Think of the words “test tube”--what images spring to mind? Chemistry class, scientific breakthroughs, cures for disease... How about bacon? No? Well, scientists in the Netherlands have been able to grow pork muscle cells in a petri dish--literally, test tube meat.

The research team took on a challenge posed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which stated it will pay $1 million to anyone who can produce large amounts of test tube meat at a competitive market price by 2012.

Aside from the idea of sparing animals from being slaughtered by growing meat in the lab for human consumption, proponents of test tube meat also cite the belief that not requiring animals to be raised for slaughter would substantially reduce greenhouse gases such as methane, as well as elevate the possibility of creating enough food to end world hunger.

No one can say how high the actual market will be for test tube meat, especially since no one has tasted it yet (the research team was forbidden to eat their creation by lab guidelines). But, the idea of growing all the food you need in the lab is so Star Trek I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about this topic.