Difference between revisions of "1278: Giraffes"
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Revision as of 21:51, 5 April 2014
Title text: If you fund my Kickstarter...
Genetic engineering is the scientific approach towards altering and modifying the genome of organisms. In the process, DNA material is extracted from a source organism and then inserted into the genome of a host organism. It is thus possible to create hybrids between species that would not crossbreed naturally. The technique is also applied in order to expedite the sometimes lengthy process of selective breeding.
The comic suggests the creation of genetically modified giraffes. Following the recurring theme in the comics that dinosaurs and dinosaur-like traits make life more interesting, Randall expresses his desire to see genetic engineers insert DNA from extinct sauropods into the giraffe's genome, resulting in giraffes with very large and thick tails.
The idea of extracting and reproducing DNA material of dinosaurs appears most prominently in the 1993 motion picture Jurassic Park. The concept is regarded by scientists as rather implausible because DNA disintegrates soon after the death of the organism (read: around 500 years) and would not be preserved in fossils.
Furthermore, the science of genetic engineering is not yet able to accomplish major alterations in complex genomes. While mice and other small vertebrates have successfully been modified for research purposes, the daily use of genetic engineering is limited to plants and monads. The difficulty also increases when the species crossed are only distantly related to each other. The idea of adding dinosaur tails to giraffes can therefore be considered as fairly utopian.
In general, genetic engineering is a highly controversial topic with regards to the responsibility of science. While some praise the scientific progress and welcome the possibilities it brings, others fear that genetic science might enable man to alter the ways of nature and to presume the role of an almighty creator. The creation of hybrid animals (so called Chimeras) is often regarded as the ultimate hubris and the climax of moral decay. Some countries have therefore installed strong legal restrictions for the modification of genetic material extracted from humans and animals.
The title text refers to Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects. Any person who wants to start a creative project, but lacks the resources to do so, can create a Kickstarter campaign where donors can contribute donations. Usually, the owner of the Kickstarter promises exclusive benefits to donors of certain tiers. For example, the title text could well be finished to say If you fund my Kickstarter with a donation of $20 or more, I will give you exclusive access to my weekly blog on the development stages of the giraffosaurus. If you donate $100 or more, you can receive a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the giraffosaurus. Donations of $10,000 or more will earn your name in a raffle for ownership of the first three giraffosaurus.
While dinosaurs are a recurring trope since the beginning of xkcd, giraffes have been featured in some of the more recent what-if articles as a measurement of height.
Interestingly enough, there seems to have been a species of sauropod dinosaur that bore a certain likeness to the modern giraffe and has therefore been christened Giraffatitan.
- My Hobby:
- [Silhouette of a giraffe with a sauropod's tail.]
- Convincing genetic engineers that giraffes would look better if they had sauropod tails
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