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slade19

Veteran Member
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About slade19

  • Rank
    Veteran Member

Personality

  • MBTI
    INTJ
  • Astrology Sign
    How rational.

Converted

  • Biography
    not much
  • Location
    France, but been in Egypt most of my life
  • Interests
    cellular biology, system biology, microbiology, neurosciences...
  • Gender
    Male

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  1. Some of the interesting minerals are rare on earth, or present in forms that are unusable (meaning we would need to pay a gargantuan cost to purify them, way more than what they are worth). Asteroids are chemically pretty simple, and are made of rather neat forms of the mineral (generally metal) we want that are easier to process. Those are the perks I am aware of.
  2. Technology isn't the issue, when you change a few nodes in a network you don't fully know, you can't be sure that what you do is significant. CRISPR isn't going to change a thing in that. Yep, I am close to the biohacker community, I am one myself. Being quite aware of practical limitations, I am aware of what can and can't be done. For example there are entire genus we can't genetically manipulate due to technical reasons. That's also what researchers and synthetic biologists (which I am also involved with) routinely do, and not one of them is as bold as you are in your claims. Perhaps because they have first-hand experience about how messy it is. I am not assuming a thing, it's a fact that any ecosystem you affect, you are de facto a part of. Sustainability is a thing you see, and cutting the branch on which you stand through sheer ignorance is not my idea of engineering. If you take for example a stupid parasite in some lakes, that are well-known to cause red bumps and itchiness and primarily target fish and render them unedible. Every wise guy out there figured we ought, for the sake of the fish that we eat, get rid of that pesky creature. The whole ecosystem, including the fish, collapsed, because it turned out the parasite was the main source of food in the lake and everything else depended on it. Ripple effects are extremely common and your interest in certain species for whatever reason doesn't signify when it comes to the damage you might do, including to yourself and the very species you were thinking about. If we care about exploiting natural ressources for a long time, then yes, you might actually want to think about it before doing anything that will probably, in hindsight, seem incredibly stupid and short-sighted. I am not saying every species is necessary, some of them are expendable for our purposes, but going in blind is not what I expect from an engineering perspective when the damage might be permanent. There is no going back and changing a line of code, or tweaking a parameter as a test until you are satisfied: when changing life on the scale of an ecosystem or a species, you have to go all in (otherwise it's merely evolution and just as inefficient as in nature). Life is a historical science. What works now works because of all of what happened before and abrupt changes need to be compatible or they break everything, and you can't know it advance. But here it is assumed that you know how the code was written, how it works in details, and that it's not going to depend significantly on equally complicated code in another program you are not aware of. Again, going in blind. We still have loads of things to figure out before we can be confident in doing what you so casually propose, assuming it's even possible. When it's not fine, we have medecine (and regardless, significant number of people do not survive every year). Also, when it's not fine, they might not survive: about 22% of fecundated eggs fail and never even start a pregnancy; of the eggs that do implant in the uterine wall, 30% terminate on their own after a while; if you factor in the miscarriages that concern late term pregnancies, you end up with as high as 70% of failure. A lot of people know of Down syndrome and we say it's severe, but that's nothing compared to other chromosome abnormalities that never even have a chance to form an embryo. Genetic diseases we know of are the "mild enough" cases that we get to observe. As for genes, your number concerns protein-coding genes, but it overlooks functional RNAs (some of them way better conserved than most house-keeping genes, meaning they have even stronger selective pressures on them), and other regions of the genome that are necessary for vital processes but never get transcribed. Ever wondered why we don't live in GATTACA yet? Because the genome is substantially messier than we expected and there are loads of things we don't generally understand yet. We also suffer from technological limitations especially when it comes to studying individual cells dynamically, as opposed to entire populations of cells statically like we used to do forever up until very recently. I rest my case, Life is the most complicated thing in existence and we are pretty far from being able to do what you would like us to do.
  3. Polytene chromosomes in melanogaster, and equivalents in other insects.
