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Comment Could have been... (Score 1) 186

Steve Buscemi did an interview about a location shoot at a prison. He remarked that the warden even gave permission for some of the inmates to be extras. Steve said that the prisoners were all excited to meet him and they all told him that Con Air was there favorite movie, Garland Greene was their favorite character, and that Con Air was shown fairly often on movie night. He expressed his disbelief that they'd ever show that in a prison.

Comment Nigeria: 33.7 deaths / 100k (Score 2) 322

From TFA:

In a surprising number of countries, not knowing how to drive is no hindrance to obtaining a driver’s license or getting behind the wheel. In Nigeria, the Federal Road Safety Commission only recently made it compulsory for new drivers to take driving lessons and pass a test before obtaining a license; in the past you could simply buy a license.

The free market at work!

Comment Re:Suggestion List (Score 1) 183

Exactly. If a life saving drug can only have 20 years of patent protection, why would a mashup novel of Jane Austen and zombie pulp be entitled to 70+ years of copyright protection? Is it because the life saving drug is essential to the general well-being of society and the novel is not? If so, then the novel does not need such lengthy protection since it clearly is not as important.

*I realize we are comparing patents and copyright, but I don't see a reason not to look broadly when determining what a reasonable length of protection is for a creation, whether a technological invention or a created work.

Comment Re:wait, what? (Score 3, Interesting) 204

This has been possible for decades. Short and simplified answer to "how":

1. Put the gene of interest (e.g., Bea's variant) into mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) in place of the "normal" (wild type) allele.*
2. Make a female mouse super-ovulate and harvest eggs.
3. Transfer nucleus of engineered mESCs into denucleated eggs.
4. Allow re-nucleated eggs to undergo initial cleavage events in vitro. (These are effectively clones, but with one genetic change.)
5. Take best developing clones and implant into pseudo-pregnant female, ala IVF.
6. Profit!

*In the case of a knock-in (adding or replacing a gene), you need to use vectors that will insert in place of an existing "normal" gene, "knocking in" a mutant or variant. In the case of a knock out, you can either make a copy that doesn't transcribe into mRNA or just use the flanking DNA sequences without the gene you want to remove.

Comment Re:Origin (Score 2) 204

The "anti-science, reactionary attitude" must be a part of human nature. Early examples include Icarus, Prometheus, the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, etc. We seems to love cautionary tales, and somehow an achievement or advancement based on science or engineering (sometimes indistinguishable from magic) is at the heart of many of them. They stem from asking, "What if someone could do this, or have this power?" For some reason, thoughts turn negative such that the outcome must be bad, because it can't always be good. Right?

As for the the heroes relying more on strength than intellect, that is interesting. Perhaps nerds like them because they think, "I am already smart, so if I were strong as well I'd be a real hero." Or maybe, they think about how bigger stronger bullies use strength, against which their intellect usually does little good, and project that in a role-reversing fashion.

Anyway, you raise interesting points about archetypes in literature spanning millenia.

Comment Re:Half life of DNA is 521 years... (Score 2) 190

The half life of all DNA is 521 years. What kind of 2-bit "scientists" are these that think they can clone an animal that died 10,000 years ago?

If you read your own reference, you will see that the researchers believe they could recover sequences as old as 1.5 million years. Granted, "sequence" is not the same as "genome", but "10,000 years" is not the same as "500,000 years" (current record). So this seems reasonable to carry out.

Remember, in this case a half life denotes whole vs. broken sequences. You don't need unbroken DNA to sequence it. Remember, one of the first things they will do with the fragmented DNA is create a library, so they will have a renewable supply of every recoverable fragment.

Comment Hunting for science! (Score 3, Interesting) 190

There is obviously some money for the research, and a zoo would bring in enough revenue to help offset research costs, but how much do you think someone might bid to be the first person in 10,000 years to hunt and kill a woolly mammoth? $20M? $50M? That would go a long way in funding further research. Even better: to do so with stone age weapons.

The contract could stipulate that the researchers still own the carcass, and therefore could profit from auctioning the hide or the ivory. Of course, it would be a long time after cloning until such an endeavor was even worthwhile.

Comment 6 years? Not really. (Score 3, Insightful) 130

Human applications are expected within six years.

Ha ha ha no. Sure, perhaps 6 years until the first Phase II clinical trials report safety and proof of concept efficacy. But 6 years until you can go to a clinic and have this done? No way. Drug development takes about a decade.

But this does sound like an interesting approach.

Comment Re:What does "comprehensive" mean? (Score 1) 142

What he is saying is that they will review all of copyright law, from infringement to fair use, to length of copyright and ownership. All aspects will be reviewed, within the context of modern technology.

There is no direct mention of what he believes or what he might recommend for revisions.

Submission + - Human stem cells used to heal mouse brains

drunken_boxer777 writes: Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a method to guide human embryonic stem cell (hESC) differentiation to heal damaged mouse brains. Not only were the hESC-derived neurons capable of forming synaptic connections, they were able to correct memory and learning deficits. The article has a paywall (abstract here), but a well-written summary can be found here.

Cue the Pinky and the Brain jokes...

Comment Re:How do they measure that? (Score 1) 82

I don't know how strong your biology, specifically genetics, background is, but they do explain how they established the rate of change (the second paragraph under the heading "The slowly evolving coelacanth"). I will try to keep my explanation of that second paragraph succinct and simplified, so it might not satisfy your curiosity. But, you can also consult the methods, which are in a linked PDF document (bottom of page 8, through to page 10).

Due to random copying errors during DNA replication, a base pair substitution can occur in a gene. The rate at which these substitutions occurs in a population is relatively fixed, and low. These mutations accumulate over time in a population. If you compare the sequence differences between two species you can estimate how long ago they diverged based on the mutation rate.

The authors compared the degree of difference between the coelacanth genome and the genomes of three cartilaginous fishes. They did the same for the lungfish, chicken, and mammalian genomes. Now look at Figure 1. The ancestor of the coelacanth, lungfish, chicken, and mammals diverged from the ancestor of the cartilaginous fishes at the same time. Therefore, if the coelacanth et al. genomes evolved at the same rate, the degree of difference from the genomes of the cartilaginous fishes should be the same. It is not: the rate of divergence is lower for the coelacanth.

Comment Re:non-toxic? (Score 1) 427

I wholeheartedly agree.

I also look at it this way: Politicians, and certainly quite a few of our citizens, are willing to send troops and national guardsmen overseas to fight and die, willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom. However, why can't the citizenry do the same (potentially sacrifice their lives through fewer security measures at airports) in exchange for freedom (no invasion of privacy by backscatter, TSA, restrictions on liquids, etc)?

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