Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Clones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clones. Show all posts

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Symbols of Immortality 4: The Fake Human Burger

No sooner did labs begin developing the ability to 3D print a fake hamburger, than Oxford-based evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, stampeded straight for the less obvious question: why not 3D print a burger made of artificial human meat?

Inside the Quest to Make Lab Grown Meat | WIRED (16 February 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment. It may have been a Swiftian joke. Maybe it was clickbait. Dawkins was Oxford's professor for the 'Public Understanding of Science' until 2008, so he must know about outreach.

A 3D printer creating fake meat. Image Source: ByFlow via BBC.

Over the past few years, the major news outlets have promised that lab grown meat is coming to your table and that this is a good thing: Washington Post, BBC, Bloomberg, The Economist, Reuters. Motherboard and the BBC have covered the topic since the new year. BBC reported that Dutch firm ByFlow has started selling its 3D meat printers to restaurants. ByFlow's motto is: "Think. Design. Eat." Memphis Meats (backed by Bill Gates) and Mosa Meat are two artificial meat start-ups which will start selling fake meat for public consumption by 2021. Another cellular agriculture company is New Harvest.

In the third week of February 2018, news outlets reported that the US Cattlemen's Association filed a petition to the US Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA) against the Silicon Valley start-ups which are creating lab-grown meat. You can read their petition here. They focused primarily on the definition of real meat as created from animals which have been raised and slaughtered, so that fake meat cannot be labeled as genuine meat, thereby misleading consumers.

The Meat of the Future: How Lab-Grown Meat Is Made (2 October 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Lab meat, also known as clean meat, is touted as cruelty free, especially to vegetarians. Vegan Insight reported on 16 March 2018 that 41 per cent of Britons will eat "lab-grown clean meat and fish" in the next decade.

Image Source: Belchonock/Depositphotos via New Atlas.

It is one small step to Dawkins' fake human meat. Fake cannibalism will probably get a lot of support. Under the video below the jump, one girl commented: "As a vegan, I'd be happy to eat cultured human meat. I'm actually very curious and not grossed out at all."

Joe Rogan's interviewee in this video, Sam Harris, said (here) that there was "zero ethical problem ... if this was never attached to an animal, we're dealing with concepts here," that is, the vegan girl would be eating an object cultivated in a vat of human cells.

This issue highlights a moral blind spot in technological progress; it proves that technology is skewing the human ability to judge right from wrong.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Last of Their Kinds: On and Off the Red List

Image Source: Sebastian Kennerknecht/PantheraCats/Twitter.

This year, the blog keeps returning to the Himalayas, and there must be something to that: see my earlier posts on the Himalayas here, here, and a 2015 post, here.

Today's post concerns the BBC report from 14 September 2017 that the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), the great cat of the Himalayas, has been removed from the endangered list, and is now classified as vulnerable. Scientists argue that the reclassification could place these cats at greater risk, but it is still good news that their population has improved.

As the snow leopard departs the endangered list, more than 150 species have been added to it. The ash trees of North America, a population of 9 billion trees, have been classified on the brink of extinction, due to an invasive Asian insect, the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). In the past few years, all the beautiful ash trees around my home in eastern Canada have died or started dying.

The Christmas Island pipistrelle bat was declared extinct this month. Image Source: Lindy Lumsden/Mongabay.

The Christmas Island Pipistrelle vesper bat of Australia (Pipistrellus murrayi) was declared extinct in September 2017. I have previously written on extinctions as less-recognized moments in history and as turning points in time. I have also discussed efforts to use genetic manipulation and cloning to bring back extinct species, as scientists work against the course of time and evolution; this is most noticeable when they plan to revive prehistoric species.

Image Source: BBC.

Image Source: BBC.

Image Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images/NPR.

Snow Leopard: First Intimate Images In The Wild - Planet Earth - BBC Earth (12 March 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

See all my posts on Extinction.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

China's Clone Factory: Cheap, Fast, Industrial

The Doll Factory (At Night) by . Image Source: RedBubble.

BBC reports on the world's largest clone factory now operating in China:
The country is spending vast amounts on research - so much that one leading British scientist says China is on course to overtake the US in 30-40 years' time. [BBC] Science editor David Shukman was given rare access to one key area of Chinese research - a laboratory which creates around 500 cloned animals per year.
Image Source: Venture Beat.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ending and Extinction. For Now? Forever?

