Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Grin and Bear It

"Yes my boy, think on it!" Professor Ormsby said. "Were it not for the fortuitous combination of solar storms, x-radiation and novacane ... and a little help from the Cern particle accelerator you would never have made it to our enlightened age!"

"I knew I should have broken that appointment with the dentist. Stupid insurance. Stupid before and after x-rays," I muttered. I poked at the IV in my arm putting glowing blue juice in my arm. Blue was god in medicine, right.

"Izzat all you have to say? You knuckle dragging primitive ingrate. I brought you to life to aid me in my great endeavors! What say you?"

"Can you fix me up with a cell phone at least? I feel naked without one" I asked.

"Cell ... phone ..." the professor said processing the words.

"Yes ... miniaturized electronics, transistors, you make calls on it, get the weather, internet services?"

"Tran-resistors ..."

"Fer gosh sakes, you guys have anti-gravity, the 5:15 to the Moon and you could kill a small dog with one of your radiophones! What the hell happened in the last 600 years?"

"You obviously know nothing of history. Later for that. Miniaturized electronics! Interesting story about that," the professor said rubbing his hands together. I nodded and made the go on hand waving.

"The company I once worked for had embarked on an ambitious plan to make the tiniest vacuum tubes ever. This required a miniature labor force. We hit on using water bears or your tardigrades to manufacture the eensy tubes! Of course we had to modify the water bears: opposable thumbs, a hive mentality with rudimentary intelligence we might train. But we did it!"

"So how come your electronics all look like something out of Frankenstein's lab and weigh a ton?"

"Oh ... well water bears live in water. We never did figure out how to coax the little bastards to climb out of the water and build fires, let alone blow gas. The company went into bankruptcy."

I face palmed.

"But it had a happy ending! I bought the process and set up my own company. I taught the group minds to master mathematics, built a portable life support system for them and sold them as electronic difference engines. It worked quite well and the tardigrades could hibernate for years until needed."

"Brilliant. Water Bear Hardware," I said.

That got a laugh out of the old guy then he got serious for a moment.

"The hardest part, believe it or not, was micro engraving the tiny slide rules for them. I thought I'd go blin