Letters to the Editor
Gene drives at the wheel01/29/2016 - 12:30 Genetics
Tina Hesman Saey discussed the power of a new gene-editing technique to boost the development of gene drives in “Gene drives unleashed” (SN: 12/12/15, p. 16). Gene drives have the potential to eradicate insectborne diseases, Saey wrote, or remove invasive species from non-native environments. But the tremendous possibilities of this technology had several readers...
Broad generalizations can provide for powerful rhetoric. Whether discussing a moonshot to cure cancer or the merits of genetically modified foods, the strongest statements lump distinct things together — the dozens of types of cancer, for instance, or the myriad crops that scientists have genetically altered. But broad statements about the value or risks from genetically modified...01/29/2016 - 12:15 Science & Society, Genetics
Arriving home after work a few summers ago, agricultural economist Matin Qaim found several disturbing messages on his home phone. A study by Qaim had shown that small-scale farmers in India who grew genetically modified cotton had larger harvests compared with conventional cotton growers. Those better yields resulted in greater profits for the mostly poor farmers and more disposable income to...
The lab where a company called General Fusion is trying to spark an energy revolution looks like a cross between a hardware store and a mad scientist’s lair. Bins full of electrical gadgets are piled high against the walls. Capacitors recycled from a bygone experiment are stacked up like bottles in wine racks. Ten-foot-high contraptions bristle with tangled wires and shiny plumbing.
Fossil hunter Mary Anning’s 1823 discovery of the first complete plesiosaur skeleton led to more than 190 years of arguing. Some claimed the marine reptile used its four flippers like the oars of a boat. Others countered that the flippers flapped through the water like bird wings.
Experiments with robots and even humans wearing plesiosaur-like flippers only fanned the flames. But a new...