RIPLEY, Wyoming -- By fiddling with one gene, scientists have discovered they can increase the size of brains in mice. The process, which comes at the expense of the sanity of no less than 34 scientists, is being applauded by some and condemned by others.
Among the "some" are the 10 remaining sane scientists from the three-year-old project. "I am very happy not to have lost my mind with this project," said one scientist. "It was difficult making a case for staying up all of those hours just to be able to make a mouse's brain larger. My children are happy, too, that I will still be able to tell my right foot from my left."
Some of the now-demented scientists from the project are experiencing mental aftershocks from the intensity of the work. Five believe they are vegetarians, seven are given to uncontrollable urges to toss walnuts at violins and 16 have seizures when watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
Still, the sane group believes it was all worth it. "We may now be able to learn how to make the human brain larger, which should improve the quality of politicians and hockey players," said one.
The mice used in the experiments all had larger brains as a result of the work and some developed intelligence and culture. "One of them," said a scientist who just escaped insanity during the final hours of work, "began to build a replica of a Venice canal and another started a painting by Van Gogh in oils. We were examining why the brain gets bigger in evolution. Now we know it has nothing to do with the size of the skull. A brain can actually grow larger than a skull, making the person extremely intelligent, though horrific to look at."
The key turned out to be specific, not general, proteins found in tissues throughout the body, except for elbow muscles. Some proteins trigger cell division, while others corrupt a person's ability to squeeze a golf ball and experience pleasure.
Proteins in the cerebral cortex, better known as gray matter, have been impossible to pronounce, even by top scientists. But since human brains have 1,000 times more protein than mice, their penchant for breakfast cereal remains a mystery and a product of a small brain.
Many people have extra gray matter, which extends the brain but stops it from growing to the size of a striped beach ball. Mouse brains can now grow to the size of a grapefruit, proving that mentally retarded people are less apt to drive a tractor into quicksand than was previously thought.
Those "others" who protested the experiments, claimed that mice with larger brains would try to take over the world, causing an imbalance in the manufacture of cheese that could make the stock market collapse.
Also, some religious leaders called for the experiments to be stopped because "we don't want any progress to disprove what we believe the Bible tells us" and "mice are meant to be lowly, dirty, disgusting, boneless creatures that represent cowardice."