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#1003: The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Original Air Date: 01.16.2010

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This week on Car Talk, a creative birthday present spawns an auto-infestation crisis for Beatrice in Pennsylvania. The pregnant cockroach she got for dad got loose in the family BMW, and when it emerged, it may have left behind a few hundred cockroach juniors. Can the car be returned to its pre-bug state? Find out. Also, on Stump the Chumps, Tom and Ray find out if they correctly diagnosed the noise coming from Malcolm's steering wheel, and get a jaw-dropping reply; a VW tries to escape from its owner when it's parked; and has Tommy's dream job finally opened up? All this, plus a new puzzler from the Automotive History series, and lots more, this week, on Car Talk.

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This Week's Puzzler

A puzzler from the world of automotive history, concerning a bet with Cousin Vinny about two vintage cars. Could their years be told apart? Find out!

Last Week's Puzzler

Tommy has harvested 100 pounds of tomatoes, and he and the tomatoes weigh 248 pounds. After a week in the sun drying out, what would the scale read? Find out!

Show Open Topic

The obituary of Prince Georgio of Seborga.

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    Bad advice about cockroaches

    by Anonymous

    Gentlemen, I wish to take strong exception to some advice you gave on this morning’s Car Talk program. The caller had lost a Madagascar hissing cockroach in her mother’s car and asked for a way to get rid of it. Your solution was to place a large block of dry ice in the car over night and freeze it to death. Bad idea! Now I know that you two have engineering degrees from the Caltech of the East (M.I.T.), but please listen to one who has a degree in Biology from the real Caltech. Many years ago I used CO2 to anesthetize Cecropia pupae for surgery and found that animals recovered from it very nicely. Moreover Drosophila geneticists have used it for years for the same purpose. The CO2 released in the car would very likely anesthetize the roaches, but it’s unlikely that even at -78.5º Celsius, anything less than enough dry ice to literally fill the interior of the car would cause freeze damage to them. Worse yet, a car full of CO2 can be dangerous to your caller – a young teenager judging from the fact that she is not yet old enough for a driver’s license. The tendency of the gas to pool in low places could preserve a significant amount even if the windows are opened, and CO2 intoxication can be insidious in onset and go unnoticed until judgment and coordination are already impaired. Better by far would be to trap the roach(es) and retain it as a pet. Easily constructed traps are described on several websites, such as the two below. http://www.k12.hi.us/~rkubota/digiphoto/cockroach/roach.html http://rj55.com/blog/cockroach.html For the record I delight in Car Talk and listen to it whenever I can on KQAC in Portland, Oregon. And some day I shall manage to get through to ask you about a problem I have with my 1990 Toyota 4Runner…. Sincerely, Martin Mendelson, Ph.D. 503.641.5290 mendelso@alumni.caltech.edu

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