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Monday, November 14, 2005

Cartoon Episodes about Science

Peanuts episode: “That’s Biotechnology, Charlie Brown!”
Charlie Brown loses yet another kite within the branches of his nemesis, the kite-eating tree. However, Linus cleverly observes that this action is not unlike the concept of phytoremediation—whereby green plants are capable of removing pollutants from the environment. Linus, along with Sally as his doting lab assistant, immediately sets upon cloning this particular tree, and goes on to secure a patent for “the use of the kite-eating tree to remove kites and other airborne contaminants from the air.” As a result, Charlie Brown and Linus embark on a biotechnology business venture that quickly makes them extremely wealthy. Empowered with his new affluence, Charlie Brown finally tells Lucy to “fuck off.”

The Super Friends epsiode: “Wonder vs. Wonder”
When it becomes clear that a mission is botched because Wonder Woman is clearly visible in her invisible jet, unhappy murmurs begin to surface within the Super Friends’ organization. In particular, Zan, of the Wonder Twins, is merciless in his teasing of Wonder Woman. It also doesn’t help that Wonder Woman, herself, is generally not impressed with his otherwise useless superpower (“Form of a bucket of water? What in Amazon is that about?”) In any event, Batman decides to put his scientific mind to work by fixing the jet and soon discovers a small error in the optics of one of the twenty cameras that are responsible for the illusion. Unfortunately, this only seems to encourage Zan further, who torments Wonder Woman on the seemingly mundane manner that invisibility is conferred. (“It’s literally all done with cameras! What a loser plane!”) In the end, fed up with Zan’s abuse, Wonder Woman soundly beats the crap out of him.

The Simpsons episode: “My Fat Bonehead”
Guest starring as herself, Jessica Simpson visits Springfield to teach Homer the ropes of becoming a southern gentleman (à la My Fair Lady). This goes as well as expected, and Bart in particular becomes completely smitten by the young lady. However, it is then revealed that Lisa is recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and furthermore is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Miraculously, Jessica Simpson is the perfect match, which culminates in the use of genetic testing techniques to show that she is, indeed, Homer and Marge’s long-lost lovechild. Bart then has to deal with conflicting feelings of lust and the heebie-jeebies from this apparently incestuous crush.

Dora the Explorer episode: “¡Hola! I Have a Brain Tumor!”
In this episode, Dora visits her doctor to complain about her dry, red, and itchy eyes. The doctor quickly solves the problem by advising Dora to try blinking for a change. However, at this visit, the doctor quickly suspects Dora is plagued with a more serious psychosomatic condition, since she continually refers to a talking backpack, a talking map, and a talking monkey with a perceived preference for sturdy yet red colored footwear. When Dora continues to stare off into the distance and ask bizarre and loud questions towards no one in particular (“What was YOUR favorite part of the day?”), the doctor decides to take matters into his own hand and schedules her for a CAT scan.

David Ng is a biochemist and the Director of the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (AMBL) at The University of British Columbia. He has only used his 'Dr' moniker on his Safeway club card, but regrettably the cashiers there never call him Doctor anyway. His writing has appeared in Maisonneuve, Biochemical Journal, McSweeney's, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, as well as his own literary science writing site, The Science Creative Quarterly. Disturbingly, he has both the means and the expertise to clone himself, but (thankfully) promises he won't.