Lonesome George. Image Source: Reuters via Guardian.

The giant Pinta (Abingdon) Island tortoise (Geochelone nigra abingdoni), Lonesome George, died at the Tortoise Centre on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos on 24 June 2012 at over 100 years of age. He was the last known member of a subspecies of the Galapagos giant tortoise.

The subspecies are mainly named for the locations where they evolved, or the zoologists who identified them. The Galapagos islands gained fame for their unique wildlife when Charles Darwin (1809-1882) visited them in 1835. His observations there formed the bases for his 1859 work on evolutionary biology, On the Origin of Species, which you can read here or here. A glance at the Galapagos tortoise subspecies list tells how incredibly varied the creatures on these islands are. These are closely related animals, but they cannot necessarily interbreed successfully; several of the subspecies are extinct or endangered:
  1. the Pinta (Abingdon) island tortoise
  2. the Wolf volcano tortoise
  3. the Cristóbal (Chatham) island tortoise
  4. Charles Darwin's James island tortoise
  5. the Pinzón (Duncan) island tortoise
  6. Albert Günther's Sierra Negra volcano tortoise
  7. the Española (Hood) island tortoise
  8. the smaller Volcano Darwin tortoise
  9. the Charles island black tortoise
  10. the Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) island tortoise
  11. John Van Denburgh's Volcano Alcedo tortoise
  12. the Iguana Cove tortoise
  13. Fantastica Fernandina (Narborough) island tortoise (disputed)
  14. Santa Fe island tortoise (disputed)
  15. Rábida island tortoise (disputed)  
In 1971, Lonesome George was spotted on Pinta island by malacologist József Vágvölgyi; he was then tracked down and captured in 1972 and moved to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz. His keeper, Fausto Llerena, was part of that 1972 expedition and cared for George until the reptile's death yesterday. Having spent so much time with Lonesome George, Llerena reflected on the animal's personality:
I like to take care of George because he is friendlier than the other tortoises. He is always attentive at my arrival and approaches me and lifts his head to greet me. We understand each other very well, although we do not use any words. ... [He is f]riendly and attentive with me, he is jealous of his space and food though, with the other tortoises that share the corral! Every time we carry out some work in the corral, he is always next to me.
Lonesome George was known as an 'ending' - the last of his kind. Once an ending dies, the species becomes extinct.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Red Hood Walking: Biotech Android of the Sixteenth Century

The Middle Ages were more Millennial than one would think. The aim of medieval alchemy was to find the root components of matter as a means to decode the connection between the material and the metaphysical. This field was the progentior of nanotechnology, quantum physics, quantum consciousness, quantum biology, biotech, genetics, anti-ageing tech and Virtual Reality. Alchemy was the science devoted to finding the Elixir of Life and attaining immortality. Alchemy confirms that literally building a spiritual dimension was always the ultimate aim of science.

The greatest and most famous alchemy text in the world is the Splendour Solis, or, Splendour of the Sun. Twenty copies still exist. The first copy dates from the early Renaissance, 1532-1535. By 1582, the work was illustrated. That edition (British Library Harley MS 3469) is a hand-copied manuscript codex with 22 full page illuminated images. These pictures contain kabbalistic, astrological and alchemical symbols. Their mysteries are still difficult to understand. There is a repeated motif of giant glass flasks, within which birds, animals and elements are transformed into people. Test tube babies float in these glass globes with cloned, mythical beasts. Sounds very - Millennial. You can see the codex online, with its incredible illustrations which are simultaneously antique and futuristic, and its and cryptic (translated) text, here.

Among the most sinister and curious of the illustrations is folio 18r (above). A muscled figure bears the alchemical colours of black, red and white. His head is encased in, or made of, red crystal. His left arm is transluscent white, so that his bones are visible. His right arm is bright red, suggesting its chemical composition. He strides out of a dark pool of primordial muck toward a celestial lady, whose angelic wings, star and crown indicate that she will take him to heaven, to immortality - or to superhumanity. She waits to hand him a red cloak. He appears as a mighty, frightening, forceful, masculine creature incredibly born of the perfect combination of elements. The lady represents the conference of something mystical and spiritual upon this construct: a higher consciousness, perhaps an immortal soul. This is the transition point, between Antiquity and Singularity, between the atomization of matter and its hidden transcendence.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cloning Our Way Back to the Deep Past

Image Source: Wiki via I09.

