Sunday, November 29, 2015

Science on the March!

1. Reading the papyrus scrolls of Herculaneum. Discovered in 1752 under the debris from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, the scrolls are so debased that most efforts to read them have resulted in their further deterioration. Now modern imaging techniques from medicine and physics are being used to reveal their ancient texts. Success has been limited, but scientists continue to search for the lost texts they believe the scrolls contain. It's all about knowledge.

2. Producing genetically modified salmon. New techniques for replacing genes are being used in all sorts of interesting ways. Salmon have been genetically modified to grow bigger and fatter more quickly than salmon in the wild. It's all about the money.

3. Connecting the rise of agriculture to genetic changes in humans. Techniques for analyzing the human genome of people living and long dead continue to improve. They are also much cheaper than they used to be. A recent study shows that human DNA changed through natural selection as agriculture replaced hunting/gathering in Europe.. It's all about the knowledge.

4. Raising dairy cows without horns. The genome of dairy bull cows has been modified to delete the gene for producing horns, thus eliminating the need to remove them surgically as the young bulls mature. The American Veterinary Medical Association says the procedure is quite painful. I still think it's all about the money.

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