Thursday 7 April 2016

Original USS Enterprise survives another tribble invasion

In one of the most ill-advised celebrations of Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary, the Smithsonian Institution recklessly risked ecological catastrophe a few days ago, by launching a tribble breeding program! Aware of the potential for the experiment to get out of control, the institution only planned for the program to last for a single day, running twenty-four hours over the first of April...

Why would the Smithsonian take such a crazy risk? Well they hoped to use tribbles to make developments in multiple scientific fields:
Apart from tracking the tribble’s prodigious propagation, the program will explore practical uses for the creatures. Previous proposals include military and intelligence-gathering applications (such as a tribble bomb or Klingon detector) or as a viable source of food. The menu of Paris’ Café des Artistes includes Tribbles dans les Blankettes (tribbles in a blanket), though some have found the dish gauling. Others have suggested that they be considered as souvenirs for Museum visitors. Detractors consider the creatures about as useful as an ermine violin, soft and furry with a pleasing sound but serving no particular purpose. But while they neither toil nor spin, tribbles have a bright future in sustainable energy, according to STEM in 30 host Beth Wilson. “When you shuffle your socks across the carpet and then shock your brother with the built-up static electricity, that’s the triboelectric effect,” she explained. “The tribbles’ triboelectric potential could provide an energy source that’s 100% clean, apart from the shedding.”
In order to start the breeding they brought five tribbles they had been holding in stasis, since the seventies, out of storage. Of course they aren't the only Star Trek relics in the possession of the museums, right now the original USS Enterprise miniature is undergoing restoration, curiously enough taking it back to its appearance in episode The Trouble with Tribbles, when the last modifications were made to the model during the production of the series. As you can see in this photo posted on Twitter by Star Trek author Glenn Hauman, the tribbles, which inevitably got out of control, got perilously close to chomping on the pieces of the disassembled Enterprise. Troubling indeed!

Here's a video introducing the tribble breeding program:

The various museums and departments of the Smithsonian posted lots of updates on the tribbles over the day, including a gallery on the Air and Space Museum's Facebook page, and lots of posts on Twitter tagged #TribbleTrouble. There experiments included a look at tribble psychology:

My favourites came from the Environmental Research Center, who highlighted their containment techniques, and what they did when those failed...

You'll find plenty more images documenting the incidents on  Facebook and Twitter, including this video of one of the more innovative tribble countermeasures. Hopefully next April the Smithsonian wont be foolish enough to repeat this experiment...

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