419: Forks and Spoons
|Forks and Spoons|
Title text: Their biggest mistake was bringing Rachael Ray and Emeril to tour the lab and sign off on the project. That's when Spielberg caught wind of it.
The comic shows scientists testing a new technology similar to Mendelian inheritance, the blending of species.
They show that their new technology allows them to cross a spork (an even mix between a spoon and a fork) with a spoon to make a new implement that is three quarters spoon and one quarter fork. By blending these new fork-spork hybrids and their results together, the scientists could create any mix between a spoon and a fork. (Obviously, regular genetics cannot apply to non-living items).
In the second panel, the amounts of spoon and fork are shown with fractions, the number on the left representing the amount of fork and the right the amount of spoon. The numbers for the cross product below is arrived at by summing each side and dividing by two: (0+1/2)/2 = 1/4 and (1+1/2)/2 = 3/4.
The breeding scheme between the second and the third panel shows at the top how to create a spork from a spoon and a fork, then how this spork could both be bred with either a spoon (as in panel two) or a fork (as shown in the lower right part).
The binary "fork-spoon spectrum" in between the third and fourth panels shows the complete spectrum of sporks from fork to spoon with some of the intermediate steps labeled, the numbers representing how much fork each contains. Since it is a binary spectrum only fractions with a denominator that is a power of 2 will be possible i.e. 2^n with n any integer. So in the middle is a spork with 1/2 fork, in between the spork and the spoon there is only 1/4 fork and in between that and the spoon only 1/8 fork and so on. Also 3/4 fork is marked, whereas 3/8, 5/8 and 7/8 fork is only indicated on the ruler by a small marks. For instance they could breed a 3/8 fork-spork by mixing a 1/4 fork-spork with a spork.
The comic begins like standard sci-fi fare, where amoral scientists request funding from mysterious benefactors. The dialogue of "You're toying with powerful forces here" and "We know what we're doing" is a classic trope, foreshadowing that things will soon go horribly wrong (Warning: the above links are TV Tropes links). It inevitably leads to the humorous incongruity of a sentient spork on a murderous rampage.
Rachael Ray and Emeril, mentioned in the title text, are celebrity chefs, and Steven Spielberg is a famous movie director. The joke seems to be that if the laboratory hadn't hired the two renowned chefs, Spielberg wouldn't have heard about the project and would not have made a movie about it - in which the two scientists are killed off horribly (it is probably the scientist from the first panel, Megan, and her friend, Cueball, or the actors hired to portray them in the film). The plot in the comic is very similar to the story in Spielberg's Jurrasic Park.
- Megan: A spoon crossed with a fork is a spork.
- Off-panel Megan's voice: Our lab has successfully crossed a spork with a spoon. [Diagram showing the fractions of fork and spoon in each item.]
- [Chart showing possible combinations of spoons a forks.]
- Megan, facing audience: With your funding, we could create hybrids in proportions corresponding to any binary fraction.
- [Fork-Spoon Spectrum.]
- Audience member: You're toying with powerful forces here.
- Megan: We know what we're doing.
- Two weeks later:
- [Picture of a destroyed lab with two dead bodies, blood everywhere and a spoon-fork hybrid hopping away.]
- Hop hop hop.