Scientist creates Homer's tomacco
By Taha Suria
The popular television series The Simpsons has become well
known for many things, but inspiring scientists to experiment
with plants was never one of them — until now.
Inspired by the cartoon, Rob Baur, an Oregon scientist, had
several attempts fail in his quest to make ‘tomacco’;
however, his faith in the scientific legitimacy of Homer Simpson’s
endeavours remained unflinched, and eventually, he was successful
in grafting a tomato and a tobacco plant and has since managed
to grow three tomacco specimens.
“I took a class back in college in which we studied a similar
experiment, and after watching that Simpsons episode, I wanted
to see if it would work,” he explained, adding he would
never consider marketing tomacco as a product because he would
not want to advocate the use of tobacco.
“Grafting in plants is used extensively, but the new fruit
won’t have seeds,” explained George Lazerovitz, honourary
professor of plant sciences at Western.
Although preliminary tests have not confirmed the presence
of tobacco inside the ‘tomato’ itself, tobacco
is present in the leaves of the new plant.
Baur went on to say he had grown three tomaccos; one of them
was used in testing, the second was promised to the writer
from The Simpsons who wrote the episode featuring tomacco and
the third is to be sold on eBay.
When Baur was asked to give advice to young science students
who can only dream of accomplishing as much as he had with
this discovery, he simply said science was not something to
be read in a textbook and then forgotten. He went on to complain
that no one ever interviewed him because of genuine accomplishments,
such as patents he had filed in the past.
When asked if he made a habit of experimental research based
on cartoons, Baur said no. “I don’t usually try
things at home that I see on TV.”
“It’s great, now you can get your carcinogens and
vegetables at the same time,” said third-year engineering
student Phil Tomlinson.