Woolly Mammoths have been extinct for at least four millennia (most Mammoth populations died 10,000 years ago, but a small pocket survived on an island in the Arctic Ocean until about 1,700 BCE). Several specimens of these great Ice Age elephant cousins are so well preserved in Arctic ice that there is a lot of speculation that they could be successfully cloned within five years.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Russian Scientists Clone Ice Age Flower

Russian scientists regenerated this Sylene stenophylla plant from tissue of fossil fruit. Image Source: Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences; National News and Pictures via Daily Mail.

Several news outlets are carrying a story about a successful Russian cloning of a 30,000 year old plant, which bore fruit and seeds: "An Ice Age flower has come back to life. How exactly did that happen? Well, a team of Russian scientists discovered a burrow that contained fruit and seeds left in the Siberian permafrost by a squirrel that buried them about 30,000 years ago. Remnants of the Silene stenophylla blossom were found perfectly preserved, and in an experiment to extract the seeds, the scientists pioneered a new way ['micropropagation'] to resurrect the plant. For thousands of years, the flower was fully encased in ice, and no water was able to get to it. The storage chambers that the squirrels created were filled with hay and animal fur to protect their treasure. Stanislav Gubin, one scientist working with the discovery, called it a 'natural cryobank.' The blossom with its white flowers looks similar to its modern-day version, which also grows in the same region as its predecessor." (Thanks to -J.)

This outcome makes the cloned plant, "The most ancient, viable, multi-cellular, living organism on Earth," and it has researchers chattering about Beringia (the lost land bridge between Asia and North America) as being a great storehouse of ancient extinct organisms.

The successful experiment also has implications for space exploration: scientists are hoping that if extinct plants and animals trapped in our planet's permafrost can be brought back to life through cloning, then similar resurrections could be done on Mars.  They speculate that they could revive dead Martian lifeforms, which may be preserved in permanent ice on the Red Planet.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Age of the Genome 4

Image Courtesy of the Genetics and Public Policy Center with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Today, the four-part series, Age of the Genome, presented by the BBC World Service - which honors one of the greatest scientific findings of our times, the decoding of the human genome - concludes.  You can listen to the broadcast here and schedule times are here.  June 26th marked the tenth anniversary of the discovery.  The series speculates on the huge impact this research will have on medicine and our attempts to understand our own substance and history as a species.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Age of the Genome 3

Today, the BBC World Service is continuing its four-part series on the Age of the Genome in honour of the tenth anniversary on June 26 of our decoding of our own genetic map of life.  You can listen to the broadcast here; and program times are here.  This great discovery is the silent revolution of our times.  More, it suggests that genes themselves are a giant roadmap to our evolution - they are the unread history book of our species.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Age of the Genome 2

A reminder today to listen to BBC World Service's Age of the Genome here.  This is the second of a four-part series, which commemorates the tenth anniversary of this landmark finding.  The series explores how the 26 June 2000 discovery by Venter and Collins, which was supported by a research team of thousands, will change our world forever.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Age of the Genome 1

BBC reports on the Age of the Genome. Image © Coneyl Jay / Science Photo Library.

BBC has dubbed our era the 'Age of the Genome.'  Today on the BBC World Service there is the first of a four part series airing about the mapping of the human genome and its significance for medicine in our times.  On this blog, I've mostly talked about how we use physics, astronomy, archaeology, legends and mythology to understand eras of history that are beyond the reach of human records and associated concepts of time.  What I have not mentioned as much is the similar use of genetics and biology as tools for measuring time, and the impact of time, on the human experience.  In other words, the human genome sequence is not only radically changing our current period and leaving its mark on it.  It is radically reshaping our present and future by telling us about our deep past.  This BBC series may address how the genome is being used as a tool for writing the unwritten Prehistoric history of our species.  Program times are here.  You can listen to the program here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Times Outside History 4: Prehistory in the Post-Postmodern Era

Hi there.  Previously Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe, May 2008.  All photos: REUTERS/Gleison Miranda-FUNAI.

