Pretty much every single person who read or saw Jurassic Park has spent a minute or a month’s worth of hours wondering if (hoping that?) there was any way the blood-in-the-bug-in-the-amber trick could be done in reality, or might inspire a similar real-world scenario.
NEIN. Your favorite existence-defining discipline, science, has just crushed your secret dream. According to Nature (the magazine about nature!), DNA itself has a half-life of only 521 years, and even under the most ideal of conditions for preservation, no viable bits of the building blocks of life could survive longer than about 6.8 million years. That’s a decimal point placement and an order of magnitude short of the age of dinosaurs, roughly 65 million years ago.
So. Precursor to the shrew? Absolutely. Raptors? Sorry, no.
Last week, a few of the best kind of nerds — the kind that apply their respective staggering intellects to exploring the nature of our physical universe rather than to, say, creating supremely funny doctored jpegs — made a mind-blowing announcement. These finest of minds might have kind of, sort of, maybe uncovered evidence that the Holy Grail of physics, the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle,” may exist.
(I understand that’s a lot of qualifiers. Bear with me.)
Naturally, the Internet erupted in praise, commentary, consideration and supremely funny doctored jpegs. It also manifested a surprising amount of commentary from Christians inspired by the news to, in somehow typically un-Christian fashion, tell atheists to suck it.
Because they assumed the “God particle” has something to do with proving the existence of God.
Read more at Creative Loafing …
Last weekend, UK newspaper the Daily Mail published an article about evolutionary biologists altering the DNA of chicken embryos so that the embryos developed alligator-like snouts instead of beaks. The scientists suppose chickens are the evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs, and that chickens once had reptilian snouts millions of years in the past.
Obviously, the first question any God-fearing American conservative should ask upon reading about scientists screwing around with DNA in order to put alligator snouts on chickens is, “Why the hell do we need chickens with alligator snouts?” After all, the Bible explicitly forbids fooling around with the magic building blocks of human life-it’s in there with the shit about Jesus being Caucasian and the nobility of amassing personal wealth, if you want it to be hard enough.
The Mail story explains this reverse engineering could lead to “improving” contemporary species so they’ll be better suited to changing climates and environments, as well as the usual claims about such research leading to invaluable advances in medical science. In an opinion column on CNN.com, renowned paleontologist Jack Horner also suggests this and other experiments might be used to educate the general public in evolutionary processes.
Of course, none of those is the real reason why we’re making ChickenGators.
The real reason why we’re making ChickenGators is this: Continue reading
Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s wonderfully geeky Futurama returned with new episodes a few weeks back after a seven-year absence, and the animated sci-fi sitcom’s reappearance couldn’t have been more timely. Because at its core, underneath the absurdity and cutting social satire, Futurama celebrates, and illustrates the basic need for, one of America’s most enduring and necessary traditions:
Not the kind of Mad Science the Beastie Boys dropped all over Paul’s Boutique, but the kind of Mad Science that only emerges when brilliant minds and staggering arrogance combine in an attempt to control forces obviously and utterly beyond human comprehension. The kind of Mad Science that comes from not just wondering what invisible principles govern the behavior of the universe, but also suspecting that, could one figure it out, one might be able to totally own that shit.
Read the rest at Creative Loafing …