Weird Science

Weird Science
Weird Science

Tom Furnival | 18 Mar 2008 13:59
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The bridge initially forms due to electrostatic charges. The electric field then rearranges the molecules of the water to form a highly ordered microstructure, which holds the bridge in place.

Biology

Glow-in-the-Dark Cats
South Korean scientists have been tinkering with feline genes, and with the highly controversial science of cloning.

They've cloned a cat whose altered skin cells manufacture a fluorescent protein, meaning it literally glows in the dark. The cat's kittens are almost a year old now, and they, too, are glowing nicely.

The ethical debate rages on about the pros and cons of such treatments. Scientists proudly state that this breakthrough will help them create cures for some 250 genetic diseases suffered by both cats and humans. However, many people think this is a step in the wrong direction; by "playing God" we might be devaluing unique and individual life.

The arguments for and against cloning have been raging for years now. The main points against cloning are as follows:

  • A large percentage of cloning attempts fail. It took 277 attempts to clone Dolly the sheep. That means 277 semi-created creatures, which raises question about the nature of half-formed souls for various religions.
  • Many clones have genetic defects amplified, as Dolly the sheep proved. Dolly had severe respiratory problems and developed arthritis at a very young age.
  • Cloning would stop genetic advancements in a species because natural selection would no longer take place.

On the other hand, the points in favor of cloning include:

  • Curing genetic and previously incurable diseases is a good thing.
  • Cloning could help biologists further their understanding of the intricacies of the human body.
  • If we stored the DNA of dying species, we would be able to clone them and help repopulate the world with them.

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Regardless of which side you're on, the fact we can make cats glow is pretty damn amazing, given we've only had a grasp on genetics since the mid 1800s when Mendel drew conclusions from his experiments with peas.

From My Heart and from My Hand
This is just the tip of the weird-science iceberg. Every day, in a dark lab somewhere, the real-life version of Dexter is toiling away over beakers to turn all of science on it head. Somewhere, a glow-in-the-dark cat has is teaching itself math and preparing to elevate its species above ours. And maybe, just maybe, someone's out there finding a cure for diseases that have plagued us for centuries. The best part about science is everything is just a matter of "when."

Tom Furnival is a freelance contributor to The Escapist.

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