November 10, 2009

oocyte1_5How Far Should Human-Animal Hybrid Research Go?
British scientists begin a new study to consider how human DNA is used in animal experiments and to determine what the boundaries of such controversial science might be. Though experts have been swapping human and animal DNA for years—like replacing animal genes with human genes or growing human organs in animals—scientists at the Academy of Medical Sciences want to make sure the public is aware of what is happening in laboratories before proceeding further. (Maria Cheng, Associated Press)

A Bushy Family Tree
Fossils reveal evolution could take our relatives in bizarre directions, involving skulls resembling nutcrackers and miniature bodies resembling the hobbits of Lord of the Rings. “These fossils tell us that human evolution was a long process of experimentation, not the outcome of a long process of fine-tuning leading just to us,” said paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (Charles Choi, LiveScience)

Couples Face Dilemma Over What to Do With Extra Embryos
As thousands of frozen embryos continue to accumulate and pressure mounts to decide their fates, doctors say more families must weigh the promise and perils of adoption and research. (Manya Brachear, Chicago Tribune)

How Einstein Divided Jews
When Einstein arrived in New York in April 1921, he was greeted by adoring throngs as the world’s first scientific celebrity, one who also happened to be a gentle icon of humanist values and a living patron saint for Jews. Newly published papers from that year, however, show a less joyful aspect to Einstein’s famous visit. He found himself caught in a battle between ardent European Zionists led by Chaim Weizmann, who was with Einstein on the trip, and the more polished and cautious potentates of American Jewry, including Louis D. Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, and the denizens of established Wall Street banking firms. (Walter Isaacson, The Atlantic)

Literally?
Joe Hockey: One reason why Christian faith has declined in the West is because of the reliance placed on a literal reading of the testaments. Such an approach has tangled the Christian faith in a confusion of contradictions. By encouraging literalist analysis of the Bible, many churches have inadvertently invited people to question the validity of a faith that seems to be based on questionable facts or outdated prescriptions. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Category: Field Notes

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