  4. Genetic engineering is a subject where technicalities are important: life repairs itself, and what we mostly do in genetic engineering is hack these mechanisms to insert (knock in) or take out (knock out) or turn off (knock down) different genes. It's very easy to do in bacteria because they have a highly organized, compact genome, so it's in a way just about taking out modules or inserting other modules. It's the "safe" bet. In higher animals (metazoans), we have to work with much more expansive genomes that we call "fluid" because they remodel rather quickly (that's mainly to compensate a very low number of individuals compared to unicellular creatures, so increasing the rate of evolution and effects of mutations), that's also part of the reason twins don't look alike after a few decades apart and we almost never reach 100% effect from a mutation, even a lethal one. The networks of genes are extremely complex (for reference, to affect a node in a city's electric system, you have to impact 20% of the other nodes; in Life, that proportion climbs to 80%). Due to that, experiments that involve KO of more than two genes are considered extremely inelegant and epistemologically messy. To significantly alter a creature like thod is talking about would be incomparably more uncertain. And we are indeed talking about altering here, creating life is nowhere near our grasp for now. Knowing all that, yes, any bug or fuck-up could quickly spiral out of control (absolutely certainly so in the case thod is considering, which is introducing a new, engineered species in the wild). Such a bug is always going to happen at some point because life evolves and you can't control how it happens, your perfect system is going to be used for something it wasn't intended to, it's going to change in ways you didn't expect (because you are not equipped to expect it) and other creatures are also going to take advantage of it (one unlucky mutation in a virus for example) or suffer from it in ways you did not expect, or simply influence it in ways you couldn't suspect. The issue is similar in ecosystems: a species killed in some place can bring your whole system crumbling down, including pretty far from anywhere you expected an effect to be possible. Ecosystems and genes are undeniably complex, which can also imply chaotic and hypersensitive. Both things we are notoriously bad with. The day we can predict movement of a double pendulum (something incomparably easier to understand than a 40 000 gene containing, 50 trillion cells composed creature) is the day I start considering thod's perspective; for now, it's a list of very pretentious, unsupported claims.
  5. Somehow you don't seem to envision yourself as loser in this "superevolution". I am pretty sure we will be. My appeal isn't so much one to nature, as much as it is common sense: any error in such a complex system is going to hurt us pretty badly, or lead to big losses. Life is too complex to be left to engineers.
  6. Badly used appeal to nature. They are also, in a way, committing it, but they can also show plenty of actual disadvantages to humans in the damage we do to the wildlife. Environements change over the course of thousands of years, because generally species don't suddenly appear (unlike our introduction of invasive species), rarely suddenly disappear (unlike our pest control and massive exploitation or otherwise widely destructive effect), and the actual environement is easily considered stable over a couple of centuries, and if not, then the organisms that inhabit it have had their time to adapt to that too. What we are doing is not natural in that nothing changes that quickly normally, and when there was a massive sudden event (and even then, sudden may mean a few million years geologically) it tends to wipe out a little over half the creatures alive and up to 99%. We can change entire landscapes in a week, and roads, habitations, etc, forbid a lot of species from migrating to a place where they can survive. We are also indiscriminate and tend to rely on heavy weaponery (pesticides that attack the neural system of all arthropods to eliminate one species you don't want) and suffer from excessively simplistic thinking. Time scales do matter, biology is a historical science and time is very much relevant, you can't treat it like an equation where all that matters is that the conditions at the end are "livable" to some life on earth. Furthermore, we are terrible environemental engineers: the great dam in Upper Egypt did bring a lot electricity and stop seasonal floods but it also stopped what made the land there attractive in the very first place: Limon as an incredibly fertile soil; it also wiped out a few species that used to live there and the Nile now holds a laughable number of species. Because of that, the country now has to depend on extremely costly use of fertlizers (sapping all its other water ressources) and canalization systems that favorize stagnation of water and act as incubators for a wide range of diseases, and it has to import most of its wheat after thousands of years of self-sufficience. In France they had to reverse a large number of "progressive measures" by law, like replanting pines in the south to prevent sand and salt from spreading inland, replanting vegetal boundaries between fields to mitigate the spread of fungi and pests between fields, or trying to pull back from the massive breeding of pigs in bretagne that cause erosion of the soil, pollution of drinking water and algal blooms that strangle the fisheries there. The day we regulate the climate on a global scale is the day we make our last mistake.
  7. The Sahel is the region between the desert and the savannah. It's expanding at the expense of the savannah, demonstrating quite clearly that dry areas seem to get bigger, not shrink, at the very least in places where significant numbers of people live. Desertification also occurs due to a lack of vegetation, which we exacerbate by growing crops (i.e, taking out native plants that can retain soil or make a barrier against sand) and cutting trees (incidentally, this also leads to an increase in the salinity of the soil, putting some places in vicious feedback loops). It seems rather that intensity of precipitation increases, but not the distribution, due to weather patterns, as you said:
