249Joined Oct 2020


DonorsChoose (recommended by an Experiment friend). I haven’t seen yet whether these projects do report back, but the infrastructure is there for following up about whether the project went as expected.

I used to do transcribing with timestamps. I met some cool people and learned a lot about the topics I was working on that way. It was a good remote flex-time freelance job for me at 20. I rarely do transcription work anymore, but I would be happy to do a call about what I learned and my setup with anyone considering this line of work.

RE #3, the company's website includes a helpful infographic. It sounds like they added an optogenetic control on the Z chromosome (I couldn't find anything more specific than that). The breeding hens contain one altered and one normal Z chromosome, and the breeding roosters are normal. Female chicks receive a normal W from their mother and a normal Z from their father and are "wild-type", but male chicks receive an edited Z chromosome from their mother and a normal Z chromosome from their father. Shining blue light on all the eggs "deactivates" the edited Z chromosome in male eggs, disrupting development when the embryo is "only two layers of cells." Maybe we can find out more about how the optogenetic control works if someone with paid access searches for Dr. Yuval Cinnamon's papers? I tried a title search and didn't find anything. 

Oooh, I'm hopeful this technology could be used for identifying insect stings too! Insect antivenom faces some similar challenges.

If you had other small predators around to keep the rodent populations in check, such as weasels and hawks, maybe you could get away with removing snakes. Rodent population booms are undesirable because rodents carry diseases which can be infect humans, pets, and livestock. Rodent poison isn't a good alternative because the poisons also kill scavengers (dogs, owls, etc.) that eat the poisoned rodents, and are harmful at sub-lethal doses. Birds of prey  aren't enough to keep a rodent population in check because they can't access most of the places where rodents like to hide, so predators are also needed which can travel along the ground and enter burrows. 

Predator removal has been tried repeatedly, usually with negative consequences on the ecosystem. Australia in particular has lots of case studies about humans trying to manage small pests without enough predators, and Yellowstone has a famous case study about the value of reintroducing predators. Keeping predators around is unpleasant, but the human effort involved in compensating for their absence is expensive. 

I think keeping the non-venomous snakes mostly covers this concern though! 

The only upside I know of provided by venomous snakes specifically is that they are a source of very complex specialized proteins with potential medical applications, such as anticoagulants and vasoconstrictors. 

What interaction experience are you wishing for, which you imagine an app would provide? 

Fungal infections are also large contributors to the recent declines in bat and amphibian populations. 

RE nature walks, I’ve found personally that I get a lot more perspective and relief when I’m somewhere it smells really “green”. A thickly verdant yard is better than an impoverished forest. I think it may have something to do with what the plants give off: a small, full greenhouse has that restorative effect on me without the walking.

(No biomed background, just an avid reader of science news) Maybe you already ruled this out based on your specifics, but could lab-grown mini-organs be a suitable third option for your experimental ideas? That in-between choice might offer an end-run around both the mouse-to-human translation problem and the overhead and slowness of experimenting with human subjects within the time frame of a Master’s. Caveats: your estimate of the moral status of mini-brains, the smaller existing knowledge base of how to care for them and interpret results, and possibly cost. I don’t know if there are existing mini-organ models for Alzheimer’s as there are mouse models, sorry.

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