If you’re anything like the Weekender staff, you’ll spend most of your time pondering life’s great questions.
Things like: if the universe is indeed infinite, then does it not also contain the very high probability that infinity itself is by nature an impossibility? Or: if a woodchucker called Chuck would chuck wood, which wood would Chuck the woodchucker chuck? Or even: what’s the best-tasting dinosaur?
Luckily, we can guess the answer to the last one, mainly due to the infinite capacity for humans to creatively spend their time at work doing anything else aside from what we’ve agreed to do in return for being tossed a few grubby, meagre coins even as we grow more decrepit and stagger ever-further from our dreams, heads and backs bowed as all vestiges of confidence, creativity and ultimately meaning itself are gradually stomped to tatters under the day to day ennui of existence. Such is the lot of David Varricchio, professor of palaeontology at Montana State University, who has been pondering which of the giant lizards would go best with a nice Chianti.
And he’s concluded that an ostrich-esque dino called Ornithomimid was close enough for birds, ate mostly plant matter and due to the fast growth and activity, would probably be “a lean, slightly wild-tasting red meat”. Velociraptors would be game-tasting whilst armoured dinos would probably have a lot of white meat in their tail. Sauropods – the biggest animals ever to walk the earth – would have some “sturdy red meat” in their necks. But as ever, Tyrannosaurus Rex would not be something you’d want to meet, or meat in this case: they ate rotten meat, suffered from diseases and would be laden with parasites. As if they didn’t have enough problems with those useless tiny arms waving about.
Food, of course, is one of life’s sensory pleasures. Not only can it stimulate the tastebuds but also the visual and tactile senses. Then there’s the sharing aspect of a good meal.
Of course, there are elements of society that prefer to take short cuts toward lighting up the pleasure centres in the brain – the nucleus accumbens. In other words, alcohol or other drugs can self-perpetuate cravings by their very consumption and this can lead to addiction. So, say Chinese scientists, the solution is obvious: kill off the pleasure centres involved. Trouble is, this also stops people enjoying ordinary experiences, too. Way to use a wheel to crush a butterfly, lads.
The United States is also fiddling around on the boundaries of danger, mind – Science Daily reports that “John Chaput, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and colleagues at the Department of Pharmacology, Midwestern University, Glendale, have fabricated an artificial protein in the laboratory and examined the surprising ways living cells respond to it”.
This, says the Chapster, might lead to the development of “novel therapeutic agents”. Or, as Weekender prefers to put it “self-aware viruses hell-bent on taking down any DNA that disagrees with their evil plan to take over the world”.
Hm, maybe we oughta take the example of the dinosaurs and get rid of any hubristic thoughts about humankind being top of the brain-chain. We’re only one test tube away from doom.