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By Joel Klebanoff

Chew on This

File this under "only in Canada." Three researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton (for the benefit of non-Canadians, that's in the Canadian province of Alberta; Canada appears on maps as a rather big blob sitting on top of the U.S.) have filed a patent for a technology that can stimulate the re-growth of human teeth after they've been lost.

That's not the "only in Canada" part. What was the subtitle on the front-page article that reported this news in the June 28, 2006, issue of The Globe and Mail, which is self-described as "Canada's National Newspaper?" It was "Could this device change the face of hockey?" The article was accompanied on page one by six pictures of famous hockey players proudly displaying their missing teeth. The lead paragraph described an incident in a hockey game when a player lost a tooth. The second paragraph simply suggested that there might soon be a solution to hockey-induced tooth loss problems. It wasn't until the third paragraph that the body copy mentioned the new technology.

Do you think that maybe we're a wee bit too hockey-obsessed in Canada? Here's an ingenious technology that could be of tremendous benefit to anyone who's lost a tooth, regardless of how it happened. What's more, the researchers also think that the technology might be able to be adapted to help regenerate other bones. Yet the most important use for this technology that The Globe and Mail could think of is the regeneration of hockey players' bashed-out teeth.

If diligent Canadian scientists remain particularly committed to their work, the following are some articles I expect to see in Canadian newspapers soon:

Beer Guzzling Worry Eradicated

Worried about your beer belly (for those who speak Canadian, it's also known as a "Molson muscle")? Fret no more. Scientists at Coboconk University, situated in a leafy suburb of Coboconk, Ontario, have found a way for you to down your regular full case of brew (Canadian translation: a two-four) without worrying about eventually being mistaken for a beached whale.

The Coboconk researchers have developed a once-a-day pill that adjusts your metabolism such that you will burn off exactly the number of calories you take in, hence no more Molson muscle. You will, however, still be prone to sclerosis of the liver and to regularly making a complete ass of yourself. Such is life.

The researchers went on to say that their pill works no matter what type of food or drink you consume, and it improves your body's uptake of nutrients at the same time. Big deal.

Physicists Increase Donut Shop Density

Physicists at the Witless Advanced Physics Institute in Witless Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, announced today that they have found a solution to the great Canadian conundrum: How can you cram more than four donut and/or coffee shops on the corners of every intersection? The scientists showed a working prototype of their new "negative positron antimatter ion generator," which allows an infinite number of objects to occupy the same physical space, with no interference among objects. The physicists also demonstrated another newly invented gadget, the "personal atomic phase shifter," which will allow anyone to enter any of the donut or coffee shops that simultaneously occupy the same street corner.

It has been reported that the physicists stated that their two inventions can also be used to totally eliminate world hunger by allowing a farmer to grow an infinite amount of food on a single, small plot of land. Your loyal reporter cannot personally confirm that the claim was indeed made as I got bored at that point in the press conference and went out for a donut.

Canadian-American Language Discrepancies Rectified

How often has this happened to you? You, a lifelong Canadian, are talking to Americans, but you have trouble understanding what they are saying as they mispronounce words like "foyer," "process," and "schedule." And they have no idea that you are talking about a sofa when you use the word "chesterfield." Your troubles are over. A cross-discipline team of linguistics, computer science, and engineering graduate students at Stella Toosh University in Fannystelle, Manitoba, have developed a gizmo that is no bigger than the smallest hearing aid. When you place it in your ear, it automatically and immediately translates from and to Canadian and American English.

There is a rather cute angle to this story. The inventors got the idea for their gadget from Douglas Adams' Babel fish, the fictional creature in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that, when placed in someone's ear, acts as a universal translator. It seems that the graduate students' invention bears more than a passing resemblance to Babel fish as it too can instantly translate not only between Canadian and American English (obviously its most important use), but also between any language pair on the planet. The inventors gushed about the potential for unfettered global communications. Yada, yada, yada.

Scientists Cure Winter Hair Misery

Scientists at the Frozen Tundra Institute of Applied Molecular Physics (FTIAMP), located in Repulse Bay in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, have discovered a cure for that quintessentially Canadian affliction, toque-head. All Canadians are familiar with and dread this most serious of wintertime problems, which manifests itself as hair that takes on a life of its own after the sufferer has worn a toque (sometimes spelled tuque) for anything longer than a few minutes.

Up until now, the only remedy was to thoroughly soak your head and then brush your hair as usual, but the scientists at FTIAMP have found a better solution. Their Molecular Reorganizer rearranges the molecules in your hair to create any hairdo you like, thereby eliminating the flat spots, ridges, and fluffed up sections of hair that are so common to toque-head sufferers.

When asked what benefits their new gizmo offers over the traditional wash and brush remedy, the scientists mentioned that their cure works almost instantly, unlike the lengthy grooming process of old. As an aside, it should be noted that, because their invention reorganizes matter at the molecular level, it can also be used as a foolproof way to remove all cancer cells from a body while leaving healthy cells untouched.

Love in a Canoe Made Safe

Researchers at Tabanidae Technical College (TTC) in Horsefly, British Columbia, vehemently deny that they were inspired by the famous quote "a Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe" from that late chronicler of all things Canadian, Pierre Berton. However, it's hard to believe that those words didn't influence them in some way. Three professors at TTC have invented a material that can be used to make canoes that won't tip when you undertake vigorous canoe-bound activity.

This revolutionary material can detect the shifting of weight and instantly realign its atoms, adding more weight to the rising side in order to self-right the canoe. The miraculous material has the added benefit of being self-healing. It coalesces immediately to seal holes before more than a few drops of water enter the canoe.

The scientists also mentioned that this material can be used to construct a vessel of any size and shape, thus making it possible to totally eliminate all maritime accidents…as if anybody cares.

This article originally appeared as part of a weekly series of "Tech Tirades" in MC TNT from MC Press Online. The first year's worth of Tech Tirades does not appear here. Instead, you can find them in BYTE-ing Satire.

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