  8. Fertilizers and pesticides are water pollutants that are harmful to animal and human populations (both running water and underground ressources). Fertlizers are also responsible for devastating algal blooms in nearby coasts which kill massive amounts of fish. If we look at the Sahel, it would on the contrary seem that a warmer world is a drier one. It's also expected that the way change happens on the global scale isn't quite as intuitive and simplistic as you think. On an ethical note, since those who pollute and those who are negatively impacted by pollution are often different people (depends on the nature of the pollutant, but CO2 is one of them), your perception isn't the only one that needs to be considered.
  9. You depend on other living things, and on clean ressources. Most pollution is detrimental to both. What pollution can you show as having a positive effect versus the adverse effects we can show?
  10. And living organisms also serve as pretty good witnesses of its reality: coral reefs are between 5000 and 10000 years old, but after surviving so long, it's only now that ocean acidification (chemically due to CO2 reacting with water) is taking a massive, undeniable toll on them: 93% of the 2300 km long Great Barrier Reefs are affected by bleaching, 22% of the reefs of The Great Barrier are already dead in a time span of a few decades. Sea turtles have a sex determination based on temperature; here is the sex ratio of the 2008 nesting season in hatchlings and breeding adults at the Alagadi rookery. Knowing that green sea turtles reach sexual maturity from 20 up to 50 years old, and they live a little over a century, this site provides a good idea of the usual sex ratio of those populations by looking at the parents. In some species, we have already reached 100% females in the wild (so that we have to dig up their eggs and incubate them ourselves to keep some males in the population). Needless to say, this is not viable. Hence such situations are very unlikely to have unfolded before, otherwise there would already be no sea turtle left to observe. Species migrations are also very telling. Whether geographically towards the north and south, or upwards by conquering unusual heights, and that is oberved simultaneously in insects, amphibians, birds, mammals, plants and fish (the latter being easily viewed by fishers in cold waters, who start capturing more and more tropical species). I am currently living in France and keep hearing of how unusual the birds are now, they either don't migrate south anymore during winter, or new species I used to see in Egypt are now nesting near Switzerland. The point being, Global warming is real, and much much quicker than Life has been used to throughout its history, and arguably higher as well. Discussing human involvement would be a slightly more tenable, albeit still very weak position. Being a climate change hoaxxer is being in plain stubborn denial.
  11. Francium has a very short half-life, and would be one of the rarest elements on earth at any given moment, we are missing a lot of information.
  12. So a sort of "did you know?" trivia thread. Ok. Spiders quickly run out of breath when running because their respiratory system depends on diffusion of oxygen in mere tubes in their bodies. Androdioetic populations are populations of creatures where hermaphrodites cohabitate with males, and tend to be unstable on long time scales. Mg2+ is the main polycationic ion in the cell and plays a role in the "melting" of DNA (meaning that the helix dissociates). Ca2+ could theoretically be used for that same purpose but ended up playing a very different role in the cell. The test for Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a disease that affects the repair mechanism for photo-induced thymine dimers, consist of taking specific cells from an individual and making them fuse parasexually with a cell from another patient with a known mutation. If the resulting cell can repair itself, it means the patient has a mutation on a different gene. We do this with 7 different cells to cover the clinically relevant genes until we find a fusion cell that can't repair itself. Some marine bacteria can be glittery. It takes a whole day for the dystrophin gene to be transcribed into RNA. Echidnae have four-headed penises, and chipmunks have an actual bone in it. A whole week of trivia for you.
  13. If you are interested enough, which I am sure a criminal would be, it's perfectly possible to find manuals and videos and whatnot, whether legal or not. That's how Merah, in France, managed to resist the RAID for 30 hours, even though he got no training. If you are really really interested, there is a wealth of material provided by people who have to deal with such teams, like terrorists. You can also study how real interventions went. The only people who are going to be hampered by the inaccuracy of TV shows are law-abiding criminals when it comes to classified information. Or just lazy. Or plain unimaginative idiots. TV shows are inaccurate because police work is often boring, much less flashy (especially when it comes to their available equipment and the time they have on their hands) and much more constrained by procedures and hierarchy than shown there. And because, of course, policemen are flawed humans and a lot of cases don't get solved, or don't lead to a happy ending. It's often the same with medical shows really. Shows are admittedly not about accuracy (I swear), it's a rare added value, not something you purposefully remove from your show for some safety consideration. It's something you purposefully introduce in it as far as you care to bother.
  14. 22 minutes is the half-life of one of its isotopes (Fr223), and only means half of it is no longer francium after that time has passed. If you want the energy released by the decay, it can easily be found on wikipedia. But you are asking about this reaction. In that case the nuclear decay is irrelevant.