Pet Project

Sami wasn’t sure if he was ready to create life – or at least not human life. Maybe he could start with something smaller, like a pet, or even smaller than that.

Having a 3D printer to play with was fun but was also daunting. Was it really true, that with the right materials he could create anything? Meeting Alfred was a stroke of luck. The young entrepreneur had invited Sami into the experimental shop where he was testing his new integrated technology.

“So what did you decide?” said Alfred. “Still interested in using organic materials?”

“Well yes, but nothing ambitious. We could start with amoeba or bacteria.”

“I’m not sure that would work,” said Alfred. “They are simple organisms that are easy to make in theory, but they are fragile. I don’t think they would survive the process. Also, it would be better to make something more tangible; it’s easier than making things we can’t see. We could try making an insect.”

“What about a worm?” said Sami. “I’ve always liked them, and they’re resilient. I hope worms have forgiven me for the experiments I performed on them as a child, cutting them into two, three, four or more pieces, and seeing which parts survived. We could make a worm. Bring one to life. That would improve my karma!”

“Okay, let’s make a worm.” Alfred tapped away at his computer, and printouts appeared on a small desktop printer.

Sami said, “Why don’t you use the 3D printer?”

Alfred looked sheepish. “It’s not very good with paper.” He gave Sami the printouts, which showed worm dissections along various axes.

“What about its biological systems? Will they work properly?”

“Yes, if there is enough detail. I’m going to set up the 3D printer. Can you find some more information on worms? Photos, videos, textbook pages, anything else you find interesting, and we’ll feed it into the printer, and use the integration tool. It combines all of the data to create a holistic model for production.”

Sami collated details of worms’ long, legless, tube-like bodies, their range of sizes from microscopic to over fifty metre long marine worms, their variety of parasitic niches or living freely on land, in marine or freshwater environments, their hermaphroditism and asexual reproduction, their ability to sense light, their muscular hydrostatic structure, the transmission of parasitic worms by mosquitos, their need for food, moisture, oxygen and favorable temperatures, their hatching from cocoons, their ability to replace or replicate lost segments, their valuable role in food chains, and their sticky slime that holds soil particles together.

Alfred reviewed the information before processing. “They are small but quite complex,” he said. “It will take two days to produce the worm.”

After 48 hours they examined the machine. There was nothing there.

“Damn!” said Alfred. “I don’t know what happened. Everything seemed to be working fine. All the key indicators were…”

“Uh-oh,” said Sami as he squashed something on the floor.

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