Sunday, December 17, 2006


Parahumans are hypothetical, heavily modified humans, most often referring to hybrids of humans and other species. Parahumans are most likely to be created using synthetic biology techniques of genetic engineering, but may also involve chimera technology, which mixes distinct populations of cells into a single embryo.

American president George W. Bush spoke out against "human-animal hybrids" in his 2006 State of the Union address.[1] In 2005 the US Patent Office rejected a patent application by Stuart Newman, backed by anti-biotech activist Jeremy Rifkin, on a human-animal hybrid. [2] This application was intended not to commercialize the technology but to call attention to and ultimately suppress it. [3]

Technically such hybrids already exist; for example, faulty human heart valves are routinely replaced with ones taken from cows and pigs. This surgery effectively makes the recipient a human-animal chimera, though there is no visible effect. Scientists have also done extensive research into the combination of genes from different species. e.g. adding human (and other animal) genes to bacteria and farm animals to mass-produce insulin and spider silk proteins. Note that individual genes can be transplanted between species without the transplantation of whole cells.

Resource from wikipedia

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


The oldest detailed drawing of Stonehenge, found in a 1440 manuscript, the Scala Mundi

They got the date wrong by some 3,000 years, but the oldest detailed drawing of Stonehenge, apparently based on first hand observation, has turned up in a 15th century manuscript.

The little sketch is a bird's eye view of the stones, and shows the great trilithons, the biggest stones in the monument, each made of two pillars capped with a third stone lintel, which stand in a horseshoe in the centre of the circle. Only three are now standing, but the drawing, found in Douai, northern France, suggests that in the 15th century four of the original five survived.

In the Scala Mundi, the Chronicle of the World, Merlin is given credit for building Stonehenge between 480 and 486, when the Latin text says he "not by force, but by art, brought and erected the giant's ring from Ireland". Modern science suggests that the stones went up from 2,500 BC, with the bluestone outer circle somehow transported from west Wales, and the double decker bus-size sarsen stones dragged 30 miles across Salisbury plain.

The drawing, recently identified by the art historian Christian Heck, has never been exhibited, but according to the Art Newspaper it will be seen next year in an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, marking the 300th anniversary of the Society of Antiquaries.

There are two earlier images of Stonehenge, one in the British Library and one in the Parker Library in Cambridge, but the Douai drawing is unique in attempting to show how the monument was built.

It correctly shows tenon joints piercing the lintel, a timber construction technique, although in fact the real Stonehenge tenons only go partly into the top stone.

Stonehenge is rare among prehistoric landscapes, because its sheer bulk meant it was never lost. An Anglo Saxon poet wondered about the origin of the stones and inspired some of the earliest photographs.