``There's good news for the jellyfish shortage.''
- ``I didn't know we had a jellyfish shortage. Where were we keeping them, in the guest bathroom?''
``We weren't keeping them anywhere.''
- ``Thus explaining the shortage.''
``It's not our shortage I was talking about. We've got as many jellyfish as we need.''
- ``That's not much of a shortage, then.''
``I admit I hadn't been aware there was a shortage.''
- ``So the good news on the jellyfish shortage is increasing awareness of the jellyfish shortage? We'll be more thoughtful about our jellyfish usage after all this? We'll start looking to non-jellyfish-based sources of doing whatever it is we rely on jellyfish to do for us?''
``I assume so.''
- ``What do we rely on jellyfish for, anyway?''
``They harmonize nicely with the peanut butter dolphins. Gives us a more pleasant alternative to the Marmite mermaids. That sort of thing.''
- ``If we're just using jellyfish for imaginary food then I wouldn't think we'd need many of them. One or two should be usable for something like infinitely many meals.''
``Jellyfish have many merits other than the presumption that we could use them as things to eat, and this position is not negated by the fact that I don't know what any of them are.''
- ``So, what, we've found ways to artificially recreate the functionality of jellyfish so there's not as much need for them?''
``Yeah, looks like.''
- ``I'm disappointed. That undercuts the joke I was just about to form, I think.''
``I read where a team of researchers at Cal Tech and Harvard University built a synthetic jellyfish.''
- ``Where do you suppose they worked? Was it Cal Tech, or Harvard, or did they sneak into some unsuspecting university and use the bathroom there?''
``Why would they sneak into any other university? Wouldn't they have their own bathrooms?''
- ``Oh, think now. Suppose something went wrong and they accidentally set off a giant rampaging monster jellyfish, storming its way through the science building and out to the quadrangle and knocking over dozens of stereos turned out to face the lawn and playing nothing because all the students are listening to their iPods anyway. Would you want that to happen at your own campus?''
``There's probably still people who blast music out their dorm windows.''
- ``Much better to risk the trouble at some other campus. Just wait until after quiet hours and get your work done swiftly and home Carnegie-Mellon doesn't come over banging on the door to find out what all that fuss is.''
``I'm not sure you even keep jellyfish in bathtubs, though. Think of the stain they'd leave on the ceramic.''
- ``What got them on making jellyfish, anyway?''
``Came from thinking how much they're like human heart tissue, actually.''
- ``They've got different ideas of how much `much like' is than I do.''
``So the researchers put together a silicone base --- ''
- ``That's not getting much closer to `much like' the human heart.''
``And then laid down a protein base and layered over it with cells taken from rats.''
- ``The rat thing again isn't getting all that `much like' the human heart.''
``Clearly you've never been involved with a smitten rat.''
- ``Nor a heartsick jellyfish, but apparently that's just about the same thing as making a synthetic Doberman pincher.''
``It responds to all kinds of electric currents.''
- ``Don't we all?''
- ``If they're applied long enough.''
``You know the thing I'm wondering about?''
- ``How long until the jellyfish get to making synthetic rats?''
``The bit about cells taken from rats.''
- ``That can't be a happy taking. If I know rats, they want to keep nearly all the cells they've got. It's a hoarding thing, I imagine. Can you imagine their putting little name labels on all their body parts?''
``Right. You can't suppose they were volunteer rats for this.''
- ``They might have asked. If you get a large enough population I'm sure they could find a couple rats looking for a chance to be rebuilt as electromagnetically-controlled artificial jellyfish.''
``If you ask a large enough population you can find a couple folks looking to do anything.''
- ``Like researching methods to build synthetic jellyfish.''
``So maybe they built this at a volunteer university.''
Trivia: The five United States cities which were candidates for the 1952 Olympic Games were Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia. The only European entrants were Amsterdam and Helsinki. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle. (I don't know whether the prospect of a Detroit Games or a Minneapolis Games strikes me as more fascinating. Detroit was also up for the 1944 Olympics, but lost out to London.)
Currently Reading: Flat Earth: The History Of An Infamous Idea, Christine Garwood.