A double act of narrators
The origins of the universe
Schrodinger's cat and Pavlov's dog
Genetics clones and mutations
When things go wrong and Space travel
Goodness gracious me
Since the cloning of Dolly the sheep and the discovery of embryonic stem cells molecular and developmental biology seem to have taken centre stage in the world of science. Goodness gracious me have done a brilliant sketch on clones. One of the streetwise Bhangramuffins is talking about how everyone will be a clone in the future but the other one gets confused between clones and clowns.
'Everyone's going to be a clone in the future man'.
'What with big shoes and a red nose?'
'No not clowns man, clones.'
Two cars in every garage, Three eyes on every fish
Ideas about mutations are introduced in the Simpson's episode 'Two cars in every garage, Three eyes on every fish.' Bart catches a three-eyed fish in the river which, leads to inspection of the nuclear power plant. Despite Mr. Burns's attempt to bribe the inspector he is told that unless the numerous defects, including using a plutonium rod as a paperweight, are rectified the plant will be shut down.
For once Homer has a brainwave and convinces Mr. Burns to run for governor so that he can decide what's safe and what's not. Part of Mr. Burns's campaign is to use an actor to play Charles Darwin with the aim of using his theory of natural selection to convince the voting public that the three eyed is not a hideous genetic mutation. But instead a 'superfish' sent by god and that it's extra eye will allow it to spread across the world.
The advantage of one eye over two is demonstrated in another one of Matt Groenings shows Futurama. A meteor is about to hit Lelia's home planet, but as all the inhabitants only have on eye they are completely incapable of judging distance.
'How far away do you think it is?'
'About ten thousand light years'
Seconds later KABOOM!
Another time Fry and Lelia go to a cinema which has those red and green 3-D goggles. Fry seems to think they're brilliant but Lelia is having problems. After holding the red and green side up to her eye she declares that hers aren't working.
The next great evolutionary advance
The Simpsons show set me thinking about what the next great evolutionary advance in humans could be. After a fight with bright green washing up liquid I decided that it would almost certainly be glow in the dark ejaculations. Besides the obvious sexual advantage, essential for all mutations to spread throughout a population, there are the everyday advantages. No more need for glow in the dark watches, no problem when the batteries going in your torch to name but a few. Be careful not careful not to get too excited in rooms with low ceilings though, you may create your own constellations, Orgasms belt for example.
Eddie Izzard on genetics
Eddie Izzard brings up some ideas about genetics in his show 'dress to kill.' He starts of by saying "Queen Victoria was one of our more frumpy queens. They're all frumpy aren't they? Because it's a bad idea when cousins marry. Bottom of the gene pool just scrapping the barrel there. Haven't got enough for anymore of you royals there sorry. First rule of genetics spread the genes apart. But the royals are just obsessed with it. Are you royal family? Royal member? You can marry me same gene pool and our I.Qs will go down the toilet. That's why there are no crazy royals. Hello, hello what do you do? You're a plumber what on earth is that?
While on the subject of Eddie Izzard and biology it seems like a good time to go off on a bit of a tangent and talk about an article I read in NewScientist called Faking it. The article shows how cross-dressing in the snake world is a cunning sexual strategy. Transvestite snakes seduce unsuspecting males, sapping there energy, so that they can get it on with the real females at their leisure. The snakes don't actually wear high heels or leggings but instead secrete female chemicals from their skin.
Methods of procreation
Eddie Izzard explains how animals got their methods of procreation as his encore in the definite article. But starts with a little bit about the begging of time. "The big bang everyone stood well back.
'What? Oh stand back. Well how big a bang? Oh very big. Is this back far enough? Oh right.
'Hey Einstein never go back to the universe once its been lit, you know that'. Suddenly the world goes boom and explodes in a big exploding kind of way.
Eventually, once everything had cooled mother nature revealed herself. 'My name is mother nature, creatures of the world form a queue and I will give you your methods of procreation'.
'Oh thanks mother nature we've been dying for a shag.'
'No pushing in at the back, I'll teach you that later. Dogs your method of procreation what we're going to do with you dogs. It's going to be called doggey fashion. Hey, how about that?'
'The dogs go wo wo we invented it.'
'I know you did and its caught on big time.
Now cats, how you doing?
'Now we've got you down for doggey fashion.'
'Meoww what about cattey fashion?'
'Sorry dogs got in there first. It's a patent pending situation. Anyway you've got cat flaps. What the f*ck are you arguing about ey? On your bike.
Now giraffes, good to see you giraffes, now we've got you down for doggey fashion but it's whatever you can work out basically. Hanging out of trees, leaning up against mountains. Sorry about your shape we designed you on the squirrel basis upside down. But it all went a bit wrong, someone bought me a coffee and nudged my elbow, whoose. See you now bye.
Now finally salmon, salmon. Little bit of a surprise for you people. What you've got to do salmon is swim up streama gainst a down flowing river, until you come to a huge waterfall. Ye and then we want you to leap and leap and leap and leap and then you swim along and leap and leap and leap.'
'Er we're quite happy with doggy fashion.'
