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Thread: Oninion: two incredebly stupid scientific projects

  1. #1
    Whats it to ya? Finch's Avatar
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    Blah blah yadda yada yada. Ok what am talking about? something that i feel are being pushed a head recklessly with potential for disaterous results.

    The next generation of particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, is hoped to be powerfull enough to produce mini black holes within it.

    Hes, you heard right: black holes.

    Apparently it would be a stunning and exiting physics discovery and prove that the existence of other dimensions is fact and not just a theory. A exiting prospect, certainly. But what do we do with the black holes?

    Well physicist say that if they are produced, that they should last a billionth of a billonth of a second and then evaporate. should. and that probably (hopefully) should be too breif to swallow surrounding matter. probably.

    You know, physicists have been wrong before. Even if theyre right, what if two of these mini-black holes collide with each other and merge before they disappear? What then? They say thats "unlikely".

    Does anyone else find it a litytle unnerving that we are having the potential of creating black holes in our back yard and that the best we can get is a "most likely" that they will evaporate before they can cause a problem? Well we'll know when its opened next year.

    The other one is genetically engineering species of alge to produce hydrogen instead of oxygen as a by product of photosynthesis as a new source of fuel. Does anyone remember the last time a new byproduct was emitted by life-forms from photosynthesis? a little something called oxygen? As i understand it it cause quite a bit of problems for the other life forms about then. What if this gives the alge a edge other oxygen-producing alge in the wild? Why wed be screwed. Alge produces lots of the oxygen we breathe.


    So thats my worries. what are some scientific endeavors that worry you?
    that makes no logic

  2. #2
    endparenthesis's Avatar
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    I thought you were saying onions were a threat to mankind for a second there. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile.gif[/img]

    These black holes are beyond tiny. They're scary mostly in that they share the name "black hole" (it can make the knee jerk). There are a thousand scientific projects I'd be more concerned about, personally.

    I'm trying to think of one that really bugs me.

    I think nanotechnology may be one of the biggests tests we'll have to face. Our power over matter could be pretty godly 50-100 years from now, and like anything it'll be a double-edged sword. We've managed not to blow ourselves up with nukes so far, but that's kiddie stuff. One of the typical fears is the whole "gray goo" scenario (pretty easy to avoid an accidental occurance, but what about a purposeful one?). People say a lot of theoretical nano feats can't be done, so there's nothing to worry about, but remember you were assembled via self-replicating nanotechnology (using sloppy and bloated "code" at that). And if nature can do it, it's only a matter of time before we do it "better".

    Nanotech doesn't bother me that much though... we have 50-100 years to wise up on it, and some very smart people have been thinking about it for over half a century already.

    The stuff that really bugs me is the stuff that happens out of corporate greed. Like pharmaceutical companies trying to make us forget about natural, more effective remedies for things that they don't like because they can't patent them. Or when fast food places start engineering pseudo-food where nutrition is barely an afterthought. That's the stuff that does the most damage to society in the end, I think.

    Thankfully if used properly, nanotechnology will be somewhat like cold fusion... when things we fight over become as plentiful as air, the world becomes a much safer place. So greed can't have as much of a hold on people.

    Otherwise I'd say corporations + nanotechnology = nice knowing you, earth.

  3. #3
    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]but remember you were assembled via self-replicating nanotechnology (using sloppy and bloated "code" at that).
    I don't appreciate you talking about my parents like that. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_n_32.gif[/img]

    As for the "black hole" thing, I wouldn't waste my time worrying about it. Do some research on it and I'm sure you'll find that there's really not much to worry about.

    Um, currently I'm not pulling out my hair about anything, but some of the genetic modifying going on is the most stupid things I've ever heard of. I'm not one of those people opposed to everything genetically modified, but things like the terminator gene... it's downright irresponsible, idiotic, and irking. Like endparenthesis said, it's businesses you gotta watch out for. It isn't paranoia, either. Think of how cruddy things would start getting if the human genome has sucessfully been patented (in entirety.) The key to all of these things is to take it easy and not go too wild. Businesses like to go wild when they smell cash. Well, we'll see how things continue to develope, but one thing is for sure: there'll be good and there'll be bad, no two ways around it. One thing that people fearing genetic modification is that it's nothing new. Kale, colrabi (spelling?), broccoli, cauliflower, and a couple of more all have been selectively chosen and all originated from the same mustard plant. So don't get over edgy, but watch out for the pigs with wings. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_m_32.gif[/img]
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    Black holes undergo a process called evaporation, whereby they slowly radiate their mass away. The smaller they are, the faster the evaporation process occurs. Google "Hawking Radiation" if you wish to know more.

    The black holes produced by the collider will be so tiny, if they are produced at all, that they will exist for a tiny fraction of a second.

    What's more, if theory is correct, they're already being formed in our atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays.