How much of Prehistory survives in the present day?  Some anthropologists are devoted to finding niches of it in our Post-Postmodern times, be it through finding isolated indigenous tribes that still retain Prehistoric modes of existence - or by finding some Prehistoric patterns in current styles and popular behaviour.  Geneticists are commissioned to trace bits of Prehistoric life still extant via DNA studies; National Geographic recently participated in one such endeavour, The Genographic Project

Lately, Prehistory has been enjoying something of a renaissance with movies like Apocalypto (2006), the Land Before Time series (1988-2007), 10,000 BC (2008), and the Ice Age series of animated films (2002-2009).  There is a list of Prehistoric films here.

Neanderthals are back in vogue as well, enjoying a much more sympathetic treatment by Paleo-Artists and Palaeontologists.  In pop culture, they are the subjects of the novel trilogy The Neanderthal Parallax by Robert J. Sawyer.  Recently, Neanderthal testing kits have appeared on the market, so you can theoretically test the Neanderthal traces in your genetic profile.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Last of their Kinds

Lonesome George. Geochelone nigra abingdoni.

What does it mean to be the last of one's kind?  There are some species on the planet for which time has run out, or which are approaching zero hour.  We assume that animals have no larger consciousness of such things, but for us, the poignancy of their predicament is undeniable.

Friday, June 4, 2010

From Here to Eternity? Biosemiotic Cosmology Alert

Electron micrograph of bacteriophage virus.

Among weird academic announcements, this blurb came up at the H-Net, "From Here to Eternity: Can Mind Evolve to the Cosmos?" The author, Judy Kay King of North Central Michigan College, is interested in the field of Biosemiotics, the next level of information science. Biosemiotics combines social scientific methodology with Postmodern theory and applies them to biological science, especially reproductive technology. A semiotician searches beyond the mind-matter divide postulated by Cartesian dualism. This is an effort to 'think outside the box,' beyond causal associations between the mental and the physical, between inner and outer meaning.

Biosemioticians apply the intepretive rules of semiotics to biological processes. For example, they suggest that we are mortal because we procreate vertically through sexual intercourse. However, viruses replicate horizontally and that is a key to immortality. How do viruses reproduce and carry DNA messages? In biosemiotics, to turn a phrase, the DNA message is the medium. Do the symbolic configurations that viruses take to replicate horizontally cryptically reappear in ancient religions? Do ancient religions therefore show us the roadmap to immortality? That gets King to replication of life beyond death, to timelessness, gods, and the mind as map for the universe. No wonder her end results point to mythology, mysticism, occult, religion and alien speculation.
"Some scientists believe that viral DNA dispatched from an alien cosmic civilization has been transferred into the DNA of earth’s organisms. In relation to this idea of ancient viral DNA, but not in support of its alien dispatch, a published paper presented at the 34th Annual Meeting (October, 2009) of The Semiotic Society of America (SSA), an interdisciplinary professional organization grounded in the logic of American philosopher and scientist Charles Sanders Peirce, is now available online at no charge at www.isisthesis.com.

In line with the conference theme of the Semiotics of Time, the paper is entitled “Evolution Backward in Time: Crystals, Polyhedra and Observer-Participancy in the Cosmological Models of Peirce, Ancient Egypt and Early China” by SSA member Judy Kay King. The paper supports two major points. First, ancient Egyptian and early Chinese cosmological models lawfully sustain Charles Peirce’s idea on the continuity of mind. Second, the Peircean theme of crystallized mind, the Egyptian transformation of the dead King into a hybrid pyramidal form of millions, and the four-faced ancestral transformation of the early Chinese Yellow Emperor may point to the polyhedral form of an ancient lambdoid virus, suggesting the possibility of afterlife horizontal gene transfer and viral lytic replication (cloning) from here to eternity. The semiotic approach also explores the backward-in-time aspect of quantum observations, as well as the ascent/fall ontological structure of consciousness as framed by Swiss psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger in relation to Heidegger’s thought. Put simply, mind may act as a cosmic unifying force."
How many clones of ancient pre-Christian deities who are infected with alien DNA viruses can you fit on the head of a pin? See more at King's site, The Isis Thesis.

The perspective driving a line of inquiry predetermines its outcome. A biosemiotician preoccupation with the meaning of time sees it as a timeless association of related archetypes, governed by semiotic rules of association, with no apparent reference to the passage of time as part of the equation. No doubt semoiticians see vertical concepts of evolution and history as mechanistic, defined by perception limited by our mortality. If we want to think like gods, if we want to conquer time, we have to act like viruses and think of time horizontally.