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  1. - Top - End - #121
    Titan in the Playground
    Knaight's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default Re: Debate: Were dragons ever real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Icewraith View Post
    Well, I know we figured out how to get goats to extrude spider silk proteins using what sounded like (but probably wasn't) drag-and-drop gene editing.
    Modifying DNA to add a protein production center is about as easy as it gets (although using a goat is comparatively uncommon; this sort of stuff is exactly what e. coli is for*). Adding limbs that an animal doesn't have in the first place is a different matter entirely. Cell signaling "make this thing here" requires the rest of the biochemistry involved in making the thing, and that's the harder part - hence the occasional mutation where a turtle is born with two heads and the total absence of a fully formed limb appearing in snakes.
    *Among other things, it's easily one of the most useful model organisms.
    Fudge Assistant in the Playground.

  2. - Top - End - #122
    Titan in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Manchester, UK

    Default Re: Debate: Were dragons ever real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Icewraith View Post
    I also know that there are genetic defects that can cause limb duplication. Wasn't there a six-legged baby or something last year? We can already do this with fruit flies, producing flies with extra legs or wings or antennae.
    I'm pretty sure those extra limbs aren't actually functional, though, which is the problem--you need all six limbs to be useful if you want a four-legged dragon to fly (almost literally).

  3. - Top - End - #123
    Bugbear in the Playground

    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: Debate: Were dragons ever real?

    Icewraith, Aedilred: Thanks. I'd forgotten what it must be like to live without constant access to primary literature; as you can imagine, this makes it difficult to put lay thought in the appropriate context.

    At any rate, the biggest obstacle in our path is not which organism to start modifying. It's that the requisite basic science is far beyond our current capability to research.

    More accurately, it's beyond our capability to defend. We can, with great difficulty, determine what (probably) is, and therefore what can be. It is far easier and more immediately gratifying to determine what "should" be, particularly where funding is concerned. Quite apart from the people demanding our money would be the people demanding our heads, because what we're doing is an abomination according to whatever moral code they hold dear, or being done by people they'd rather not see succeed, or they'd rather we all "cure" whatever is ailing their relatives, or perhaps just because they feel like burning down a big complicated thing that a bunch of people care about and laughing over the ashes at all the sad nerds.

    If you want a pat aphorism, here is one: people hate and fear what they fail to understand. Dragons would require advancing our understanding of biology into the biggest bogeyman in human history; it will not happen. When I said above that we'd need science beyond what society can condone, this is what I meant.
    Last edited by Trekkin; Today at 02:51 AM.

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