News Stories

Pigs with Wings & Cactus with Human Hair

Some scientists are manipulating genes in bizarre ways that seem to have no practical use. Are they creating science or art? Or are they just making monsters?

New Scientist reports that Laura Cinti has created a cactus that grows human hair. She says, "Hair is a sign of reproduction, a sign of our bodies changing, becoming or being sexual. So the cactus with hair becomes a sexual symbol." To create it, she combined human genetic material with cactus DNA. She says, "Bald men are particularly interested in the work."

Alas, most of her genetically-modified cacti are not doing well. "They've been imploding, shriveling," she says.

Oron Catts created wings for pigs. He says, "We took the statement 'pigs could fly'?and decided to literally grow pigs' wings?" He admits this raises "huge ethical and epistemological questions which people haven't begun to think about."

To make them, he says, "We harvested pig bone marrow stem cells left over from scientific experiments?Once we had the semi-living tissue wings we took them and fixed them with formalin, then dried them and coated them with gold to preserve them." None of them have been transplanted onto pigs yet.

Catts played music to the pig cells to make them grow. He says, "Before Napster collapsed we downloaded lots of pig songs?from Looney Tunes to heavy metal?and played them to the cells while they were seeding in the bioreactor. We did seem to get better distribution of the cells when we played the music."

Marta de Menezes creates butterfly art?with live butterflies. She says, "I became incredibly excited at the idea that I could create an art-piece in a butterfly. It would have the characteristics of a painting, but also something more important because the butterfly was already a life form itself. My butterflies have wing patterns never before seen in nature. I created them by interfering with their normal developmental mechanisms with a very thin needle while the butterfly was still in the cocoon. You can do this to a high degree of accuracy."

She alters only one wing of her butterflies because "by changing one wing I would be changing the butterfly into something that was definitely not natural."

She says, "People were very shocked at first. They didn't think it a good idea." For her next project: "?I plan to make the stripes of zebrafish vertical instead of horizontal so that they look more like zebras. I'd do this through selection and breeding, so the changes would be inherited."

Can we send our minds beyond the boundaries of the ordinary and learn to do incredible things. Do pigs have wings? Well, yes they do and Russell Targ can show you how to discover which of your own dreams are precognitive, become capable of remote diagnosis of the illnesses of others, and many other things that we are told by a lying media are impossible?all on this week's Dreamland. Subscribers: Meet Laurel Chiten, who knew nothing about abductees until she met Dr. John Mack, and decided to make a film about him.

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