Monday, June 25, 2012

Lonesome George, Stewart Brand, and De-extinction


The above news sparked a discussion on NPR's Talk Of The Nation. Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, spoke in detail about the possibility of bringing back extinct species including the dodo bird, woolly mammoths, and Lonesome George himself.


The most interesting thing Brand said was that this technology progresses even faster than computer technology. Whereas Moore's Law essentially states computer power doubles every eighteen months, Brand says the genetic science behind de-extinction multiplies eight times per year. His prediction for this decade: "semi-amateur" de-extinction specialists.

He also talks about Martha, the last of the passenger pigeons, who died in 1914 and how her death shocked millions of people into taking extinction seriously; when Europeans arrived in North America, there were 3-5 billion of the birds, "blacking out the skies." Brand theorizes this newfound awareness helped rescue the American bison.

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