If we clone enough spotted owls, can we start shooting them again?
Just to make sure we're all on the same wavelength here, here is a list of weird ideas, separated according to whether I am willing to buy into them:
|Life on other planets.||Life on other planets coming to Earth to steal cow entrails.|
|Methane-based life on really cold planets.||"Intelligent energy patterns," aliens from biofluidic or photonic space, or aliens living inside giant rifts in the fabric of space-time (if you've never watched Star Trek, it would take too long to explain).|
|Faster-than-light travel (Einstein notwithstanding).||Faster-than-light technology was traded to the U.S. Government by aliens back in the '50's in exchange for permission to experiment on U.S. citizens.|
|Some of the biblical disasters may have been exaggerations of real events.||The disasters happened exactly as written, and were caused by the planets Venus and Mars beating the snot out of Earth (Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision).|
|The lost continent of Atlantis is based on a real island.||In the year 2010, the lost continent will resurface, and its leaders, who spent the last ten thousand years in a rejuvenating meditative trance, will emerge to lead us into a new age of peace, light, and pretty crystals.|
|Robots will gain sentience and replace mankind as the dominant species. If we're good, they may keep us as pets.||Robots won the war three hundred years ago, and we're now being used as glorified AAA batteries (The Matrix).|
|Anything written by Isaac Asimov.||Anything written by Tim LaHaye.|
|SETI may actually come up with something.||SETI is a government-sponsored front to make everyone assume that we haven't been talking to "them" since we traded the Roswell pilots back.|
In short, there is a limit to how many laws of physics can be broken before I'll stop listening. I guess that's why I don't watch as much "Star Trek" as I once did. Once you realize that half the plot devices they use are scientifically ludicrous, it's hard not to switch over to Jerry Springer. At least there you get to see some really exotic life forms.
SETI - The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
Since the evil minions at Congress saved every one of you seventeen cents by eliminating funding for SETI research in 1993, a couple of private groups have sprung up to try and keep the search going.
The SETI Institute runs Project Phoenix, a targeted search of the two thousand nearest sunlike stars over millions of radio frequencies.
The SETI League is developing "Project Argus," a scattered series of amateur radio telescopes whose goal is to search the entire sky all the time, focusing on the low radio noise spectrum between 1.4 and 1.7 gigaHertz. They're about 4900 scopes short of their goal, so if you have a few grand lying around, an interest in radio equipment and SETI, and some spare time, this is a fun effort to support. Or you could just give them money.
SETI@Home is a much easier and cheaper way to get involved with SETI. You download a nifty screen saver, get a chunk of radio data from Project SERENDIP, and the computer sorts through the data looking for little green men. They're approaching a million downloads of the software. It's literally the fastest supercomputer ever assembled.
My personal opinion is that we should be terraforming the hell out of the solar system. Unfortunately, the solar system isn't going anywhere, so people don't see a pressing need. People are a bit narrow-minded that way. We wouldn't even have gone to the moon if the Russians hadn't shamed us into it. No, the American public would rather funnel the awesome power of the world's largest economy into "Hanson" CDs, mindless programming for a hundred cable channels, and dog food that makes its own gravy.
Not that I'm bitter.
So, what sort of program should be implemented to make Venus and Mars more clement to human life? Some have suggested a graduated approach. For example, building small domes on the surface of Venus and terraforming it twenty square feet at a time. I prefer taking care of the renevation and remodeling before anyone moves in. That way, if you need to slam a few comets into the planet to get water, you needn't be too particular about where they land.
The basic idea behind cloning is to take the entire genetic structure of an organism and make what is essentially a duplicate of the original. The potential uses of cloning include bringing back endangered species, create ideal laboratory animals to assist medical research, studying the effects of inherited versus learned behaviors, and creating an unstoppable army of super soldiers to unite the world under my fearless leadership and crush any who dare oppose me.
The New Scientist Cloning FAQ
Missyplicity.com: An extreme example of people spending too much time and money on their pets. An anonymous rich couple are spending approximately $2.3 million to have their dog, Missy, cloned. It's been two years since this hit the press, and I don't know where the project is at this point.