Expire in the Sky

Once upon a time, I read some newspaper articles about a Gates Foundation anti-malaria project with a novel twist: it was targeting the mosquitoes that carried the disease.

Literally targeting them. With lasers.

Cameras searched for the specific wingbeat frequency of the offending breed of mosquito, triangulated the position, and sent that data to the lasers, which cleared the area of those mosquitoes, and only those mosquitoes, quite efficiently. The not-yet-named lead scientist on the project was quoted as terming the system a “weapon of mosquito destruction,” a bit of wordplay that struck me as right up the alley of some folks I knew.

Eventually, further down the article, this turned out to be because said lead scientist was someone I knew: filker and actual rocket scientist Jordin Kare.

At that point this filk became necessary.

(Alas, Jordin left the project after the initial proof-of-concept trial, and it didn’t move any further forward after that. Fortunately, I did get to play this for him before his death in 2017. The “Star Wars”/Strategic Defense Initiative reference in the second verse springs from confusion in one article that the antimosquito system was SDI derived. The tech itself was generally off-the-shelf stuff — details are here in Jordin’s 2010 article for IEEE Spectrum — but one of his collaborators, Lowell Wood, had worked on SDI. The bridge tune is the one added by Kristoph Klover for the album To Touch the Sky.)

Words: Joseph Abbott
Music: “Fire in the Sky,” Jordin Kare / bridge by Kristoph Klover

Prometheus, they say, brought God’s fire down to man
And we’ve caught it, tamed it, trained it to kill all the pests we can
Now we’re goin’ after skeeters, just to zap ’em in the eye
Torn asunder ‘cross the land, bugs expire in the sky

Well, they put us skunks to work back in 1981
“If you want to shoot down nukes,” we said, “you’ll need a bigger gun”
We could tell you if we did it, but then you’d have to die
But now we’re working for a charity, shooting bugs down from the sky

BRIDGE: I dreamed last night
Of a little boy’s first bug bite
Swelled over me
Can’t forget how itchy it could be
I want mosquitoes to fry
I’ll pursue them ’til I die
Make them expire in the sky
Expire in the sky!

Now the rest is up to us, there’s mosquitoes to be slain
As we turn our lasers skyward, and watch bug bits fall like rain
Spread the word to all bloodsuckers — time for you to say goodbye
‘Cause we’re gonna clear the lot with a zapper turned on high!

Yes, we’re gonna clear the lot with a zapper turned on high
Not much longer ’til they die
They’ll expire in the sky — expire in the sky!

This is the bio am I doing this right? Probably not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *