When 7-year-old Sophie wrote to Australia's leading science agency and asked for a dragon, we knew it was time to step up our dragon R&D program.


A mythical generator: Could the fire in Smaug’s belly power a small city?

We’ve been doing science since 1926 and we’re quite proud of what we have achieved. We’ve put polymer banknotes in your wallet, insect repellent on your limbs and Wi-Fi in your devices. But we’ve missed something.

There are no dragons.

Over the past 87 odd years we have not been able to create a dragon or dragon eggs. 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.

This came to our attention today when we received the following letter:

Hello Lovely Scientist

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


Fanmail, with a call for dragon R&D.

Last week the Scientific American hypothesised whether dragon fire would be produced by flint, gas, or rocket fuel. We already do some research in alternative fuels, so perhaps dragon fuel is a good area for us to start accelerating our dragon R&D program. Hobbit fans would have observed the amount of fire in Smaug’s belly. But how much energy could it produce? Would dragon fuel be a low emissions option?

Thanks for the fuel for thought, Sophie. We’re looking into it. In the meantime, you can always admire the brood of Daenerys Targaryen.


Sophie’s dragon.


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UPDATE: We made Sophie a dragon. Really. Check it out in our latest post, Here be 3D printed dragons.


  1. This is not how dragons are made !

    This is how a new scientist is born at 7 years of age ! You have just planted a seed and this young Sophie will be one day, just maybe, that one who discovers one of the universe’s secrets to change our world !

    Keep seeding ! We sure need it !

  2. I have not read a reply this profound or satisfying, since the editor of the New York Sun posted “yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” in 1897. What we are willing to believe in defines us.

  3. Three cheers to the Aussie scientists who took Sophie’s letter and gave it serious consideration! What a wonderful story to run around the world!! Three cheers to Sophie’s parents for caring and educating her, and making her self confident and curious enough to write her letter. I am sitting in Boston, Massachusetts and smiling. Thank you!

  4. Here’s another thought from MA from the US–you already have an Aussie Ambassador to the UN with two young girls whose mom during her life was a feminist who championed women’s rights. Seems like you got a built-in opportunity from someone on the home front who would gladly support and help you further the idea of Sophie Centers.

  5. OK, CSIRO, don’t stop there. You have a golden opportunity right now, especially since the little girl said her friends want to become scientists. Mass produce Toothless and Stuart. Use the revenue to go into a scholarship fund for girls who want to study science. Make the face Black just like she asked. Ask Sophie to be a Youth Ambassador to the firm to encourage the study of science. Sponsor a science-fair. Why hope and wait that she will go into the field of science? Be more proactive with your role in a potential future scientist. I don’t know what the education system is in Australia in terms of whether or not it is free, co-sponsored, or out- of-pocket. Irrespective, the generated funds could really be beneficial for the study of alternative fuels. Think of the dialogue you could create with children and schools. What if you had CSIRO Centers in schools or Sophie Centers that serve as little research-think tanks where children play with things scientific that perhaps turn into another great idea? It matters not from where ideas originate, it is what we do with them that matters. Let’s not read about another apology.

    PS: A picture of an eastern bearded dragon and a mallee dragon would have been great. Nothing wrong with an educational moment. Now, I have to leave your website and look for something on what you are talking about (lost reader 🙁

    [BTW: I would have put $5 into the fund via the Internet. You’d be amazed at how much you could earn for such a worthy cause]

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