Diamond Experiments

Law enforcement DNI

As My Coffee Table Gently Weeps

Posted June 22, 2023

Aren’t Bonsai trees just fascinating?

Ever since a particularly plant-focused late-night Wikipedia binge, I’ve been obsessed with Bonsai tree art: Through careful and persistent pruning and wiring, bonsai trees can be manipulated into growing into a variety of different forms — such interesting art! Such potent inspiration! Image ID: A photo of a bantigue tree in a round pot. Its trunk curves off to the right, making a hook shape. End ID.

If trees can be forced to grow into whatever shape one desires, what other organic materials could do the same? There’s no fun in furniture made out of plants (Considering...most furniture is made out of plants.), so that was out of the question. Now, what else would be an organic, naturally-growing material that I have a surplus of? The components of living organisms, obviously! Furniture made from flesh, isn’t that just a fun idea?

Now, a more skeptical reader may think “Diana, why manipulate a living creature into the shape of a table when you could simply...buy a table?” and to that I say: Do not stand in the way of science. Also, tables are expensive.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dabbled in the creation of cultured flesh, which certainly made the whole process much easier. They were originally part of a scrapped project for creating new, fully-functioning limbs and organs in the event that I lost an arm or something like that; It was scrapped simply because I don’t lose limbs all that often. Besides, cybernetic replacements are just all the rage today! If I have to lose an arm, I’d at least want a new one that can shoot fun death lasers.

Sidenote: Back in my corporate-mad-science days, I had a colleague who was all in with cybernetics, just an absolute Ship of Theseus situation. Practically every other week, they’d be there in the breakroom showing off a new mechanical replacement, or another feature built into what they already had.

Of course, I fully support the further improvements of cybernetics, but at some point you just start running out of ideas and end up making new, worse problems.

Here’s a fun example: They had modified their left hand and forearm (which had been completely mechanical long before I even met them) to switch out their hand for a cup-holder with a press of the button. It seemed all well and good for a few days, until they inevitably spilled their generic-diet-soda all over themself, which ended up jamming that button. (also probably caused the whole thing to short out, now that I think about it...)

They were left-handed. They had effectively lost all use of their dominant hand until they managed to fix it. Humans already have built-in cup holders, they’re called HANDS.

Such is life. Other than the whole cybernetics over-complication thing, they were a nice enough person overall. They always brought the most delicious snickerdoodles to company potlucks; it’s a shame I never asked them for the recipe.

Hope the built-in milk frother in your index finger stopped malfunctioning, Dr. Kettlefire! :)

I’ve never understood why some consider the process of synthesizing a human (or any creature) to be so daunting. I mean, there’s nothing special about the human body that couldn’t be copied with the right materials. Put together all the right ingredients, and a body is perfectly easy to replicate. Like snickerdoodles! :D

I’m not a monster; I didn’t want to make this flesh furniture entirely sentient, but it defeats the point if it were completely inanimate. But how self-aware is “too” self-aware? It was definitely something that stalled the project for a bit.

I eventually settled on a level of awareness that would give the full appearance of life, without much self-actualization or emotional awareness of it’s condition.

At least, that would’ve been ideal.

I eventually settled on growing the table-creature into a fun coffee table, just a little something to spice up the house. I even gave it a few synthetic eyes! From that point on, it was mainly a waiting game of making sure it received proper nutrients to grow properly and keeping it growing into the correct shape. Image ID: A photo of a doug fir bonsai in a rectangular pot. The trunk has grown to the right diagonally, before curving around to the left. End ID.

It was during this phase that my wife finally asked me what the “weird meat pile in the corner” was.

Now, I try not to keep secrets from her — communication is key in any relationship — so I told her the truth. Despite my most thorough of explanations, she refused to go anywhere near it. Surprising, really, she’s usually so open-minded when it comes to my experiments…

Asking her “but don’t you want living furniture for our living room?” did NOT go over well.

Luckily, we were able to compromise that I’d be allowed to keep the table as long as it stayed in the lab. The things we do for love.

The table was complete less than a week later, at least.

This morning I had grabbed some coffee and thought to myself, “Now that I have such a fun table in my lab, I should go stare at it.” Like a normal person. I head downstairs into my lab, where I have a nice little reading nook which the flesh table PERFECTLY compliments, put my coffee down on the table, settle down with a book about cross-breeding flowers, before then thinking to myself, “Wow, the floor is extremely wet right now.”

My table was crying.

By all means, it should not have the physical capability to cry nor the ability of feeling sad enough TO cry. Nonetheless, there it was, each of its numerous eyeballs just pouring out what I later found out was analogous to human tears. Image ID: A photo of a spruce on deadwood bonsai tree. It is nearly unrecognizable from a typical bonsai tree, with its own roots serving as its pot. End ID.

It’s important to note that the chemical makeup of human tears differ based on what triggered them. As an example, reflex tears (formed when the eye is exposed to irritants, like smoke or whatever onions have going on) contain high amounts of antibodies to protect the eye from bacteria.

Tears from extreme emotion, however, contain higher amounts of chemicals such as leu-enkephalin or adrenocorticotropic hormones. Which is what I found after a cursory test on a sample of the tears. Concerning!

It wasn’t crying when I first came down, so my best guess at the moment is that I left it’s ability to feel temperature intact. Thus, the sudden heat of my coffee mug may have triggered one of the only emotional reactions it’s even capable of: sobbing onto my lab floors, apparently.

Obviously, I’ll need to run a few more tests on the thing to figure out what’s actually going on. If I do end up making some sort of discovery, I’ll certainly keep you all updated.

I think I’m going to ask if my wife wants to bake some snickerdoodles together tonight.

Stay Curious!

- Dr. Diamond