Tag Archives | experiments

UK Scientists Warn Of Future ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Scenario

planet-of-the-apesCould ongoing experiments involving the mixing of human and non-human DNA produce monstrous, over-intelligent hybrids down the road? In the U.S., human cells are already being implanted in mouse embryos, so we’ll likely be facing the rats of NIMH, rather than talking chimps who smoke pipes. The Telegraph reports:

Action is needed now, according to a group of eminent experts. Their report calls for a new rules to supervise sensitive research that involves humanizing animals.

“The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human..speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us.”

Currently research involving great apes, such as chimpanzees, is outlawed in the UK. But it continues in many other countries including the US, and British scientists are permitted to experiment on monkeys.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Living In A Biodome In The Arizona Desert

USA_SCI_BIOSPH_01_xs_FINALCabinet Magazine looks at one of the strangest experiments in American history, the Biosphere, a Lord of the Flies-style misadventure in utopian scientific overoptimism that spawned a terrible Pauly Shore movie and a fad diet:

At 8:15 am on 26 September 1991, eight “bionauts,” as they called themselves, wearing identical red Star Trek–like jumpsuits (made for them by Marilyn Monroe’s former dressmaker) waved to the assembled crowd and climbed through an airlock door in the Arizona desert. They shut it behind them and opened another that led into a series of hermetically sealed greenhouses in which they would live for the next two years.

The three-acre complex of interconnected glass Mesoamerican pyramids, geodesic domes, and vaulted structures contained a tropical rain forest, a grassland savannah, a mangrove wetland, a farm, and a salt-water ocean with a wave machine and gravelly beach. This was Biosphere 2—the first biosphere being Earth—a $150 million experiment designed to see if, in a climate of nuclear and ecological fear, the colonization of space might be possible.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Nazis Tried To Train Dogs To Read And Talk In Effort To Win WWII

hitler-dog-620_1903562cThe ultimate goal of a large-scale project known as “Wooffan SS” was for dogs to take over as SS officers, spies, and concentration camp guards. The Telegraph sifts through the sordid kennel of history:

The Germans viewed canines as being almost as intelligent as humans and attempted to build an army of fearsome ‘speaking’ dogs, extraordinary new research shows. Hitler hoped the clever creatures would learn to communicate with their SS masters — and he even had a special dog school set up to teach them to talk. The incredible findings show Nazi officials recruited so-called educated dogs from all over Germany and trained them to speak and tap out signals using their paws.

The Germans hoped to use the animals for the war effort, such as getting them to work alongside the SS and guard concentration camps to free up officers. The bizarre ‘Wooffan SS’ experiment has come to light after years of painstaking research by academic Dr Jan Bondeson into unique and amazing dogs in history.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Endangered Sea Turtles To Be Killed After Experiment

Green sea turtle. Photo: Wilfried Wittkowsky (CC)

Green sea turtle. Photo: Wilfried Wittkowsky (CC)

Controversial news that’s causing an uproar. The Vancouver Sun reports:

Endangered green sea turtles that have been part of a University of B.C. research project for more than 10 years will be killed sometime this spring.

Bill Milsom, head of UBC’s zoology department, said seven turtles will be killed in order to complete a study into turtle diving depths. The turtles are at least 10 years old and can live to be 30.

The study was designed to measure the impacts of climate change on the animals and to help countries develop policies around fishing.

More than 85,000 green sea turtles died as “bycatch in the fishing industry” between 1990 and 2008, Milsom said. By studying diving depths, researchers could recommend how deep fish nets should be placed to avoid catching the turtles.

Asked why kill an endangered species, Milsom said “they were brought in for these experiments [at UBC] and as part of those experiments, it requires harvesting the tissues.”

As the research progressed, he said, the studies became more invasive.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Scientists Control Worms’ Minds Using Lasers

single-worm-neurons_1Mind control via laser is a reality, but so far has been used exclusively to make tiny worms wriggle and lay eggs (which they would be doing anyway). Scientific American reports, with no word on when this will be applicable to human subjects:

Scientists have come a step closer to gaining complete control over a mind, even if that mind belongs to a creature the size of a grain of sand. A team at Harvard University has built a computerized system to manipulate worms—making them start and stop, giving them the sensation of being touched, and even prompting them to lay eggs, as seen in the video above—by stimulating their neurons individually with laser light, all while the worms swim freely in a petri dish. The technology may help neuroscientists for the first time gain a complete understanding of the workings of an animal’s nervous system.

The worm in question, Caenorhabditis elegans, is one of the most extensively studied organisms in biology: researchers have completely mapped and classified its cells—each individual has exactly 1,031— including its 302 neurons and the 5,000 or so connections among them.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

2010 Ig Nobel Prizes: Whale Snot, Socks Over Shoes, And Scientists’ Beards

4367365253_b7f9705610The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize winners (like the Nobels but better) have been announced in various categories of science. These amazing discoveries are the reason we are living in the most exciting of times. ABC News reports the results:

ENGINEERING: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, Agnes Rocha-Gosselin and Diane Gendron for developing a method to collect whale snot using a remote control helicopter.

TRANSPORTATION PLANNING: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi, Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker for using slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks.

PHYSICS: Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams and Patricia Priest for demonstrating that wearing socks on the outside of your shoes helps prevent slipping on ice.

PEACE: Richard Stephens, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston for confirming that swearing helps relieve pain.

PUBLIC HEALTH: Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews and Larry Taylor for determining that microbes cling to bearded scientists.

MANAGEMENT: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if promotions were made at random.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Milgram Experiment Newspaper Ad

Via Twitpic, an interesting historical souvenir: the original newspaper classified ad calling for participants for Stanley Milgram’s obedience study, perhaps the most notorious psychological experiment ever. Milgram pressured his subjects into administering (simulated) electrical shocks to an unseen victim, testing ordinary people’s willingness to comply with brutal commands from authority figures. The payment section should read, “$4.00 and a glimpse of the darkness inside your own soul.”

milgramad

Read the rest

Continue Reading