    The natural ones are no problem, so the artificial ones will not be, either.
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    StifflerMichael's Avatar
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    I don't see what's so wrong with hydrogen-producing algae. If we wish to use hydrogen as a fuel source, we will need to get it from somewhere...and lots of it. This method would produce tons. Calling it 'incredibly stupid' seems a bit absurd, especially when you consider the environmental impacts of current energy policies.
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Think of how cruddy things would start getting if the human genome has sucessfully been patented (in entirety.)
    It's already public domain, many researchers use it on a daily basis, so don't freak out. Genetic engineering is not all about three-eyed fish...Diabetics are thankful for the development of recombinant (that means genetically engineered!) human insulin. Instead of the bovine and swine insulin used before.

    But I agree with the coporate greed stuff...I mean, c'mon, Viagra?! They're wasting time with this!?

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    Hey Michael,

    I agree with what you say but algae is exceptionally difficult to control and keep in one location. Now ramp it up to production scale and think you can keep it in one area?

    GMO corn set to produce Bacillus thuriengensis israeliensis toxin (hope that's spelled correctly) were found to transmit the trait through it's pollen possibly allowing cross pollination to other crops.

    I work in a containment lab setting and lots of precautions need to be taken to prevent cross contamination. Think how much algae there is worldwide and if the trait could be passed to other genera/species of algae or simply to wild-type. Hygdrogen could potentially be generated on a large scale worldwide. I think this study should proceed but VERY carefully.

    Just because something doesn't cause disease to humans doesn't mean it won't have a substantial impact to the environement.

    On a positive note: a company in Cambridge is using algae to reduce power plant emissions. That CO2 is good for something.

    Kirk
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  7. #7
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (kirkwmartin @ Sep. 08 2005,1:41)]GMO corn set to produce Bacillus thuriengensis israeliensis toxin (hope that's spelled correctly) were found to transmit the trait through it's pollen possibly allowing cross pollination to other crops.
    Except that corn can not cross pollinate with any other crops. Kind of the way apple tree pollen can not cross pollinate with an orange tree.

    The real "worry" with BT corn is that the pollen itself carries the toxin and so if the pollen blows onto wildflowers near the farm then any insects that visit those flowers are then subject to being poisoned by the pollen if they happen to ingest it. Then those insects die and their predator can't find enough food so they die and then all the other bugs that that predator eats will suddenly undergo a huge population boom and take over the world. At least that is what most of the anti-GMO groups would have you believe.

    Here is some more educated clarification. The different sub-species of B. thur. tend to be pretty specific to the insects they kill. So the ones that kill mites are by and large harmless to butterflies and vice versa. Couple that with the dilution principle. If it takes a minimum amount of toxin to kill it is pretty easy to get that minimum amount when you are eating a plant loaded with the toxin. However, if you blow a billion pollen grains over a square mile how easy is it to get that same minimum dose? (and to answer the question before it is asked: No, a single pollen grain does not carry the minimum dose.)

    It is all a matter of thinking it through and doing all the research. Something that cause-heads are not very prone to.

    Now, as for the baby blackholes. My recommendation is to read some of Hawking's work. That should help ease your fears some. Sure there is a chance that something could go wrong. But at the same time there is a chance that if I throw myself off the roof of a 30 story building I won't fall to my death. And while I don't remember the statistics exactly I believe the odds of my flying are better than those of a micro-black hole getting dangerously big (even if it managed to merge with a second micro-black hole.)

    And as for hydrogen producing algae (and just a quick note, this would not be photosynthesis as that term is specifically for the formation of sugars and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water,) I seriously doubt that it will be a problem. Nature has already shown that metabolic processes that produce sizable amounts of hydrogen as a by product are not very robust so the odds of it escaping and reformatting the environment are pretty slim. Plus, you need very specific conditions for it to happen. Conditions that are not to be found in your every day average lake, stream, pond, ocean, puddle, etc.
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

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  8. #8
    moonflower's Avatar
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    yeah they said that the RHIC accelerator at Brookhaven Nat'l Labs was going to make black holes too... and look, new york is still very much in existance although a few nutjobs did try (unsuccessfully) to blame JFK Jr's plane crash on the tiny black holes.

    and yes, i would be far more concerned about how far genetic engineering is going. i'm all for the good that it can do for humankind, but i don't think that there are nearly enough limits placed on it. anyone ever see the movie "Gattaca"? it's about a futuristic world where parents visit the local geneticist before having kids, and the embryos' genomes are selectively edited until only the best traits are expressed. "it's not that it's not you... it's just the very best of you." people are divided into "valids" and "in-valids" based on their genetic code, because no company wants to invest all their time and money into a person who's going to develop a heart condition at 35. and what's scary is, it's kind of happening already... parents find that their unborn children are going to have some horrible disease like Tay-Sachs that will kill them before the age of four, and sometimes they abort. i've heard rumors of people who refuse to be tested for genetic diseases that run in their families, for fear that their insurance companies will either hike their premiums or drop them entirely.

    think about what would happen if somebody came across a genetic marker for violence or pedophilia or some other socially unacceptable vice. or if insurance companies started mandating genetic testing as a part of their already asinine risk analyses. it's subtle and insidious, but the more you know about what your genetic blueprint really says... engineering aside, how will the knowledge alone affect human behavior?
    "Seeds? Oh yeah... sometimes I forget they grow from those. I feel like they should hatch or something."

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