Friday, February 26, 2010

Squeeze machines

Bari Weiss interviews Temple Grandin at the Wall Street Journal on Aspergers, autism and the cattle handling systems Grandin devises:
Ms. Grandin wondered what made the animals moo and balk. Kneeling down to see things from a cow's eye view, she took pictures from within the chutes.

She found cattle were highly sensitive to the same sensory stimulants that might set off a person with autism, but were inconsequential to the average handler. They were shockingly simple revelations: light and shadow would stress the animals, as would grated metal drains. Prodding and hollering from cowboys, intended to move cattle along, only alarmed them further.

Her designs reflected these insights. A curved, single-file chute mimicked the cattle's natural tendency to follow each other. She replaced slated walls with solid ones to prevent cattle from seeing the handlers and cut down on light and shadow.

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