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Comment: Re:Lesbian mothers will be able to have children (Score 1) 201

by graft (#31875190) Attached to: UK Scientists Create a Three-Parent Embryo

This is great progress, because it means that lesbian mothers will eventually be able to have children that are genetically related to both parents. This would mean that all their children are female, but they may not mind.

This is false. Male and female genetic contributions are different because of maternal and paternal imprinting - certain genes are "flagged" on or off by methylation of DNA segments, and the pattern is different in men and women. This results in a careful balance - if you used two female sets, crucial genes would appear either in 2x the necessary dose, or be completely shut off, and the fetus would not be viable. As far as I know, to date no one has managed to alter imprinting patterns to that of the other sex. Until they do, same-sex parents are not possible.

Comment: Re:Not what you think (Score 1) 201

by graft (#31875098) Attached to: UK Scientists Create a Three-Parent Embryo

Not only that, but since the mitochondrial DNA only codes for a small amount of the respiration chain -- cytochrome C oxidase, ATP synthase, and some of the core proteins of the NADH reductase complex, in most eukaryotic cells -- while the nuclear DNA codes for much of the rest of the proteins in the respiration chain, you need to have an excellent match between proteins that come from two different chunks of DNA. There's no guarantee that'll happen, and there's evidence that one of the reasons cloning has such a poor success rate and so many cloned animals die young of strange damage, is precisely because of poor matching between mitochondrial and nuclear dna products, leading to oxidative damage throughout the cell and early cell death because of leakage from the poorly-functioning respiration chain.

Man, once our genetic engineering is good enough, one of the first things we should do is migrate those mtDNA genes into the nucleus, already, and get them working under proper sexual reproduction/selection. Clean that shit up.

Comment: Re:As A Cancer Researcher... (Score 2, Interesting) 106

by graft (#31852266) Attached to: DNA Cancer Codes Cracked By International Effort
It also occurs to me that you can use this to identify specific alleles associated with increased risk of cancer. Not that genetic screening is generally very useful yet, but more maps like this will give a better idea of an individual's chance of developing specific types of cancer, maybe even associated with specific activities. E.g., "if you have these particular variants, you're much more likely to develop lung cancer, so you should smoke even less than a normal person." (I hope to GOD we (in the US) have public health insurance before this becomes widespread.)

Comment: Re:More than gene therapy and immunotherapy (Score 4, Insightful) 106

by graft (#31851742) Attached to: DNA Cancer Codes Cracked By International Effort

> I'm a bit more skeptical, given that gene therapy and immunotherapy are > still very much in their infancy at the current time

Those are not the only applications for this knowledge.

Err, to fill in that empty shell of a comment, specifically, this will hopefully generate at least a few new genes that are useful as drug targets. Anything that can make chemotherapy a bit more specific instead of just a general metabolic poison is a bonus.

Comment: Re:Hopefully they aren't too effective.. (Score 1) 347

by graft (#31828100) Attached to: MIT Researchers Harness Viruses To Split Water
My objection to your line of reasoning is that you impute value to these events at all, and assert that we should be thankful for them, somehow, or consider them beneficial, because they brought us about. But the past is in stone; it does not care if we remember it, or if it is revered. Only the future is malleable. There may one day come a season for us to die in, but I don't believe we've reached it yet; I want to die in a time of our own choosing, not one that our folly thrust upon us.

Comment: Re:Hopefully they aren't too effective.. (Score 1) 347

by graft (#31823556) Attached to: MIT Researchers Harness Viruses To Split Water
Your notions of adaptation are extremely optimistic. Life is not inevitable or omnipotent; it cannot overcome any adaptive landscape. If it could, the Moon would be teeming. It is entirely possible for extinction events to eliminate all life. It is entirely possible for us to create such an extinction event. Stop assuming that just because it can happen, life will recover, or that these events are somehow noteworthy and beneficial.

Comment: Re:Hopefully they aren't too effective.. (Score 1) 347

by graft (#31823518) Attached to: MIT Researchers Harness Viruses To Split Water

People need to get over extinctions.

Why are people lauding this dude? He's celebrating our imminent deaths. You can have your own death party, buddy. Me, I want our species to survive at least another few million years, not precipitate a mass extinction event right now.

Some useful reading.

Comment: Re:Hopefully they aren't too effective.. (Score 1) 347

by graft (#31823460) Attached to: MIT Researchers Harness Viruses To Split Water
Only someone with zero understanding of selection could make a statement like this. Natural selection is a pretty precise knife - it multiplies exponentially over generations. Even a minor selective disadvantage - a tiny fraction of a percent - results in removal of deleterious variation.

Comment: now, how many of those bugs have been fixed? (Score 3, Interesting) 244

by graft (#31814440) Attached to: In the past year, I've filed Z bug reports, where Z=
I'm a diligent bug-filer. I don't think a single bug I've ever filed has been dealt with, except by the feature being completely elided by a major software revision (e.g. KDE4). It's always mystified and annoyed me that free software projects don't make better use of the fact that their process can be completely transparent. Developers are too egotistical about their code.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 706

by graft (#31804690) Attached to: Should Kids Be Bribed To Do Well In School?

Well, surely you aren't suggesting that forcing kids to do schoolwork for no pay -- the status quo -- is somehow more likely to turn them into writers/poets/scientists than paying them to do schoolwork. So what's your alternative?

What? That's exactly what I'm suggesting - I'm saying that kids who are paid to do schoolwork are more likely to turn into drones and less likely to turn into writers/poets/scientists. That is, they will learn, "The reason I am doing this is to get money," not, "The reason I am doing this is because science/art/music/literature/philosophy/dance/woodworking/programming/math/history/writing is fun."

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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