Sat, Jan 11, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Scientists apologize to girl for failing to make her a dragon


Australia’s national science agency issued a rare apology to a seven-year-old girl for not being able to make a fire-breathing dragon for her, blaming a lack of research into the mythical creatures.

The youngster, Sophie, wrote to a “Lovely Scientist” at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, politely asking whether they could make her a winged pet of her own.

“I would call it ‘Toothless’ if it was a girl and if it is a boy I would name it ‘Stuart,’” she wrote in her letter, promising to feed it raw fish and play with it when she was not attending school.

Toothless is the name of a dragon befriended by a Viking teenager in the How to Train Your Dragon series of children’s books. The pair also feature in a popular film franchise.

Sophie’s request prompted an unusual apology from the 87-year-old institution, which admitted “we’ve missed something.”

“There are no dragons,” it said in a blog reply posted on its Web site this week.

“Over the past 87 odd years we have not been able to create a dragon or dragon eggs,” it said, adding that its scientists had observed dragonflies and even measured the body temperatures of the lizard known as a mallee dragon.

“But our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire-breathing variety. And for this Australia, we are sorry,” it added.

The organization said scientists overseas had recently pondered whether dragon fire would be produced by flint, gas or rocket fuel, and speculated whether its own research into alternative fuels could be a starting block for its dragon research and development program.

“Would dragon fuel be a low emissions option? Thanks for the fuel for thought, Sophie. We’re looking into it,” it said.

The enquiry had a fairy-tale ending yesterday when the organization announced that, thanks to Sophie’s letter, “a dragon was born.”

“Toothless, 3D-printed out of titanium, came into the world at Lab 22, our additive manufacturing facility in Melbourne,” they said.

The electric blue and grey dragon, small enough to be held by hand, is currently en route from Melbourne to Sophie’s home in Brisbane, the organization said.

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