Awesome Scientific Knowhow

toad

If you can suspend judgement for a moment the awe is overwhelming:

CRISPR and the Splice
to Survive

New gene-editing technology could be used to save species from extinction—or to eliminate them.

Odin, in Norse mythology, is an extremely powerful god who’s also a trickster. He has only one eye, having sacrificed the other for wisdom. Among his many talents, he can wake the dead, calm storms, cure the sick, and blind his enemies. Not infrequently, he transforms himself into an animal; as a snake, he acquires the gift of poetry, which he transfers to people, inadvertently.

The Odin, in Oakland, California, is a company that sells genetic-engineering kits. The company’s founder, Josiah Zayner, sports a side-swept undercut, multiple piercings, and a tattoo that urges: “Create Something Beautiful.” He holds a Ph.D. in biophysics and is a well-known provocateur. Continue reading

Protecting Species With DNA

edna1_wide-f1e53a765d91f7ae83f6e99cbe0c43bfc725c9e9-s1400-c85

Biologist Shaun Clements counts down the seconds before emptying a vial of synthetic DNA into a stream near Alsea, Oregon. Jes Burns/Oregon Public Broadcasting/EarthFix

Thanks to the salt, at National Public Radio (USA):

Can New DNA Science Help Keep Our Fish Safe?

by Jes Burns

Biologist Shaun Clements stands in the winter mist in a coastal Oregon forest, holding a small vial of clear liquid. Continue reading

Waking the Dead

Martha in a display case in the National Museum of Natural History, 2015. (Photo: Ph0705/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Martha in a display case in the National Museum of Natural History, 2015. (Photo: Ph0705/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 4.0)

If you happen to visit the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C, don’t just walk by this innocuous stuffed pigeon. Take a good look at Martha, because she’s the last of the world’s flock of passenger pigeons. And now the subject of the ambitious  The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback, a “de-extinction” project aimed at reviving the species. Using the genomes of the rock pigeon and the band-tailed pigeon as a reference, project scientists aim to assemble a complete passenger pigeon genome and transfer it into the germ cells of band-tailed pigeons in order to generate live passenger pigeons. The target date for the passenger pigeons’ triumphant return is 2022.

Continue reading