Girl asks Australia's CSIRO scientists for dragon so they 3-D print her one
Australia's national science agency apologised to a seven-year-old girl for not being able to make her a fire-breathing dragon, blaming a lack of research into the mythical creatures.
The youngster, Sophie, wrote to a "Lovely Scientist" at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), politely asking whether they could make her a winged pet of her own.
"I would call it Toothless if it was a girl and if it is a boy I would name it Stuart," she wrote in her letter, promising to feed it raw fish and play with it when she wasn't at school.
Toothless is the name of a dragon befriended by a Viking teenager in the How to Train Your Dragon series of children's books and related films.
Sophie's request prompted an apology from the 87-year-old institution, which admitted "we've missed something".
"There are no dragons," it said in a blog reply posted on its website this week.
"Over the past 87 odd years we have not been able to create a dragon or dragon eggs," it said, adding that its scientists had observed dragonflies and even measured the body temperatures of the lizard known as a mallee dragon.
"But our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire-breathing variety. And for this Australia, we are sorry."
The CSIRO said scientists overseas had recently pondered whether dragon fire would be produced by flint, gas, or rocket fuel, and speculated whether its own research into alternative fuels could be a starting block for its dragon research and development programme.
"Would dragon fuel be a low emissions option? Thanks for the fuel for thought, Sophie. We're looking into it," it said.
There was a fairy-tale ending yesterday when the CSIRO announced that, thanks to Sophie's letter, "a dragon was born".
"Toothless, 3D printed out of titanium, came into the world at Lab 22, our additive manufacturing facility in Melbourne," they explained in a new blog.
The electric blue and grey dragon sculpture, small enough to be held by hand, is now en route to Sophie's Brisbane home.