The beakers were bubbling and the computer chips blinking in Jansyl as the 83rd city science fair was being held. One man, Brett Utop, had invented robots that could serve as an army unit to
replace humans in war. Samuel Hallenstein had created a ray gun that could make every day sunny and every night clear within five square miles of the beam. Others had created gadgets that made
computers seem obsolete, an automated food and water generator, a table that senses people’s heights and adjusts the tabletop accordingly, etc. Perhaps the most unusual creation was a concoction of
natural herbs, made by Craig Fanon, which could alter the personality and medical conditions of any living being still within the womb.
“May I please have everyone’s attention?” asked the judge James Kansey, “The time has come to test the inventions. Please perform any preparations that need to be made now.” All of the gizmos blinked and clicked in alignment. “Is everyone ready?” the judge inquired. “Yes,” the inventors murmured in agreement. “I will now come around to every station to see if your contraptions will actually work. When I arrive at your unit I expect an immediate demonstration.”
The judge first visited Woody Colman’s display table. Woody had invented a magazine that analyzes brain wave activity to know when to automatically turn the page. However, the instance that James began to read the first letter of the brief demonstration article about abandoned puppies, the magazine began to tear through its pages, with a number of them falling out. It burst into the same bright orange flames that a young boy might beg his father to make while out camping. As the fire crew stamped out the blaze, Woody fell to his knees. Grabbing at the ashes of his dreams, he sat and wept.
After visiting many identical sites of complete failure, James came to the automated food and water generator. Its inventor, Thomas Lin, pressed a plastic green button with the word “bake” written on it in red paint. He then typed “sugar cookies” on a keypad that protruded out of the machine’s side and hit enter. “Ding!” Out came a plate of golden brown cookies. Thomas stood confidently. He stared at his microwave like invention as James took a bite of one of the cookies.
“These are absolutely scrumptious!” he proclaimed, “I can’t make you any promises, but your invention is definitely in the lead!”
James advanced to Brett Utop‘s station while munching on the remainder of the plate of cookies. Brett’s 100 pound robot, armed with a rifle, shot at targets one hundred feet away moving in front of a 10” concrete wall. Every bullet hit the center of the bulls-eye.
“Very nice,” James said with crumbs flying out of his mouth. “These robots would certainly save many lives if put into battle.”
Next, James visited Samuel Hallenstein’s weather ray.
“In my hand I have a small glass cube that contains an ecosystem of plants under consistently cloudy conditions,” informed Samuel. “These clouds, which are blocking a small, low powered light bulb‘s light, are composed of the same materials that real clouds are made of. Some of the plants are beginning to die due to lack of sunlight, but, with the help of my weather ray, this gloomy day in the flower patch will transform into a sunny, luscious plant paradise.”
Samuel aimed the weather ray at the cube, set it to its lowest range capacity, and fired. The clouds instantly disappeared.
“Well done,” James congratulated, “We could use a few more sunny days in the week in Jansyl.”
Finally, James came to the last display table. Craig Fanon excitedly put his water jug down and jumped up to greet the judge.
“I have with me a pregnant cat of 6 weeks,” Craig explained, “Through analysis of the mother’s womb I have discovered that her offspring will be very aggressive from the moment that they are born. Moreover, they will also have the degenerate condition of ALS. These cats might not live past six months, but now they have new hope. By typing the species of the animal that I would like to alter in my computer and inserting a strand of DNA from both parents, I can obtain a list of medical conditions and personality traits. I can then change the animal’s genetic code, delete anything that may be undesirable, and replace the unwanted genes with more advantageous ones.”
With that, Craig retreated to his desk. The computer’s monitor had a search screen on it. Craig typed “cat” in the search engine and inserted a strand of both of the parents’ hair. After analyzing the hair samples, the computer created a list of traits and medical conditions that the offspring of those parents would posses. With a click of the mouse, Craig deleted both the aggressive behavior from the litter and the ALS. He then clicked and dragged the words “friendly” and “strong” from a list of words to replace the ones that had been removed. He also added “high survival rate” and “premature delivery” to the list. A cylinder of green fluid popped out of the computer’s side compartment. Craig poured the liquid into a shot and gave it to the mother. The cat began meowing violently as her sons and daughters were born. The kittens had a gentle nature and appeared to have no side affects to being born too early.
“Interesting,” James remarked. “Picking a winner is going to be a tough assignment.”
“Truly remarkable,” came a voice from above. “A food generator, weather ray, robots who fight wars, and a genetic alterer, why pick just one?”
The room became shrouded in darkness as the lights flickered off. Amidst all of the confusion, four men with night vision goggles carried the four inventions out of the door.
“Why’d you say that?” asked the man who was carrying the genetic alterer to the man that was in the rafters. “You know that we’re supposed to take extreme caution and use the stealthiest of tactics when on a government mission like this.”
“What, can’t I have a little fun?” came his reply. “Plus, you’ve got to admit, that was pretty cool.”
“No, it wasn’t, not even close. Next time please stick to the program.”
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