Creatures avoiding planks - "After around a thousand generations of training, the agents became half decent at avoiding planks. Please see the final result in this demo." [more inside]
the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the nation's first genetically altered animal -- a salmon engineered to grow twice as fast as its natural counterpart.
...the implication is clear: If a human being could be engineered to have the positive version of each causal variant, they might exhibit cognitive ability which is roughly 100 standard deviations above average. This corresponds to more than 1,000 IQ points.
From toygers to GloFish This author says harm to the animals and risk to the environment are more important factors than means the of modifying an animal's appearance. So "docking" the tail of a horse or dog is worse than making a GMO pet. Surprise, genetically modified GloFish are already on sale in pet stores. (Previously.)
FDA weighs risks of 3-person embryo fertilization, making "designer babies". This is explored with the goal of preventing mothers from passing on debilitating genetic diseases to their children. Daily Mail says 30 GM human babies have already been born in the United states. Half of them developed defects so the FDA stepped in.
Unleashing Genetic Algorithms on the iOS 7 Icon - In the pursuit of something just a bit tighter than Marc Edwards' superellipse approximation, Mike Swanson applies genetic algorithms to the task of making a better button-making script.
Imagine you've been diagnosed with an incurable genetic disease and you are told you will not only lose your ability to walk and move your arms, but you will die between now and the next 18 months. What would you do? My name is Avery Lynn Canahuati, I'm almost 5 months old, and this has become my reality. [more inside]
"Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an extremely rare disease of the connective tissue. A mutation of the body's repair mechanism causes fibrous tissue (including muscle, tendon, and ligament) to be ossified when damaged. In many cases, injuries can cause joints to become permanently frozen in place. Surgical removal of the extra bone growths has been shown to cause the body to "repair" the affected area with more bone."^ Detailed in an article from The Atlantic, February 1998. Part 1. Part 2. [more inside]
It is apparent to me that Faith does have a brain, despite what the doctors have said. Even though it is generally believed that anencephalic babies are blind, deaf, and cannot feel touch or think... I don't believe that. Not at all. So little is known about the human brain and the only one who really knows what's going on is God. I truly believe that Faith can think and can feel my touch and hear my voice. I can't prove it but I feel like I just know. [images may be disturbing]
"Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others’. This, according to the theory, increases a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later on, as well as mood problems like bipolar disorder and depression."
I know what you're thinking. What could be better than a below-low-budget sci-fi/horror hypersexualized movie based off of a musical, with a playwright who also decided to star in both stage and screen adaptations? Well, then, what if we up the ante! It's also a socially-conscious cyberpunk movie musical, written, directed, scored and costumed by people in 2008 who have decided that 1996 is as far as the future goes, thanks... so it's also a goth/raver socially conscious cyberpunk movie musical, complete with blue-streaked hair, muppet-fur and clunky vinyl boots! No? We need to aim higher to do better? Well, here comes the kicker, the one element that will immortalize this film: Starring Paris Hilton. Singing. In S&M gear. And a wig. Doing drugs. Lo, I bring you REPO! The Genetic Opera! (The film.) NSFW or self respect.
While many ailments are considered terrifying, Lesch-Nyhan is the stuff of nightmares. An extremely rare genetic neurological disorder with no cure, it often compels its victims to self-mutilate, even when they understand that doing so causes them harm. Richard Preston used Lesch-Nyhan as a plot device in his best-selling thriller The Cobra Event, and went on to write a fascinating article about the disease, its sufferers, and its implications for human behavior in the New Yorker. [PDF]. [more inside]
Heated controversy over cousin marriages in Britain. The Guardian argues it's fine, legal in the UK for centuries, done by Darwin, HG Wells and Queen Victoria; and a 2002 study (prev) found little increased risk. But in Bradford, England, where half of babies born are to ethnically Pakistani parents, cousin marriage is very common -- as high as 70% in that community. Bradford, with 1% of British population, has 70 youths with terminal disorders which lead to dementia-type illnesses – eight per cent of the UK total. Should the government ban cousin marriage? Encourage genetic testing? Or keep its mouth shut? [more inside]
Williams syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by distinctively "elfin" facial features, an uncanny ability to socialize with strangers, and, often, enhanced musical abilities.
A 2007 Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough in genetics may hold the key to eliminating Trichotillomania: the gene Hoxb8 governs grooming behavior in mammals.
How to Sequence a Genome [Flash. H/T to Jay]. Visualization of the process of genetic sequencing. Posted on the Nova website in conjunction with their show, Cracking the Code of Life, hosted by Robert Krulwich [Wiki].
