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Distributed Dirt Digging for Life-Extension Research 31

ReasonAtFightAging writes "When was the last time you really looked down at the ground you walk upon? The soil from your backyard - or the next street over, or a nearby graveyard, or the park across the way - could contain the key to advancing real anti-aging science: bacterial enzymes capable of repairing biochemical damage that accumulates with time and leads to age-related disease. So the dirt you stand on could contain a scientific breakthrough, and scientists want you — all of you, all around the world — to send a sample for analysis! One of the funding organizers notes: 'We're working hard to secure more funding to bring more manpower onto the project, so there is no danger of your sample being discarded because the researchers are swamped!'"
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Distributed Dirt Digging for Life-Extension Research

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  • Hot damn! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ForestGrump ( 644805 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @08:13AM (#15539121) Homepage Journal
    I'm going to submit a sample from stringfellow superfund site! [epa.gov]

    Yes, I knew there was a reason I live ~10 miles from it.

    Grump
  • I need to clean the cat box anyways!
  • Is this some kind of Hanso Foundation trick?
  • I'm going to send them dirt from a graveyard!
    • Re:I can help! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oddwick11 ( 446434 )
      That isn't funny, that is the point! Bacteria from graveyards are specially adapted to breaking down animal compounds, some of which may be useful in creating anti-aging therapies.

      Disclaimer, I am not a member of this research group, but they are in the same building.
  • Swamped? (Score:3, Funny)

    by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Thursday June 15, 2006 @08:55AM (#15539463)
    One of the funding organizers notes: 'We're working hard to secure more funding to bring more manpower onto the project, so there is no danger of your sample being discarded because the researchers are swamped!'"

    Shouldn't that be that the researchers are buried?

    [rimshot]

    Thank you, thank you; I'll be here for the rest of your life!
  • Irony... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @08:55AM (#15539467)
    The irony here is that even if some magical anti-aging component was found in my dirt, it would take big pharma years to purify it, test it, and package it. And then they would sell my own dirt back to me for thousands and thousands of dollars.
    • If you just want to eat dirt, go ahead. Nobody's stopping you. If you want somebody to analyze the dirt, extract interesting enzymes, test them in all kinds of different ways to figure out what they do, figure out a way to manufacture them reliably, and go through a bureaucratic approval process...

      Then yes, you'll probably have to pay for that.
  • But... then when would we get to retire.

    I don't want to work forever.

    -GiH

  • ...when his mailbox gets Slashdotted :)
  • total rubbish (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lovebyte ( 81275 ) <lovebyte2000&gmail,com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:29AM (#15539762) Homepage
    Since I work in this domain, let me tell you that this is total rubbish. It takes years and millions of dollars to properly analyze one "dirt" sample.
    This is just a publicity stunt to get some cash, or funding.
    • Re:total rubbish (Score:2, Informative)

      by oddwick11 ( 446434 )
      I'm not sure what you do in the domain, but you certainly can analyze samples in short periods of time and without millions of dollars... it depends on what you are trying to do. I believe they are doing some variant of restriction plating, which is a fairly quick and inexpensive screen for bacteria which digest specific media.

      I met the researcher at a seminar, as he works at my university, and they are analzying all of the donated samples. In fact, they have already isolated one target enzyme from a donat
    • This is just a publicity stunt to get some cash...

      Or a lot of dirt.
  • Biopiracy? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by slocan ( 769303 )

    The first thing I thought of was: They want to recieve samples from all over the world (aiming for biodiversity), in order to build a huge DNA library (as is their stated goal) and, presumably, file patent applications and be granted patents (I did not find any IP policy on the sites I briefly browsed). Then, who would benefit from it all???

    The donations they are inviting (free labor), that aim at obtaining biodiversity, look like a biopiracy [wikipedia.org] effort, wherein the idea of appropriation and "exploitation" wi

    • The donations they are inviting (free labor), that aim at obtaining biodiversity, look like a biopiracy effort, wherein the idea of appropriation and "exploitation" with lack of due compensantion is the main point - through patenting including.

      Patents expire.

      The dirt I walk on has no value to me beyond its ability to grow plants. These guys don't want enough that it reduces my ability to have a nice perennial garden.

      If some company can grant me immorality (even at a steep price) in exchange for some
      • Copyrights used to expire, too.

        I don't have a ton of faith in Big Pharmaceuticals not to lobby for patent extention when there are trillions on the line.

        I'd say it isn't a bad idea to think about things like this.

      • Patents expire.

        <IMNSHO>

        Yes, patents expire so that, in exchange for the monopoly that was granted, the people can obtain some benefit.

        But do they expire soon enough? Is the duration of the monopoly proportional to the benefits obtained by the people when it finally expires? In matters of health, should there be limits to the extent of such patent monopolies? Should the duration of the monopoly be the same, whatever the technogocial or scientific field in which a patent is granted?

        One point is

  • by GogglesPisano ( 199483 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:40AM (#15540405)
    Dear Sir:

    Thank you for the kind donation of a sample of dirt from your back yard. We are pleased to inform you that we have isolated a fascinating compound from it and consequently we will require a larger amount for further study. We'll bring in the backhoes and dumptrucks around 1:00 this Tuesday.

    Sincerely,
    The Biodesign Institute

    PS - Have you considered getting a built-in pool? Now might be a good time.
  • So, the first thing I noticed was this seems fishy because that username is just what the article is about. "fight aging" This feels like a total attempt at free advertising to me. I was kind of surprised it actually got posted.

    Then when you click the link it goes to a page that is just like the ads in the back of magazines trying to get you to buy crap.

    Did it strike anyone else that way or is it just me?
  • Sounds like someone's been reading their James Blish, [wikipedia.org] lately
  • I suspect they're planning for new buildings. Every project around here has a sign that says "FILL DIRT WANTED"!

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