'Oh no not for you guy. You eventually swim up to the shallow bit you lay eggs, you fertilise the eggs and then you drop down dead ha!'
'Why what did we do?'
'You piss me off you salmon. You're too expensive in restaurants, that's your problem.'
Should the power of stem cell therapy and genetic engineering be realised sketches like this one in my family could become a thing of the past.
Nick: What do you think of my new Nick's bits logo?
Nick's sister: Do you really think anybody has any interest in anything you have to offer?
Nick: Bids for my kidneys are up to £300 on the internet
Nick's sister: What for both of them
Nick: No, all three
Nick's sister: You don't have three kidneys
Nick: They don't know that though, do they?
Nick's sister: What are you going to do when you've got nothing left.
Nick: Then I'll retire
Nick's sister: This is the most ridiculous idea I've ever heard.
Nick: You won't be saying that when I'm the world's richest toe.
Genetically modified foods.
A while ago now NewScientist produced a Gary Larson style cartoon with the caption "Scientists produce Genetically modified vegetables to cure lung cancer." In the picture are two guys one of them is saying your not supposed to inhale them and the other has a carrot shoved up his nose.
Verging on the ridiculous
In his book the end of science John Horgan tells us about Dyson's astrochickens."Dyson speculates in 'infinite in all directions' that genetic engineers might someday grow spacecraft about as big as a chicken and about as smart which could flit on sunlight-powered wings through the solar system and beyond acting as our scouts."
In Red Dwarf Lister and his crew encounter a machine that after various cloning, transmorgrification and DNA rewriting procedures converts Kryten into a human which, leads to this brilliant sketch:
Kryten: Well, just one or two. In fact, I've compiled a little list, if you'll indulge me. Now then, er, my optical system doesn't appear to have a "zoom" function.
Lister: N-no, human eyes don't have a zoom.
Kryten: Well then, how do you bring a small object into sharp focus?
Lister: Well, you just move your head closer to the object.
Kryten: I see. You... move your head... closer... hmmm... to the object. All right, OK. Now, what about other optical effects, like split screen, slow motion, quantel?
Lister: No, we don't have them.
Kryten: You don't have them. Just the zoom. Mmm. Oh well, no, that's fine, that's great, no, that's, that's really great. That's great. Now then, er, my, my nipples don't work.
Lister: Er, in what way don't work?
Kryten: Well, er, when I was a mechanoid, the right nipple nut was used to, er, regulate body temperature, while the left nipple nut was used mainly to, er, pick up short-wave radio transmissions. Now, what I'm saying is, no matter how hard I twiddle it, I can't seem to pick up Jazz FM.
Lister: Human nipples don't do that, Kryte.
Kryten: I see. Fine. Ah, now - recharging. Now I presume that, er, when a human wants to recharge, they do it much the same way mechanoids do. Indeed, I have located what I presume to be the recharging socket, but - for some strange reason - it doesn't appear to have the standard three-pin adaption. Now, do I have to use some kind of special adaptor, 'cause no matter what I do, the lead just keeps falling out.
Lister: Kryten, we eat and sleep. That's our way of recharging.
Kryten: Ah. Mmm. Ah, yes! Now, I wanted to talk to you about something. Something about, erm, well something I know we humans get a little embarrassed about. It's a bit of a "taboo" subject - not the sort of thing we like to sit around and chat about in polite conversation.
Lister: Kryten, I'm an enlightened 23rd Century guy! Spit it out, man.
Kryten: Well, I want to talk to you about my penis.
Kryten: I knew it! You've gone straight into "smirk" mode! Aren't we both two human adults? Can't we talk about our reproductive system without adolescent sniggering?
Lister: Yeah, course we can.
Kryten: Thank you.
Lister: Well, well, well what?
Kryten: Well, what do you think?
Lister: I'm not quite with you here, Kryten - what am I supposed to say?
Kryten: I want to know, is that normal?
Lister: What, takin' photographs of it an' showin' it to your mates? No, it's not!
Kryten: Well, yes, but is it supposed to look that that?
Lister: Well, yeah.
Kryten: But it's hideous! That's the best design they could come up with? Are you seriously telling me there were choices, and someone said, "Ah, there - that's it. That's the shape we're looking for the last chicken in the shop look". Shakespeare had one? Einstein? Perry Como sang, "Memories Are Made Of This" with one of those stashed in his slacks?
Lister: Well, yeah.
Kryten: No wonder humans don't have a zoom mode! Urgh!
Kryten: Now, take a look at this.
Kryten: And this.
Kryten: Now, why do you suppose that happened?
Lister: W-w-w-what were you thinkin' of at the time?
Kryten: Well, nothing in particular, sir. I was just idly flicking through an electrical appliance catalogue. I came across the section on super deluxe vacuum cleaners, and suddenly my underpant elastic was catapulted across the Medical Bay.
Lister: You see, man? You're neither one thing or the other. You shouldn't be gettin' erotic thoughts about electrical appliances.
Kryten: Er, it was a triple-bag, easy-glide vac, with turbo-suction and a self-emptying dustbag.
Lister:Kryte, I don't care what model it was! No vacuum cleaner should give a human being a double polaroid! Do yourself a favour, man - change back.