Last week, Dutch scientists provided the answer to a question nobody had asked when they announced the successful creation of laboratory-grown meat. Presumably while standing in front of a massive, sparking Jacob's ladder, these scientists also announced their plans to create the first artificial hamburger later this year, mixing artificial muscle, artificial fat and presumably a hint of love into a single lump of horrible. Time travelers arriving from later this year have yet to come back and warn us away from such a folly, but they are certainly en route.
In a way, this shouldn't surprise us too much: Dutch cuisine is well known for its use of ingredients like dried fish, mayonnaise and despair, so news that those wooden-shoed madmen were creating another culinary abomination is perfectly within character. But it's their use of advanced genetic technology that raised our eyebrows, especially given our history of fabricating scare stories about modern science to drum up business for our Cracked-brand Apocalypse Kitz.
So, to find out exactly how these meat-forging lunatics intended to destroy the world (and if they weren't doing that at all, to try and fix that), I was sent to the Netherlands. After touching down in Netherland City, I caught a bicycle to Maastricht University, which is not, as you might expect, built on an isolated island or in the heart of an active volcano.
It was just a completely regular-looking Dutch university.
There I sat down with Dr. Mark Post, keeping a close eye to see if there were any restraints built into the chair I was sitting in.
Cracked: Thanks for making time for me, Dr. Post.
Mark Post: Oh, you're welcome. We've had a lot of attention from the media lately.
C: I'll bet, I'll bet. Now, strictly speaking, Cracked.com is a little different from the media. We don't report on the world so much as pick at it and mock it and, oftentimes while doing so, befoul it.
MP: I see.
C: Like imagine the BBC, if the BBC got urine on the things it reports on. That's Cracked.
C: So with that out of the way and you still in the room, I guess my first question is to find out what exactly you're doing here. Re: this artificial meat business --
MP: Really. We're really making artificial meat.
C: Like in a test tube?
MP: A petri dish, actually.
C: Because when people hear "test tube meat," they immediately think about university pranks gone wrong, and penile sutures, and embarrassing nicknames that never leave you.
C: Glass Porker. That was the one I was thinking of.
MP: Wow. We're not doing that at all.
C: I don't recommend it.
MP: I can imagine.
C: I don't recommend that, either.
MP: This is kind of a strange interview.
C: Well, you're kind of a strange-looking guy.
MP: Basically, we're using a technique that cultivates stem cells from a cow and forces them to turn into muscle cells.
C: These are the same stem cells that have been in the news the last few years because of the controversies, correct?
MP: Not quite. What we're ...
C: It was spider-men, wasn't it? You guys were using stem cells to create spider-men?
MP: Those are human stem cells you're thinking of, and I don't think anyone's trying to create spider-men.
C: Because you have to understand
MP: That's not really what we're ...
C: Sticky voyeurism.
MP: We're not doing ...
C: And bondage-related crimes. Bondage-related
(The interview stops for several seconds.)
C: Holy s**t. I just went to a weird place.
MP: I see.
C: Do you?
MP: I can assure you that we're not doing anything like that at all. Just creating meat.
C: I guess then that my next question is: why? I mean, cows have been making beef for more than 80 years. Why change that now?
MP: It's because it takes an enormous amount of grain, and consequently, energy, to get beef from a cow. The method we've created uses a fraction of that energy. And because the number of people who want to eat meat is growing rapidly, a more efficient source of meat will be very valuable in the near future.
C: That is disappointingly sane. You're sure you're not doing this to please ancient meat lords who only you can see?
MP: No, we're not.
C: I've got to tell you, I've got mixed feelings about this.
MP: How so?
C: Well, as a protector of humanity, I'm pleased to see that you are seemingly sane ...
MP: There is no way you're a protector of humanity.
C: Everyone who works for Cracked is a protector of humanity. It's kind of a thing we do. We have this conference room with a TV on the wall and we sit there and watch the news on mute and pretend we're the Super Friends.
"Help us, Cracked writers! Our children have been kidnapped by space giraffes! They demand all the world's high foliage!"
MP: (massive look of confusion)
C: It's this American cartoon show from the '70s. It taught children about ... uh ...
MP: (long pause) It taught children what?
C: I'm thinking. Crime, I guess. That doesn't sound right, does it?
MP: (massive look of confusion)
C: Anyways ... the thing that really concerns me is the way you're misusing your creation. The people of the earth don't need your meat-genesis engine to feed them.
MP: They don't?
C: No. They need it as a symbol. As a sign that the world is a stupid and hilarious and beautiful place.
MP: I don't understand.
C: If somehow we could convince the world that you're a mad scientist, and that you've created an artificial cow that you intend to ride around on and make yee-haw sounds, like an artificial cowboy ...
MP: That doesn't make sense. That doesn't make at least two different types of sense.
C: ... I think that'd make a lot of people smile and, consequently, end some wars. All the wars? Perhaps if you wore a tiny little cowboy hat at the same time.
MP: You're insane.
C: Look, doctor, if that's your real name ...
MP: It's obviously not.
C: False accusations of insanity are exactly the kind of symptoms I'm going to report are common among sufferers of meat-madness. Now please give me your device.
MP: It's not a device. It's an extremely fragile apparatus. Wait, what are you doing with that cardboard tube?
C: I'm going to put your device in it.
C: Because once it's inside the tube, the meat will expel out one end, generating thrust, allowing the tube to be ridden like a horrible rocket. Isn't it obvious?
MP: What? This thing generates about 1 cc of meat a week. You're not going to get any thrust out of that.
C: So instead of programming it to make meat, we make it make more meat-genesis devices. Exponential growth! Lateral thinking! Soon you'll be traveling to meetings and dates in style on your artificial cow. The public and anyone else standing below will rue you. You will be rued! This will make for a great column!
MP: This is insane. You're insane.
C: Would an insane man use a stun gun hidden in his shoe to disable a scientist, strap him to an artificial cow and then take pictures of it to give to the world?
MP: Yes. Wait! NOOOOOOOO!
(Exactly that happens.)
C: Thank you, doctor, but you were right the first time, the answer was actually "Yes."
"Legally speaking, holy s**t can we ever not publish this. What is the Latin for "holy s**t"? We should look that up before the judge yells it at us." -- Cracked's attorneys
C: Now then, where's the starter cord on this thing? Or ... it's not ... it couldn't ...
(Bends down, squints down length of partially meat-filled tube.)
C: ... need a push start?
"Sanctus faeces" -- Cracked's attorneys
Check out more from Bucholz in Unlikely Survival Guide: So you've been challenged to a duel and Complaints to Domino's That They Didn't Put in Their Ad.
Our bodies are changing.
Many of today's celebrities have some real surprises in their family trees.
Everybody loves a good old-fashioned meltdown.
Science is fun.