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viernes, 28 de junio de 2013

Monos brillantes y robocucarachas (bioarte y bionanotecnología)

Los límites éticos del bioarte son fruto de diversas polémicas que no dejan de sorprenderme. A mi todo me parece más simple: no es lícito utilizar animales por motivos gratuitos. Los motivos  artísticos o tecnológicos por puro divertimento de una suspuesta superioridad biológica lo son, por mucho que nos atraigan o seduzcan. Cada cual es libre de opinar lo que quiera al respecto, como nosotros lo somos de considerar a los autores y promotores de este tipo de intervenciones inmorales o una forma alternativa de hijo de puta.

Os dejo para la reflexión dos nuevos e interesantes ejemplos del muestrario de uno de nuestros blogs recomendados con enlace permanente.



...and I think to myself (Blog recomendado)


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013




Bio-Art: Glowing Monkeys.

I've been looking into a book called Frankenstein's Cat. It details the advances made in mixing organic lifeforms with technology, covering everything from GloFish to Roachbots. In other words, it gels very nicely with this little column. It is so named because, hey, we'vemade a cat that glows green in the name of curing lethal diseases.

It's weird -maybe even cute - when cats and danios get turned green, but what if science did a GFP splice that really hit home?


Source: PopSci.


Well, Japan did. In May 2009, Erika Sasaki of the Central Institute for Experimental Aninals in Japan injected marmoset embryos with GFP. That's right: we've made a monkey glow green.Or, rather, we've made twin monkeys glow green, and it's 100% heritable. As with most of these experiments involving GFP, the scientists hope to track the genetics of Parkinson's, Huntington's, and many other hereditary diseases.

Marmosets, for the record, are probably the ideal lab monkey. (Rhesus monkeys are the other big monkey you need to know.) They reproduce at a young age, and are juuust distant enough from humans to avoid any really sticky ethical issues. Experiments have been done to make monkeys glow in the past, but this is the first time that the trait has been heritable. The last monkeys did not pass it on to their offspring, or else suffered genetic lottery fail.

Kei and Kou are the first F2 glowing marmosets. They were made by effectively cloning a male glowing marmoset's sperm into the egg of a normal female marmoset. Although not as well-expressed as one might think, the little monkeys do indeed glow in the dark beneath their fur. If nothing else, their underpaws glow green, showing the transgenics at work. Since then, they have gone on to sire many a glowing monkey, creating the first glowing primate founding stock.

Here's the kicker: even monkeys aren't close enough to humans to track some diseases. Soon, we will need to splice human embryos if we want to cure diseases that can only affect people in a certain way. Ethical concerns aside, it should be easy to find some crazy mom who would want a bright green baby, so long as "will not look like The Grinch" was part of the contract. This isn't art yet, but look for gene spliced kids in the future. It'll happen.

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2013



Bio-Art: Roachbots.

I'm going to let the video do the introducing this time:



Now, WTF was that? A company called "Backyard Brains" has released a series of kits related to neurology and cockroaches. Some of them just feature moving cockroach legs with a few wires. The more impressive kits allow one to brainwash cockroaches. No, you do not need a degree of any kind to do this; that's the whole point.

As the site itself puts it, "Backyard Brains enables anyone to be a neuroscientist."  The site has a series of experiments, all of which can be dome with their kits and a few things found in most households. Another famous invention of theirs is the "SpikerBox," which amplifies the sound of neurons to an audible level. It's all pretty cool, and a lot of it will be fuel for future entries.

The "RoboRoach" involves stimulating the antenna nerves of cockroaches so that one can have a brainwashed roach puppet for a few minutes. The whole thing is done via a "backpack" that fills the antennae with fine wire, which in turn tells the cockroach where to move via nerve pulses. You can only tell it to do things like move left and right, but that's still pretty nifty. Same basic idea as RatBot, only less precise and using an icky roach instead of a cute rat.



It's not that this idea has not been touched on before. There was an old cartoon involving robot roaches. One also appeared on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but do note that these RoboRoaches will not become the roachinator above.  Roachbot is not a real cockroach; it still works just as good as RoboRoach for freaking out your friends. Have fun messing with household pests!