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R&D Into Australian Dragons Is a Success!

Dragons are pretty high up there on the geek love list... and for one little girl, Australia's finest are making them a reality.

I've always wanted a dragon.

I was in first grade when I realized that the closest I was ever going to get was a dinosaur. Dinosaurs! Their names were a litany: Tyrannosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Triceratops...

And then I found out they were dead, too. Ah, the disappointments of childhood.

Now admit it. So have you.

Of course, reality never stopped me from dreaming and taking that well-worn step through the wardrobe or past the Shire. Plenty of dragons there. When I got older, there were more! Monster Hunter, Metroid, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim...

http://www.wallchan.com/images/sandbox/59623-skyrim-dragon.jpg

Now, with the second Peter Jackson Hobbit trilogy film just out of theaters and the third (and last) coming out later this year, a whole new generation of children are coming up dragons - and they aren't above doing more than dreaming.

On Monday, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia had this to say on the subject:

We’ve been doing science since 1926 and we’re quite proud of what we have achieved. We’ve put polymer banknotes in your wallet, insect repellent on your limbs and Wi-Fi in your devices. But we’ve missed something.

There are no dragons.

Over the past 87 odd years we have not been able to create a dragon or dragon eggs. We have sighted an eastern bearded dragon at one of our telescopes, observed dragonflies and even measured body temperatures of the mallee dragon. But our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire-breathing variety.

And for this Australia, we are sorry.

This apology came around because just that day, they had received the following letter:

Hello Lovely Scientist

My name is Sophie and I am 7 years old. My dad told me about the scientists at the CSIRO. Would it be possible if you can make a dragon for me. I would like it if you could but if you can’t thats fine. 

I would call it toothless if it was a girl and if it is a boy I would name it Stuart. 

I would keep it in my special green grass area where there are lots of space. I would feed it raw fish and I would put a collar on it. If it got hurt I would bandage it if it hurt himself. I would play with it every weekend when there is no school. 

Love from Sophie

http://csironewsblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/letter.jpg

They promised to look into it. After all, the Scientific American hypothesised whether dragon fire would be produced by flint, gas, or rocket fuel, and CSIRO already does research in alternative fuels. What better reason than to begin accelerating the dragon R&D program?

But the story hardly ends there!

The story flew across the globe faster than any sort of winged creature, even the mythical variety. Sophie's story featured on TIMEHuffington PostThe IndependentYahooBreakfast TV, and more.

People began contacting CSIRO to help.

DreamWorks Studios phoned (no, really, they did) saying they knew how to train dragons and wanted to speak with Sophie. She had gone viral.

Well, CSIRO couldn't just leave it at that. Especially since they'd promised.

So, earlier this morning at 9:32 a.m. (AEDT) on January 10, a dragon was born.

http://csironewsblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/3d_toothless.jpg

Baby dragon Toothless, 3D printed out of titanium at Lab 22, CSIRO’s additive manufacturing facility in Melbourne, was not entirely a new project for Australia’s finest. The scientists there have printed plenty of wild, fanciful things in the past - huge anatomically correct insects, for one. One little dragon? Piece of cake.

“Being that electron beams were used to 3D print her, we are certainly glad she didn’t come out breathing them … instead of fire,” said Chad Henry, our Additive Manufacturing Operations Manager. “Titanium is super strong and lightweight, so Toothless will be a very capable flyer.”

Even now, Toothless is well on her way from Lab 22 in Melbourne to Sophie in Brisbane.

And what about Sophie? According to her mother, she’s thrilled - and has told everyone about dragon breath, the new fuel of the future. As an extra special bonus, the response has clinched it for Sophie - she has her future career already mapped out for her.

As her mother told the Canberra Times:

”All her friends are now saying they want to be a scientist and Sophie says she now wants to work at CSIRO. She’s saying Australian scientists can do anything.”

I certainly hope so. In the meantime, I have a standing date to hang with Akatosh in the Imperial City.

Published Jan. 10th 2014

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