English 165LB: Literature & Biotechnology (W11)

–> our course blog

Open thread

Posted by rraley on January 5, 2011

feel free to jump in and start discussion if you’d like…


9 Responses to “Open thread”

  1. Elizabeth Rogers said


    So this has been floating around the internet lately- scientists are trying to clone/resurrect the wooly mammoth. I don’t believe it will actually work (hasn’t it been tried before?… several times?), but it does raise some interesting questions. First, did Jurassic Park teach these people nothing?! Soon we’ll be up to our necks in velociraptors!

    On a more practical note, I don’t see much of a point to bringing back the wooly mammoth, other than to prove that science can do it. It’s hard to imagine that people would be content with cloning just one mammoth. Hell, we know that if it succeeds, we’re going to have ‘Wooly Mammoth Land’, sponsored by the Disney Corporation.

    There must be some other animal that scientists could clone that would make more sense. Perhaps the Yangtze River Dolphin, thought to be recently extinct, thanks to the activities of man? Theoretically, clones can reproduce, can’t they? Didn’t Dolly have her own little lambs?

    • Bridget Cundelan said

      I think this article shows exactly why people have serious complaints with biotechnology. While I think it would be pretty cool to see a live wooly mammoth, there is no logical reason to do so. At best it would bring an animal into the world to live alone and be subject to numerous tests and experiments. At worst, it would turn into a Jurassic Park scenario where we could witness an apocalypse by Wooly Mammoths! It seems like this kind of cloning is just a way to satisfy our curiosity. What would we even do with a Wooly Mammoth? I think the article said if accomplished, and they seem to think it would happen within six years, they will run tests and then possibly put it on display. I honestly see no beneficial use to cloning an animal like this, and I think it is an instance of misplaced scientific endeavors. Cloning an animal like the mammoth would only increase the tension in the biotechnology debate. Scientists who wish to use this technology for good and to heal illnesses need to make sure they don’t create a catastrophe in the process, eliminating the possibility for success in the health field.

      • Eric Merenstein said

        Okay so i agree there may not be a logical reason to clone a wooly mammoth, but i think it is worthy of doing for the sheer attempt to do so. It is curiosity that has driven man since the earliest of days. It’s not like the Egyptians weren’t opening up bodies before DesCartes decided to crack open that cat. The idea of a misplaced endeavor in science is rather counterintuitive because it almost implies that we know where the next idea will arise. Perhaps watching the wooly mammoth move around will help us understand how to better help our endangered species that resemble wooly mammoth’s.
        I think it is important to worry about this stuff, but at the same time if you never did it wouldn’t you always wonder what if? I understand the logic of this taken to its extreme ends in the atom bomb, but nuclear energy isn’t so bad. I suppose if we can maintain control over our sciences and minimize disasters it appears to me like the best way to move forward and progress at least in the realm of science and understanding. That and take away funding for defense because really how much more effective do we need our nukes to be?


    I noticed that this specific blog it’s an “Open thread”. I don’t know how much this would relate to the class’s overall theme but it’s definitely an interesting/controversial article questioning the types of measures certain governmental institutions (the military) employ in order to reach their goals.

    I guess we can relate this to the topic of “consent” we’ve been discussing in class these last couple of weeks. How can you possibly be aware that you’re consenting (or supporting in this case) to something when your psyche is being attacked/influenced/controlled by certain psychological measures? What’s crucial about this article is that our own “leaders” are the targeted audience here. The individuals who are supposed to employ the best judgement in order to be able to make ethical and intelligent decisions in order to attain a progressive development of our nation are vulnerable to this type of submission? And how do we (the public) know whether or not are victims of these strategies? …..


  3. After discussing Alba, the glowing bunny, I remembered that in my Biology class two years ago we discussed Taiwan’s production of generically modified GloFish. The Glofish are known to be the first genetically modified pets. The GloFish are actually sold in the U.S. in every state except California. Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have prohibited the sale of genetically modified organisms, including these GloFish.


    A set of older articles:

  4. Stephanie Bell said

    The title of next week is Extreme Makeovers, so I thought this documentary film was fitting. Its on Hulu, the part that everyone can watch and its entitled ‘Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain’ and basically tells the story of many different aged people who all want to look younger. One of the lines which stuck out for me was one of the people who was getting plastic surgery to look younger said that everyone wants to look like they are 28, once you are 28 you are old, which I thought was just ridiculous. There is one woman that the film maker follows who really takes the surgery too far but it never seems to hit home that she looks worse now she has had all the surgery. It doesn’t link perfectly to the class, but the film maker is the daughter of a plastic surgeon and has an obsession with youth. I found it interesting that once she got botox she immediately regretted it.
    The documentary is quite long, but I think its worth it. I couldn’t figure out if I was surprised with what the participants were saying about age, or whether I expected it of our society.

  5. Elizabeth Rogers said


    Guys, also relevant. I didn’t know they’ve produced glow in the dark dogs, but they apparently have. And you can go ahead and buy mouse embryos with the genes spliced in, so you can have some glowing mice too.

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