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i'm not going to the pub.
are you as hungover as me today? i bet you arent.
if someone else does it? Or is that the home time thread?
on my way past the lakes today i saw a dog fighting with a swan and loads of geese/ducks/seagulls bobbing about in a semi circle and watching the fight. i think the swan was the winner because the old man called his dog back
also i haven't slept since i woke up at 7am yesterday :(
A letter to militant gerentologist and all-round-badass Aubrey De Grey R.E flying pigs -
I saw you on TV the other day, and was hoping that now that the aging problem has been solved, you might have time to help me in my publicity campaign to solve a similar engineering challenge, one that has been too long ignored by the ultra-conservative, fraidy-cat mainstream scientific community, the problem of producing flying pigs.
A theoretical analysis of the problem, using the fastest available modern computers, shows that there are a mere seven reasons why pigs cannot, at present, fly.
1. They do not have wings.
2. They are too heavy to get off the ground.
3. The so-called “law” of gravity.
4. They cannot climb trees.
5. Hair, instead of feathers.
6. They do not wish to fly.
7. They do not tweet.
Although I have been too busy in my day job to find time to work in a laboratory, I have been able to show clearly that these problems can be solved, using an approach I call Plan for Engineered Porcine Aviation, or PEPA.
1. No wings: genetic engineering will be used to alter Hox-box promoters and micro-RNA gene enhancers to re-activate the pre-wing somite program. Some stem cell therapy might help here, too; at any rate, it cannot hurt.
2. Too heavy: although the average pig cell is a bulky 20 microns in diameter, science has recently documented (R. M. Morris et al., Nature 420:806, 2002) free-living organisms as small as 0.8 microns in diameter. By the well known inverse cube law, a reduction in mean cell diameter of 25 will lead to a reduction in volume of 253 = 15,625, with a corresponding reduction in pig weight.
3. Gravity problem: This one’s easy – either move the pig to Phobos, one of the low gravity satellites of Mars, where people are going anyway and they can just drop the pig off on the way, or else use transient hypergravity attractivity to hollow out the Earth by removing the heavy and unnecessary core. As a side effect, if this is done properly, it just might speed up the Earth’s rotation sufficiently to provide the pig with a bit of a push to get it started, too.
4. Can’t climb trees: Who says pigs cannot climb trees? Because so far most of their food has been placed in troughs or in the undergrowth of French forests, pigs have not previously been motivated to climb trees. In any case, the Japanese bonsai industry has already succeeded in engineering trees with the necessary height/megabase-pair ratio to alleviate the problem.
5. No feathers: the Drosophila antennapaedia gene, for which a Nobel prize was recently awarded, allows the transformation of bristles into legs or antennas, and there’s no reason this wouldn’t work for feathers and pigs, too.
6. Lack of motivation: easy to solve: lysergic acid diethylamide.
7. Tweet problem: implantable helium sacs, just under the armpits, so whenever they flap their wings a bit of helium gets squirted into their vocal cavity. I read an article about this in MIT’s distinguished and highly respected alumni journal, Technology Review, so I know it can be done.
Although each of these strategies is based upon sound scientific precedent or fantasy, nonetheless some of my conservative critics here on the local tenure committee have argued, from their ivory tower, that no one has yet proven that any one of these methods has been shown to convert porkers to parakeets. But no one has yet tried all seven of them together, don’t you see! In addition, funding for porcine avionics research has to date been very very low, due to the stubborn insistence of NIH on peer review. The PEPA program, however, has been endorsed, or at any rate not publicly pilloried, by dozens of eminent scientists whose names I could give you if necessary.
Amazing though it may seem, I believe that we are now at what I call a “cusp” in the history of either porkiculture or aviation or both. Pigs born before April 14, 2009, will be destined to a life on the ground, rooting about for scraps, grunting unpleasantly, and constantly getting their curly little tails entangled in low-lying shrubs. Pigs born after April 15, 2009 (or perhaps a few days later), will in contrast waft lazily through the lambent skies, tweeting merry greetings to one another, nibbling at an occasional air-truffle, and enjoying panoramic views of either Cambridge or Phobos, depending. Also, they’ll get to live forever, by following the practices so stirringly depicted in your own articles.
All I need is a clever marketing gimmick – perhaps a prize of some sort, that will fool journalists and conference organizers into thinking that the only reason none of this works yet is that scientists are afraid to debate with me. Any advice?
All the best,