In Wired, we learn of the Big Mother Shucker—a compression tank that simultaneously kills and shucks lobsters by subjecting them to 40,000 pounds per square inch of water pressure. The lobster dies a quick death, and the humans benefit from not having to spend so damn long fighting with exoskeleton for itsy-bitsy pieces of meat.
But, say you don't have any way of producing pressures greater than those found in the Mariana Trench. What, then, is the best and most humane way of dispatching one of these delicious crustaceans?
According to Jennifer Basil, associate professor of Biology at City University of New York, Brooklyn College, it's boiling. That's because lobsters, like most invertebrates, don't have the same kind of brain we do. Instead of having one, big central mass of neurons—i.e., the brain—lobsters spread their thinking around their bodies in several smaller masses, called ganglia.
"Every segment has its own little brain doing its own thing," says Basil. Which is why, she says, it's better to boil the lobster and kill all those mini-brains at once. "Cutting it up just creates two uncomfortable lobsters."
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.