Peter Watts on Vampire Domestication (embedded Flash video, must click to start). The mythical corporation FizerPharm ("Trust. Profit. Deniability.") share their detailed research into the evolution and possible commercial applications of Homo sapiens whedonum. You will learn: How and why the "crucifix glitch" came about. Why you should run from a blushing vampire. How many kilograms of human are needed to make one kilogram of vampire. How vampires resemble two year old humans, domestic shorthaired cats, and lungfish. And why "survival of the fittest" should be reconceptualized as "survival of the least inadequate". [more inside]
The Sole Survivor — Allen Boyd [Real Player interview] is the sixth and last surviving member of his family: the other five committed suicide. Is suicide genetic?
Say Hello to the all New Genpets from Bio.Genica! The Genpets are Pre-Packaged, Bioengineered pets implemented today!
Get A-Life - an interesting read on artificial life and evolutionary computation, from the game of life (playable applet), through core wars, tierra and on to genetic programming. This approach has recently borne fruit to genetic programming pioneer and inventor of the scratchcard, John Koza, who last year patented his invention machine, actually a 1000 machine beowulf cluster running his software, which has itself created several inventions which have been granted patents. [See also: BBC Biotopia artificial life experiment, another odd BBC evolution game, Artificial Life Possibilities: A Star Trek Perspective]
Everyone knows big business does things better than nature, god and everything else. Not everyone agrees though. The Future of Food (1hr 29 mins) has the nerve to criticize Monsanto for simply protecting its own rightfully acquired genetic property from thieving farmers. And why do they steel it? Because it’s good for you and it’s going to save the world. (warning: glossy corporate brochure in pdf format).
A Kurdish family in Turkey can only walk on all fours. Some claim that their genetic defects have led to a sort of "backward evolution." An upcoming BBC documentary (pdf) will share their story.
20,000 genes and splices: the Colonel's Secret Recipe revealed! Even the fanciest chickens won't be able to ignore their genetic cousins now.
DNA profiling may be a complex issue, but whatever your take, go ahead and try your hand at genetic sleuthing with this spiffy flash interactive.
"Jody Has Two Daddies" -- The literal remix. Scientists are making egg cells now, raising the (eventual) possibility of one guy providing the genetic material to raise a crop of eggs, while the other guy provides the crop of sperm (no extra work necessary). Just add one surrogate mother and there you have it: Yet another fundamentalist nightmare, in cute infant "Adam and Steve" form.
Cloned Cat Doesn't look and behave like the original cat.Public perception of cloning is clone=original, but we have the proof it isn't always true. Isn't that the proof complex systems doesn't always work like we want, so it'd better to slow down the marketing of genetic engineered food ?
Is RNAi the future therapeutic approach for tackling everything from AIDS to cancer. Already it is being touted as a molecular biological panacea. A lot of research has been carried out in vitro , just those crucial human trials to go.
What the law show say about cloning. Francis Fukuyama and Robert Wright, who have written about technology and "societal evolution", discuss the pros and cons of genetic engineering. This is not a discussion about the finer points of technology, but rather the philosophical implications of moving forward.
Why Genetic Engineering Is So Dangerous Environmentalist/biologist Barry Commoner's essay in the February issue of Harper's magazine warns about the unknown dangers of genetic engineering. "...billions of transgenic plants are now being grown with only the most rudimentary knowledge about the resulting changes in their composition. Without detailed, ongoing analyses of the transgenic crops, there is no way of knowing what hazardous consequences may arise. But, given the failure of the Central Dogma, there is no assurance that they will not. The genetically engineered crops now being grown represent a huge uncontrolled experiment; its outcome is inherently unpredictable. Our project is designed to help develop effective public understanding of the dangerous implications of this critical predicament." He asserts that the "Central Dogma", the basis for the Human Genome Project, was known to be flawed prior to the inception of the $3 billion program. Should we be amused/impressed or very worried when we read about pig/spinach crosses and the like? Related article here.
Genetic engineering leaves mice impervious to pain. By removing a protein called "DREAM", scientists were able to create rodents that didn't mind extreme heat, pressure and inflammation. This could provide hope for those suffering, or a strange removal from the experience of living, and classic human traits like bravery, strength, volition, and empathy, depending on your view.
Nicote-free cigarette from genetically modified tobacco Apparently a company has developed it and they're running taste-tests too, in stores soon. Looks fine for wannabe smoke quitters. You found another way to get rid of cigs ?
Finally, some genetic modification I can sink my teeth into! Wired reports this morning that an Australian researcher has identified the genetic characteristics for "tenderness" and "toughness" in cow muscle tissue. Aussie cattle ranchers are already gearing up to produce animals that result in more tender, juicier beef. I'm drooling already.