Dear Dr. Staff: How does a zerox machine work? I asked my pappy, and he said that there is a convent of monks inside every one, and that they copy everything by hand. But it seems to me that they would get awfully cramped sitting around in there, and when I asked pappy what they ate, he said that they lived off that black powder you need to pour into the machine every now and then. But I tried a spoonful of the stuff, and it tastes really bad. He said that the monks have taken a Vow of Inedibility or something, where they promise to eat bad food for the rest of their lives. But I don't believe his story, because he's usually wrong. I went to my Uncle Smiley and asked him to explain how they work, and he said that there's a bright light that gets reflected off what you're copying, and that the black stuff sticks to where the light is reflected. But, when I was playing with the powder, it seemed to stick to everything, so I don't think my Uncle Smiley knows how it works, either. Can you explain it?
Dear Hungry Sense: Well, they're both wrong, in different ways. Monks come in abbeys, not convents. And they don't fit in zerox machines. But there is a special kind of miniaturized animal that has been especially bred to work in photocopiers. These animals, which are called copycats, eat the black powder that you put into the zerox machine. When you stick something on the glass plate, their eyes produce this bright light that shines off the paper, back on the copycat, and makes its fur fall oft onto the piece of paper that comes out of the machine. All copycats used to have black fur, since they were originally bred from a cross between pumas and fleas, but since then, scientists have been able to include color genes in the cats, enabling the production of various colors of zerox copies. If you don't feed a copycat, it goes to sleep until it smells food, so if you don't feed your copier, it will stop working. Some people don't realize how genetics is helping out their lives on an ordinary, day-to-day basis.