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  1.  (8870.1)
    Your moment of mad science for the day? GENE GUNS.

    From the Wikipedias:
    "A gene gun or a biolistic particle delivery system, originally designed for plant transformation, is a device for injecting cells with genetic information. The payload is an elemental particle of a heavy metal coated with plasmid DNA. This technique is often simply referred to as bioballistics or biolistics."

    Let me repeat that, in all capital letters. BIOBALLISTICS.

    Also from the article:

    "The earliest custom manufactured geneguns (fabricated by Nelson Allen) used a 22 caliber nail gun cartridge to propel an extruded polyethylene cylinder (bullet) down a 22 cal. Douglas barrel. A droplet of the tungsten powder and genetic material was placed on the bullet and shot down the barrel at a lexan "stopping" disk with a petri dish below. The bullet welded to the disk and the genetic information blasted into the sample in the dish with a doughnut effect (devastation in the middle, a ring of good transformation and little around the edge)."

    Your word of the day is "transfect." Your concept of the day is FIRING A GUN AT SOMETHING TO CHANGE ITS DNA.

    (Appropriately enough, I first heard about gene guns from a drunken lady research scientist who dresses like this. It was her birthday, and I was buying her drinks and we were geeking about about SCIENCE. I was telling her about horizontal gene transfer from bloodfeeding parasites to their vertebrate hosts, and she told me about gene guns.)
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2010
    Genetic "engineering": shoot DNA fragments into cells, test the resulting mutations to find good ones.
    • CommentAuthorjonah
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2010
    The military applications of this tech scare me. I vaguely remember a sci-fi story(maybe it was a saturday morning kids show?) where gene weapons were used to mentally retard the enemy and I think their offspring too. Freaked me out for a long time.
  2.  (8870.4)
    I like how clunky it looks. Looks like something out of a 50s sci fi movie.
  3.  (8870.5)
    It looks like it's from the 50s because the tech is like 25 years old. Modern ones are a little sexier.

    Just to dispel some myths:

    -The current tech has no military applications. This is for firing single plasmids into single cells. They express some protein for a few days, and that's that. It's not going to kill anybody or make them turn on their buddies. It also needs like a hundred billion attachments to work right, so the resemblance to a gun is...spiritual, at best.

    -It barely has scientific's useful mostly for plant biologists as I understand it. Pesky cell walls make traditional transfection a pain. I think some insect cell culture uses it too.

    Anyway, it's still pretty badass. But it's been around for awhile and you don't need to run for the hills just yet.


    There was something really hackey and intense about the early ones, because basically you've got a .22 rifle with some suppressive attachments and it's delivering DNA coated glass beads, with all kinds of tubes and bells and whistles. I envision Theodore Roosevelt on the back of a mutant zebrhinoceroncephalopod carrying one every time I picture it.
    • CommentTimeSep 8th 2010 edited
    Much better invention than the makeup gun.
    • CommentTimeSep 8th 2010
    Prize to the first person to draw a believable zebrhinoceroncephalopod.
    • CommentTimeSep 8th 2010

    Haven't figured out where to put the rhino bit; needs enourmous hornage, or possibly noseage. What would a cephalopod snout look like? Anyway, need sleep. Will have to wait.

    Rhino-horned tentacles?
    • CommentTimeSep 9th 2010
    Wow, Image once it becomes refined. You could be mugged by someone who threatens to make you glow in the dark!
  4.  (8870.10)
    And it'd have to be even more frighteningly badass than Teddy Roosevelt himself.
  5.  (8870.11)
    Jeepers I stop paying attention for a little while and suddenly there's a prototype zebrhinoceroncephalopod staring me in the face.

    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2010
    I think extending the head as drawn into a rhino snout would work just fine.
  6.  (8870.13)
    Or even just giving the octopus Rhino horns.
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeSep 14th 2010
    Transform. Transpire. Transfect.
  7.  (8870.15)
    HAHA YES citruscreed I thought I was the only one who saw coilhouse and said that!
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2010
    I hope this eventually leads to gene gun parties, where it's sort of like paintball but instead of ending up covered in red and blue, everyone ends up with a fun new defect.