Radioimmunoassay and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry show that 5a-androst-16-en-3a-01 is strongly present. This was not known before.

And I say thank God. For although the language of technology is not my language, still I yield to nobody in my admiration of it when it is used for worthy purposes such as the increase of understanding.

The 5a-etc. stuff is a steroid strongly present in truffles, those fragrant little fungi that used to be present in hors d'oeuvres and pa te's before the ladies of Washington learned to cheat and substitute black olives.

This same steroid is manufactured in the testes of boars. Truffles have stronger concentrations than the boars do. This steroid is a sex pheromone. Boars secrete it in dilute form in their saliva, and presumably female pigs find it exquisite.

Pigs have been known to detect truffles buried as deeply as three feet in the earth. That is quite a nose they have. But then it is quite a super-stud they hope to find.

Science is marvelous, surely, and so is Science, the magazine in which I discovered these wonderful facts in the current issue. There we learn that the 5a-stuff is also secreted by human males in sweat. Whether female ladies find it exquisite I do not know, but do not think so.

This would explain why lady humans cannot dig for truffles as well as female pigs. Perhaps they can? But are too lazy? Too spoiled by indulgent husbands?

But that is science for you. Always the beautiful answer that (as Cummings says in one of his dandy verses) asks the more beautiful question.

My head was full of joy from the 5a news of Science when I tuned in Channel 26 to see an old movie, "Becket," with Richard Burton.

Knowing that this channel would be busy for some time with its merry little merchants squawking--it would be interesting to know where some of those hucksters who solicit contributions for the station ever got their voices--I had not tuned in for some days, of course, but I thought surely they would be finished with their tatty yaps by the time the movie came on.

They were not. I do think they should be required by the Federal Communications Commission to announce accurate program schedules, so that if you tune in at 9 p.m. to see the show they list for that hour, you actually see it, and do not discover (as you now do) they are running an hour behind schedule as the result of their solicitations. There also ought to be (while we're about it) minimal standards set for carnival barkers on television; they might at least be amusing or, at least, less shrill.

Their lean and flashy songs grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw, as Milton said, having been vouchsafed a vision of Channel 26 in his time.

But of course there is nothing wrong with any of that. They have their audience, a curiously supine one, evidently, that gloomphs contentedly at the set no matter what drivel is pitched at them, and since I saw there was no point waiting for "Becket" to proceed I reached for the knob but was arrested by a cry from a lady on the screen who said, so help me God, that the noncommercial station is priceless because it shows us gorgeous things we would not otherwise see on television, such as "Brideshead Revisited" and "Becket."

Is this not a bit much? "Brideshead" was a commercial novel, adapted for television (adapted with uncommon brilliance) by a commercial network in England. "Becket" is a commercial movie which came out many years ago. It is hard to see, in either of those shows, the contribution of noncommercial television.

What they did contribute was an inept and technically abominable series of endless commercials for the station that made it quite impossible to view either show. So much for their contribution to the capital.

But back to technology: on the one hand you may have the technology of radioimmunoassay etc. that leads to an increase in knowledge and delight, as recorded in Science. On the other hand you may have television, sufficiently abused against the public interest that works of art (albeit commercial works of art from commercial producers) are quite ruined for any intelligent or sane audience.

It is one of the endless ironies of our day that self-styled defenders of culture are so frequently, so adamantly, so barbarically, the ravishers of excellence.

Lean and hungry songs on scrannel pipes. Believe me, Milton had an ear.