Tweaking Genes…

Why do mice get all of the fun?… After the Break…

Tweaking Genes…

Science can be slow. Very, very slow.

If you’ve been waiting for flying cars to show up in the car dealerships any time soon, you may want to find a new pastime to distract you. The same with robot maids. Jet packs, as well.

We made the trip from the Earth to the Moon back when computers were measured by how large the room was that they filled. Everyone expected that we’d have colonies on Mars by now. We’ve sent robotic probes to Mars, to be certain, but no Mars colonies… Or Moon colonies. And Earth has one space station, total… And it might not be around in another ten years. And I really doubt that you’ll be able to buy a quantum computer within the next five or so years.

I wonder, sometimes, where society would be if we spent a little less on inventing new ways of killing each other and more ways in studying the environment around us and attempting to make it a better place for everyone (including the critters that we so enjoy crowding out) to co-exist. Knowledge is a good thing and the more knowledge that we have and the more knowledge that we spread to others, the better our entire civilization gets.

One type of science story that always annoys me is the “scientists tweak a gene in a mouse and the mouse lives an extra 50 years” story. These stories emerge all of the time and, the more that I see them, the more annoyed that I get at them.

Scientists have been tweaking mouse genes for what seems like decades now with the intent on making them last longer than the shelf life of gravel. For the most part, they’ve succeeded brilliantly at extending a mouse’s lifespan by several factors. And it’s not just mice but fruit flies and worms and other creatures as well.

So when do us humans get to have some fun at all of this gene tweaking that allows mice to live 500% longer or let them run around as though they were young and healthy for seemingly forever?

For every story about some university team that extends the life of a mouse or a fruit fly by some incredible factor, I’d like to read a follow-up on why that method failed to work in humans… If the treatment ever got to a human in the first place.

I’ve got no problem with science; It has given us some pretty amazing stuff over the years (see: Internet, the). What makes me glum about the concept is that it keeps teasing all of these wonderful inventions that never quite materialize.

The flying cars I can live without. We’ve already got planes and helicopters.

The robot maids? They’d be nice but a luxury item at best.

The Moon and Mars colonies would certainly be fun to read about but I doubt that I’d ever live long enough to visit either.

The “tweaking a gene and living 500% longer” thing, though… Mayhaps we should follow up on that one a bit more aggressively than we have.

Science can be very, very slow. The least that they can do is explain what happened to all of these tweaked gene experiments after the headlines died down.

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