a grid of readings.

Using vehicles is difficult, because the magnetic field of the vehicle can swamp the weak field variations that the magnetometry is searching for; and the terrain may not be easy to traverse.

The solution is obvious; use sheep. Sheep are agile, easily available, and inexpensive. They are rugged and operate in all weathers.

The plan would be to equip a flock of sheep with harnesses carrying magnetometric instruments, the necessary electronics, and a package containing a data logger, a gps receiver, and a power source. It would be simple to put a solar panel on the top too. Then just turn the sheep loose in the area to be surveyed. They will wander around in semi-random ways, grazing whatever's edible, and as they move they will carry out the survey. Many points will be sampled multiple times, and there will be gaps, but over time the average will be that the whole site will be sampled to an acceptable density.

Every day, data from the backpacks can be uploaded by radio without approaching the sheep, and the results collated. Should specific areas require more intensive scanning, electric fences can be deployed to contain the sheep to a smaller area, or for high precision one or more sheepdogs can contain the herd in a very small area.

When the survey is complete, the sheep can just be moved on to the next site. In addition there will be an annual supply of wool, and should any individual fall below the expected productivity level, roast mutton will be a menu item.

Title revised subsequent to [hippo]'s annotation.

8th of 7, Jun 23 2019

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       //Magentometric geophysics//   

       "Well, we've got a band of reddish-purple running parallel to the first trench, and a sort of mauvier red square that looks like it could have been a building at one time."
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2019
  

       Sheep and ye shall find. I've wanted to find a good use for that statement for years. [+]
xenzag, Jun 23 2019
  

       Let's not start with sheep-puns. They'll be no ewes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2019
  

       For sites near populated areas, special non-bleating sheep will be selectively bred, and their training will start as soon as they are mature enough. They will be well treated, so even animal rights enthusiasts need not be concerned about The Silence Of The Lambs ...
8th of 7, Jun 23 2019
  

       Won't bother Sturton. He's Mutt'n'Jeff.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2019
  

       Sheep-based magentometric geophysics might best be described as The Science Of The Lambs
hippo, Jun 24 2019
  

       ^<Cymbal sting/>   

       Idea title revised to recognise quality wit.
8th of 7, Jun 24 2019
  

       This is a nice idea but instead of GPS loggers and radio transmitters I would equip each sheep with a light bulb.   

       The output of the magnetometer sensor would feed into the lightbulb, probably an RGB LED, and change its colour to match the reading. Then, to do your survey, you simply take a long exposure photograph of the area and the resulting image is a colourmap of the field strength.
mitxela, Jun 24 2019
  

       There's another version of this product which uses geophysical sensors to survey ground geology to determine where oil deposits might be found. The team creating this found that sheep were too slow and didn't cover a large enough area and so an airborne sensor approach was devised and the product name changed from "The Science of the Lambs" to "A Flock Of Seagulls". Inevitably, when it was discovered that the best geological conditions for the product existed in Iran but also that this place was too far away for the technical support team to be able to offer high-quality on-site support, the marketing manager was heard to exclaim "Iran (So Far Away)!"
hippo, Jun 24 2019
  

       Groans.... loudly.
xenzag, Jun 24 2019
  
      
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