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SILLY SCIENCE

by Rose Madeline Mula

 

Apparently these days it's possible to shop for a designer baby, as well as for designer clothes. A couple with big bucks who yearns for a perfect child can purchase an egg produced by the ovaries of a super model who is a member of Mensa, have it fertilized with sperm from a handsome Olympic gold medallist who is also a Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, have the fertilized egg imbedded in the womb of the wannabe mom, and nine months later—voila! A gorgeous, gifted baby to call their own. Well, almost.

With designer babies in the offing, can designer pets be far behind? Apparently not. Transgenics Pets, a small company in Syracuse, New York, is developing allergen-free kittens for the one out of three cat owners in the United States who fancy their felines but are extremely sensitive to them. Before long these red-eyed, drippy-nosed cat lovers may be able to purchase a non-sneeze-inducing kitten at a price described only as "high." The good news is that in several years, such an animal will probably sell for $750 to $1,000, which apparently the company considers to be a steal.

Compared with these wacky scenarios, the following recent scientific developments seem almost prosaic:

  • By this time next year, moms may not be reminding their kids to drink their orange juice or take their vitamin pills. Instead, they'll nag, "Put on your vitamin C." They will not be talking about a new lotion but about a T-shirt made from fiber containing a chemical developed by the Japanese firm, Fuji Spinning Co. Ltd. This chemical responds to the warmth of human skin and turns into vitamin C, which is then absorbed into the body. Next on Fuji Spinning's drawing board: underwear infused with other vitamins. Fortunately, the clothing will be washable and its health-giving benefits estimated to survive thirty launderings.

  • The next time you go to the grocery store you may wonder why the packaged cheese is such a funny color? Because it's not cheese at all. It's peanut butter and jelly processed into slices and separated by waxed paper squares. This so-called advance in food technology was developed by food processing engineers at the University of Oklahoma. Their goal? Convenience. God forbid Jimmy or Susie might have to open a couple of jars and actually spread old-fashioned PB&J onto a slice of bread. All that work would take away from their Nintendo time. Also, the slices are much neater. Less chance of excess filling getting trapped under their tongue studs or dripping onto their vitamin C-infused T-shirts necessitating an extra washing.

  • Another innovation is the square watermelon developed by Japanese horticulturists. Sure they cost anywhere from $80-$130 (compared to $15-$25 for regular watermelon in Japan); but, again, convenience rules. The square fruit is much easier to stack in the super market and to store in the fridge at home. What's next? Maybe rectangular turkeys that will fit nicely on the oven rack? That would at least eliminate the Thanksgiving arguments over who gets the drumsticks. Where will it end?

  • In France they've already gone too far. A study of 34,000 French people published in April supported the theory that "regular and moderate" consumption of red wine reduced the risks of cardiovascular disease by 30%. Fantastic! We could now savor our dinner aperitif guilt-free and virtuous. Enter the French Distilleries Company to spoil it all by developing a pill to replace wine. Can you picture it? A romantic, candlelit dinner for two. He gazes into her eyes and proposes a toast, "To you, my precious Cherie." She whispers, "No, Mon Amor. To us." Their eyes still locked, they pop pills, click their water goblets, and sip. So maybe the goblets are crystal and maybe the water is Perrier, but stillit's just not the same.

And back in the good old USA, Heinz's new green ketchup has been so successful, the company is now developing a purple variety. We can probably expect blue, orange and yellow to follow before long. With this expanding palette, kids will soon be able to draw multicolor pictures on their burgers and fries—better than eating them I suppose.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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