Weekly Roundup 56

This week there has been some controversy but of two different kinds. Over a year ago I wrote a post about metallic hydrogen which now based on more recent papers seems to be under some scrutiny. Although the research has been peer reviewed some of the experts in the condensed matter have suggested that the observations could have been produced by other factors than the metal hydrogen explanation. It is reasonable to be sceptical as phase V hydrogen has been hunted for for over eighty years although there has yet to be any counter evidence showing the observations were indeed wrong. This puts the whole matter into a semi-true and semi-false zone where the best course is to not think about the situation until more evidence for one side materialises. The other point of contention is based more on ethics than on evidence based science. This is because researchers in California have used the CRISPR gene editing technique (that I have talked about but not by name here) in order to grow animal foetuses that are in fact a combination of the DNA from the base animal and human. The team reports that both a human-pig and human-cow embryos have been developed along with the slightly less eerie mouse-rat. This is done (simplified here) by injecting the undifferentiated cells of a human into the animal embryo and then inserting it into a host mother’s uterus. To add to the concerns the creatures after being created in the embryo form must be, so tastefully put as, “destroyed” after 4 weeks. These animals could be used to grow replacement human organs and could fix the current organ donor hole but I can’t deny I feel mildly disturbed by the concept of growing an animal that contains a large proportion of human cells even if there only purpose is to trick the human immune system.

Until tomorrow, goodnight.


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