Banner Archive

Marvel Comics Timeline
Godzilla Timeline



« Science: October 2015 | Main | Science: January 2016 »


Yeah, But Can They Make Spider Silk?

Why are scientists mad? Link

China's western Shaanxi Province is known for rugged windswept terrain and its coal and wool, but not necessarily its science. Yet at the Shaanxi Provincial Engineering and Technology Research Center for Shaanbei Cashmere Goats, scientists have just created a new kind of goat, with bigger muscles and longer hair than normal. The goats were made not by breeding but by directly manipulating animal DNA--a sign of how rapidly China has embraced a global gene-changing revolution.
CRISPR uses enzymes to precisely locate and snip out segments of DNA, much like a word-processor finding and deleting a given phrase--a process known as "gene-editing." Although it is not the first tool scientists have used to tweak DNA, it is by far more precise and cheaper than past technologies. The apparent ease of this powerful method now raises both tantalizing possibilities and pressing ethical questions.

Once the goat team began to deploy CRISPR, their progress was rapid. In September Qu and 25 other collaborating scientists in China published the details of their research in Nature's Scientific Reports. In early-stage goat embryos they had successfully deleted two genes that suppressed both hair and muscle growth. The result was 10 goat kids exhibiting both larger muscles and longer fur--designer livestock--that, so far, show no other abnormalities. "We believed gene-modified livestock will be commercialized after we demonstrate [that it] is safe," predicts Qu, who envisions this work as a simple way to boost the sale of goat meat and cashmere sweaters from Shaanxi.

I don't think there's anything safe about extra strong, hairy goats. Have none of you heard of Dr. Moreau?? And his island?? His experimentation with animals didn't go so well, did it? Do you people learn nothing from literature??? I hate mad scientists. China's going to be overrun with sheep o'death now.

Spider goats

By min | November 19, 2015, 1:41 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link

Unhatchable Eggs


The bugs to be released were not genetically modified. But they were not exactly garden-variety mosquitoes, either. The male mosquitoes were raised in a laboratory where they were infected with Wolbachia, a natural bacterium that would effectively sterilize them. When the males are released into people's backyards and mate with wild females, the resulting eggs--for reasons not yet fully understood--simply will not hatch, leading to fewer mosquitoes.
The problematic wild mosquitoes, also known as Asian tiger mosquitoes, were first introduced into the area as stowaways in shipments of bamboo from China and subsequently spread across the state. Unlike other California mosquitoes, they are potential carriers of dengue and chikungunya, two painful diseases that can be transmitted from human to human via mosquito bites.

We have these Asian tiger mosquitoes (i'm having "Africanized bees" flashbacks) in Jersey. They show up at work, too, as in inside the building. They bite me through my damned pants, the little fuckers. So, i hope they start releasing these infected male mosquitoes in my neighborhood soon. Unless instead of eggs that don't hatch, they end up producing mutant mosquitoes. That would be bad. Don't do that.

By min | November 3, 2015, 1:49 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

« Science: October 2015 | Main | Science: January 2016 »