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Friday, February 13, 2009

Futureburger

Teleporters and tricorders were cool, but the thing he Solipsist really envied the crew of the original Starship Enterprise and all its subsequent iterations was the replicator.  You want a New York Strip?  A corn dog?  Peanut-butter and jelly flavored panda cutlets?  Just speak into the callbox, wait a moment while some lights flash, and, Blammo! there you have it.

The world is getting closer to the day of the replicator.

(Digression: You thought the Solipsist was kidding about the cereal and Star Trek thing?  Ha!)

Scientists are working tirelessly to make meatless meat.  No, this is not about soyburgers or tofurkey, bastardized versions of perfectly good food: If vegetarianism is so good, how come vegetarians are always trying to entice recruits by assuring them that veggies can be made to taste "just like meat"?  You know what tastes just like meat?  Meat!

Anyway, no, this is about the attempt on the part of bioengineers to create meat from stem cells--meat without the cow, if you will.  It seems reasonable, if you think about it.  If stem cells can be tailor-made to produce spare kidneys and pancreaseseses (?)--

(Digression: "Mmmmm. . . spare kidneys and pancreaseseses. . . .")

--then why not use them to create tasty treats for the starving masses?  After all, meat is just cellular matter, too, right?  This could work.

What's the catch?  Well, there is the "ick" factor: For one thing, when the stem-cell mixture is cultivated, it basically has a semi-liquid consistency: Think warm, meat-flavored jello.  So in order to get the meat to an acceptable physical consistency, the "medium" has to be "exercised," much the way that real meat acquires its texture through the physical exertion of the animals from which it comes.  Since you can't really put jello on a treadmill, what the lab workers do is "stretch" the "muscle" by subjecting it to shaking and electrical shocks.  So instead of warm, meat-flavored jello, you're talking about warm, meat-flavored jello that has been battered and electrified.

Tasty.

More important, though, the Solipsist is concerned about genetic diversity or the lack thereof.  How do we know we're getting cells from the tastiest of cows?  Are people going around licking cattle to see which ones would make the best donors for our future food chain?  And if not, why not?  The food of the future is coming at us fast, people.  So, the next time you're at a petting zoo, sprinkle some salt on the attractions, and give 'em a little nibble.  When you find one you like, surreptitiously draw some blood and smuggle it out to your nearest DNA sequencing facility.

Your taste buds will thank the Solipsist.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for those visuals. Gah.

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  2. Talk about Trek-inspired tech... for reasons you know too well, my daydreams always involve the holodeck. I must admit really identifying with Lt. Barclay's holo-addiction, 'cause Lord knows, if I had my own holo-deck, you'd rarely see me in the "real" world, no matter how hot Counselor Troi was.

    The imagination boggles at the possibilities. Can you get arrested for what you do in a holodeck?

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