Midterms + Biotechnology- Jennie Wong

The midterms we had for this class were far more creative than the midterms we had in any of my other classes. I found it very interesting what everyone in our class came up with. Some of the projects that stood out to me included the terminatrix, the perspective house, and the termite tunnel biomimicry project. What’s even more amazing is how feasible many of the projects were; I could really see some of these projects coming to reality. That is probably what I like most about this class – that it encourages creativity, and that it makes creativity become reality. There are so many other disciplines in which that is not the case- everything is so cut and dry, formulaic, systematic…It’s refreshing to have a class where that all doesn’t matter. However, after seeing what other people did, I wish I could re-do my own project. I would definitely change some things about how the purpose of my project, and I would change some components of the project idea itself. On the green sheet it says that the final will be an extension of what we did for our midterm. If that is the case, then I hope I will be able to change it all then. I want to change it also because I was inspired by others’ projects; their ideas sparked some new ideas of my own that I think would have made more creative projects than the one I did. Oh well – perhaps that is one of the key concepts of science – learning from others and what they do and then being inspired by it and improving next time.

This lecture on Biotechnology was one of my favorites so far because it was so interesting to see what has been done in the field. I feel like it is more relevant because I can relate to it – I’d heard of more of the projects before, and it was just interesting to see what has been and can be done with the human body. When I was doing further research online on the field of study, I found a huge amoutn of information and an amazing number of projects. Things have been done with cell factories, genome analysis,with plants and animals, immunology, neuroscience, molecular infrastructure, etc. It’s incredible how we can enhance and explore the human body with technology (though I do think there are ethical issues to a certain extent- there is a fine line).

The most intriguing project was the Biosphere project. I cannot believe that the team of eight really trapped thmeselves inside the dome for so long and did not interact with outside. I looked up more information on it, and I actually came across an article from the New York Times with accusations of tampering with the experiment. Here are some of the accusations by former employees/ people closely involved with the project:

-a crew member who left for medical treatment brought back a duffel bag full of supplies; the material included a supply of seals that are supposed to prove the airlock doors have not been opened.

-computer programs that monitor conditions inside the dome were designed to permit tampering with the data.

The article reads: “But in the four months that the Biosphere 2 experiment has operated, project sponsors have pumped in fresh air from outside. They have admitted to secretly installing a machine to remove carbon dioxide from the air. They have acknowledged that the artificial world was stocked with food ahead of time.”

This is highly disappointing if the charges of fraud and deception are true. The whole experiemtn is discredited if tampering really did occur…Does anyone know what became of these accusations in the end? (I will admit, though, that even if this project was flawed, it was still a highly inventive project that may pave the way for more similar experiments…)

the biosphere

http://cordis.europa.eu/biotech/src/projects.htm

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE2D61438F935A15752C0A964958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2

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