Girl wants a dragon, so scientists make one

When a 7-year-old asks Australian scientists for a dragon, they first give her a sincere apology, then figure out how to send her an adorable 3D-printed winged beast.

Toothless the Dragon was created from a 3D printer, Titanium and love from scientists at CSIRO's Lab 22 in Melbourne, Australia.
Toothless the Dragon was created from a 3D printer, titanium, and love by scientists at CSIRO's Lab 22 in Melbourne, Australia. CSIRO

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization researches everything from polymer banknotes to microwave landing systems, but rarely does it venture into creating dragons. Until now.

Young Sophie Lester wrote a letter to CSIRO scientists in hopes of getting a dragon of her very own, and in the process charmed them with her request.

"Hello Lovely Scientist," the little girl wrote. "My name is Sophie and I am 7 years old. My dad told me about the scientists at the CSIRO. Would it be possible if you can make a dragon for me? I would like it if you could but if you can't thats fine. I would call it Toothless if it was a girl and if it is a boy I would name it Stuart. I would keep it in my special green grass area where there are lots of space. I would feed it raw fish and I would put a collar on it. If it got hurt I would bandage it if it hurt himself. I would play with it every weekend when there is no school. Love from Sophie."

Little did Sophie Lester know that her letter to CSIRO asking for a dragon would charm the scientists into creating her own winged-pet named Toothless.
Little did Sophie Lester know that her letter to CSIRO would charm the scientists into creating her own winged pet. CSIRO

The scientists were so moved by the little girl's letter that CSIRO responded on its blog with a very sincere apology.

"Over the past 87 odd years we have not been able to create a dragon or dragon eggs," CSIRO wrote. "We have sighted an eastern bearded dragon at one of our telescopes, observed dragonflies, and even measured body temperatures of the mallee dragon. But our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire-breathing variety. And for this Australia, we are sorry."

While the scientists continued to elaborate on whether dragon fire could be reproduced by gas or rocket fuel thanks to a recent article in Scientific American, CSIRO also said that since it researches alternative fuels, "perhaps dragon fuel is a good area for us to start accelerating our dragon R&D program."

Their apology to Sophie went viral and ended up on so many blogs that CSIRO decided to take its appreciation of the little girl's letter a step further, by making her a dragon with the aid of a 3D printer.

"We couldn't sit here and do nothing," CSIRO blogged. "After all, we promised Sophie we would look into it."

So Toothless -- named after Sophie's preferred choice for a female dragon -- was printed from titanium via a 3D printer by scientists at the CSIRO additive manufacturing facility, Lab 22, in Melbourne, Australia. The lab has also printed aerospace parts, huge insects, and biomedical implants, "so they thought a dragon was achievable," CSIRO said.

In case the scientists at CSIRO needed some guidance in how to create a dragon, Sophie Lester drew them a picture.
In case the scientists at CSIRO needed some guidance in how to create a dragon, Sophie Lester drew them a picture. CSIRO

"Being that electron beams were used to 3D-print her, we are certainly glad she didn't come out breathing them... instead of fire," Chad Henry, an additive manufacturing operations manager, told the CSIRO blog. "Titanium is super strong and lightweight, so Toothless will be a very capable flyer."

Toothless is currently on her way to Sophie Lester's home, now proving that scientists can truly create anything -- even dragons for little girls.

 

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