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Pondering PigDuck

 Nordic Special

Fiction’s Most Realistic Vision of Our Astrobiological Future?
Professor Mark Brake
Visionary science writer Sir Arthur C Clarke, author of more than 100 books, died recently. Professor Mark Brake critically assess the science and culture of arguably his greatest work, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Life Underground
Professor Mark Brake
Notes on Life Underground: Journey to the center of the Earth through the eyes of Nordic science fiction writer, Ludvig Holberg.

Astrobiology in a Cold Climate: The Scandinavian Connection
Martin Griffiths
Astrobiology in a Cold Climate: The Scandinavian Connection.

Pondering PigDuck
Leslie Mullen
“That is the Pig Duck. It is a Work of Art”

Astrobiology Rap
Jonathan Chase
“The ‘Astrobiology’ rap was written by Jon for the Astrobiology Magazine European Edition (AMEE). ”

Summary: The father of the PigDuck, or Posankka, is Alvar Gullichsen, a local artist. He has described his creation as a hybrid of a rubber duck and a marzipan pig. The Posankka is meant to be both a criticism of modern gene technology, and a representation of the supposed conflict between popular culture and high culture.

Pondering PigDuck

By Leslie Mullen

“That is the Pig Duck.  It is a Work of Art.”

Pig Duck

What is that large pink creature on the side of the road?

Photo: Carl Pilcher

This is was the response of a Türkü native to our question, “What is that large pink creature on the side of the road?” 

The father of the PigDuck, or Posankka, is Alvar Gullichsen, a local artist.  He has described his creation as a hybrid of a rubber duck and a marzipan pig.  The Posankka is meant to be both a criticism of modern gene technology, and a representation of the supposed conflict between popular culture and high culture.  Originally designed to float in the Port of Türkü, in 1999 it was placed in its current location next to a highway between the Aurajoki river and the bridge of Hämeentie.  Although controversial (not everyone in Finland loves the artwork), it has become an unofficial mascot of the city of Tükü.  You can even purchase Posankka post cards in local gift shops.

Always eager to investigate strange new life forms, I approached the Posankka with Astrobiology Magazine’s Executive Editor Helen Matsos.  Our analysis confirmed it has a very hard but smooth outer dermal layer that has the hue of cotton candy.  The Posankka was not active, and did not even respond to a tug of its curly tail.  This sluggishness may be due to its unusually large mass – a size rarely seen in avian-porcine hybrids.  The Posankka kept its blue eyes firmly fixed on the grey skies of Finland, perhaps hoping to someday catch a glimpse of other PigDucks in flight.

Pig Duck

PigDuck provided a constant reminder that for all of Astrobiology’s focus on life elsewhere in the universe, sometimes the strangest and most fascinating discoveries can still be made here on Earth.

Photo: Carl Pilcher

We were in Türkü that cool October day to attend the 7th meeting of the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA).  The 2007 meeting was held at the University of Türkü’s Educarium, and the local organizers made sure all those who attended received a warm Finnish welcome (including a traditional smoke sauna that was nothing short of miraculous). Many of the stories that appear in this magazine originated at this meeting. Each day as we walked back and forth between the Educarium and the closest hotel – Holiday Club Caribia, which added a Caribbean jive to the general atmosphere of whimsy – there was always that large but silent presence, looming pinkly in the distance.  In a sense, PigDuck provided a constant reminder that for all of Astrobiology’s focus on life elsewhere in the universe, sometimes the strangest and most fascinating discoveries can still be made here on Earth.

 

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