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Author Topic: Let there be light
Callipygous
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 07:24      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
OK, so there's not a lot to be cheerful about at the moment, but in the encircling economic gloom the news of the end of the stem cell funding ban is a tonic! I sincerely hope this means we soon won't even have to pretend to take the religious right seriously any more. I also hope that they now see the practical reasons for the separation of church and state in the US constitution, how by aligning themselves so closely to one party they have damaged both politics and indeed the reputation of Christianity itself both nationally and internationally. I certainly attribute the greater intolerance, partisanship, and plain nastiness US political life, to the increasingly intimate involvement of religion in the political process. This unpleasantness and intolerance also rubs off onto the image of Christianity itself, which also cannot have been improved by its association with perhaps the worst, and certainly the most despised president in recent US history.

With a bit of luck more fundies like this one may come to realise that there is more to politics than their hot button issues, and more than one party they can vote for with a clear conscience.

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"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

Posts: 2922 | From: Brighton - UK | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 12:08      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've been picking up the rumblings of some fundamental shifts. Stem cell research funding is but a symptom of a larger change. Obama actually acknowledge non-believers in his inaugral speech. Recently I saw a news article stating that a growing percentage of Americans are dropping out of religion. Granted, 3/4 of the country still identifies as Christian and ~1/3 identifies as some flavor of evangelical, but the numbers are dropping. I am taking this as a hopeful sign that the strangle-hold religious ideology has had on the US political scene is starting to relax.

There has also been a concurrent change in the air regarding how science is perceived. It's very subtle but I feel it. For years, I've felt like something of a pariah. The cultural climate was very suspicious of science and those that do it. It's shifting now, hard and fast. I don't feel like I have to be shy about who I am and what I do anymore. And that is a refreshing change.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 12:31      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
In another good sign for science, Obama won't let bureaucrats make scientific decisions.

Looks like Obama meant what he said in his inauguration speech, he's restoring Science to it's rightful place.

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

Posts: 10680 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
reign99
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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 15:52      Profile for reign99     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Callipygous:
OK, so there's not a lot to be cheerful about at the moment, but in the encircling economic gloom the news of the end of the stem cell funding ban is a tonic! I sincerely hope this means we soon won't even have to pretend to take the religious right seriously any more. I also hope that they now see the practical reasons for the separation of church and state in the US constitution, how by aligning themselves so closely to one party they have damaged both politics and indeed the reputation of Christianity itself both nationally and internationally. I certainly attribute the greater intolerance, partisanship, and plain nastiness US political life, to the increasingly intimate involvement of religion in the political process. This unpleasantness and intolerance also rubs off onto the image of Christianity itself, which also cannot have been improved by its association with perhaps the worst, and certainly the most despised president in recent US history.

With a bit of luck more fundies like this one may come to realise that there is more to politics than their hot button issues, and more than one party they can vote for with a clear conscience.

My gf and I are atheist, so religion doesn't really play a role. Honestly I don't really care either way as long as people don't use this step to justify some new step further down the road. My girlfriend is a microbiologist however and she's not all too happy about it.

All he did was open up embryonic stem cell research to federal funding, all others were already allowed. My basic understanding is that the reason the embryonic's were so sought after is their "blank slate" state. However, apparently umbilical cord stem cells provide the same situation, minus the whole "killing" situation.

I'd love to hear from someone who actually does work with stem cells on the subject. I am all for it though. I would love to see progress made in nerve regeneration. How wonderful would no fear of paralysis be? I must admit I do sometimes concern myself with the "Brave New World" leanings however. I certainly understand intellectual excitement (like a runners high for geeks), but I think we need to temper it with sound judgment as well.

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reign99
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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 15:53      Profile for reign99     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sorry, double post.
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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 19:51      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The dreaded next step would be human cloning and the Obama Administration has come down very firmly on the "no" side of that debate. Fine by me. I see no value in cloning a human beyond the "Look at we can do!!!11!! factor" and the ethical issues that come along with it are messy beyond belief.

The irony is, while scientists are now allowed to establish new embryonic stem cell lines, they almost don't need them anymore. In the past eight years, they've been learning how to convert adult cells to a stem cell state. But I guess the embryonic cell lines still have their place. If nothing else, they'll make good positive controls. You always want to start with something you more or less know is going to work.

I don't do stem cells. In fact, I try to avoid cells in general.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 20:38      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
The irony is, while scientists are now allowed to establish new embryonic stem cell lines, they almost don't need them anymore. In the past eight years, they've been learning how to convert adult cells to a stem cell state. But I guess the embryonic cell lines still have their place. If nothing else, they'll make good positive controls. You always want to start with something you more or less know is going to work.

The truly damning thing is: Would that have gotten this good if they could have just used embryonic stem cells? Given the restrictions, they had to get more creative, and probably advanced the science even more. That being said, it sounds like embryonic stems are more readily available, and I personally have no qualms about them...so let the science move on!

This irony reminds me about a gripe with my ex...who has a DSLR, as well as a smaller digital camera. I don't have a DSLR, but I am a perfectionist, so I use my camera to the absolute best of my abilities. That's not necessarily saying the most...but there are definitely a number of shots that I'm proud of. By comparison, she treated her small camera like it was a toy, incapable of taking good shots. Surprise, surprise, the quick shots she took with it were just as bad as she would expect them to be. I'm sure it could never truly compare to the SLR for focus, speed, or zoom, but I'm certain that with a bit of effort, it could produce perfectly good pictures.

[/sidetrack]

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2009 23:18      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The cost of the delays are hard to quantify. The interest in creating stem cells from adult stem cells was already there though - if one wants to use stem cells as a therapeutic tool, one must get those cells past the immune system. If you can revert a healthy, differentiated, adult cell from the patient to stem cell status, you'll have a stem cell that won't set off a potentially fatal non-self response. On the flip side, if you want to understand how something works, you can kill off a lot of variables just by starting with the real McCoy (in this case, an actual factual embryonic stem cell). In short, both avenues have value and it's vital to the field that both avenues be available.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

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reign99
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Icon 1 posted March 11, 2009 09:42      Profile for reign99     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
The cost of the delays are hard to quantify. The interest in creating stem cells from adult stem cells was already there though - if one wants to use stem cells as a therapeutic tool, one must get those cells past the immune system. If you can revert a healthy, differentiated, adult cell from the patient to stem cell status, you'll have a stem cell that won't set off a potentially fatal non-self response. On the flip side, if you want to understand how something works, you can kill off a lot of variables just by starting with the real McCoy (in this case, an actual factual embryonic stem cell). In short, both avenues have value and it's vital to the field that both avenues be available.

So basically, at a certain point the embryonic stem cells will likely be unnecessary anyway? I hadn't even heard about the ability to revert an adult stem cell, very cool.
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reign99
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Icon 1 posted March 11, 2009 09:46      Profile for reign99     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
The dreaded next step would be human cloning and the Obama Administration has come down very firmly on the "no" side of that debate. Fine by me. I see no value in cloning a human beyond the "Look at we can do!!!11!! factor" and the ethical issues that come along with it are messy beyond belief.

That's true. I think some people would follow the "organ farming" line of thought for reasons why cloning would become big, but my understanding is we're working on growing organs independent of a body, or at the very least a human body. So yeah, beyond showing off I don't see much point.
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