Head Transplant: Science or Science Fiction?

Do you think a head transplant is science fiction or science fact? Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero thinks it will be science fact. Canavero has a reputation for being a sensationalist in the global medical community. But is he?  The Animal Successes Canavero and Chinese surgeon, Xiaoping Ren, published a study that showed monkeys and dogs could walk after their spinal cords were completely severed during surgery and then put back together again. According to USA Today, the study published in the magazine Surgical Neurology International included video evidence.  They applied a polyethylene glycol substance (PEG) to the nerve endings. They want to use PEG to transplant human heads. Patients with incurable and fatal diseases would have a new body in which to live. Think of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), people like physicist Stephen Hawking.  Canavero states that neurosurgeons have been “stuck to the view that a severed spinal cord cannot be mended in any way.” He completely rejects that view.  Is a Head Transplant Possible There have been experiments involving animal head transplants since the early 1900s. None, not even the ones Cavanero and Xaioping did, have survived more than days.  Whole head transplantation must overcome […]

Science Fiction Authors About Science

Science fiction intimidates some. Perhaps, these quotes by science fiction authors about science might help dispel some of that.  Magic or Science? “Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.” Ray Bradbury-The Martian Chronicles  Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.” Jules Vern-A Journey to the Center of the Earth “If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.” Ursula K. Le Guin Science is magic that works.” Kurt Vonnegut-Cat’s Cradle Why Science “Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.” Frank Herbert-Dune I think science fiction helps us think about possibilities, to speculate – it helps us look at our society from a different perspective. It lets us look at our mores, using science as the backdrop, as the game changer. Mae Jemison I, for one, bet on science as helping us. I have yet to see how it fundamentally endangers us, […]

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Conservation Genetics is in the good, the bad, and the ugly spotlight. Conservation Genetics “aims to understand the dynamics of genes in populations principally to avoid extinction.” Clear as mud? An Example It may be easier to understand with an example. Conservation genetics aims to help endangered species, like African cheetahs. Today the existing 10,000 African cheetahs share 99 percent of their DNA. In other words, they’re all related. This means there is little genetic diversity. Low genetic diversity leads to a population that is highly susceptible to disease. Disease that could make the African cheetahs extinct. Scientists involved with cheetah breeding projects determine how closely related two cheetahs are. They want to reintroduce genetic variety into the population of cheetahs. So, they choose the ones that are the furthest apart genetically and breed those two together.  If they are successful, the cheetah population will grow. (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/better-living-through-conservation-genetics/) Revive & Restore Revive and Restore is a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to “enhance biodiversity through new techniques of genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species.” One of their funded projects searches for the genomic trigger of bleaching the coral reefs. They say that this study has the “potential opportunity to […]