lettuce - Column for 8/11

Ask Master of Sciences!

Your Scientific Genius

This Week: Stemming the Stem Cell Debate

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Dear Master of Sciences,

I've tried to understand this whole "stem cell" debate, but I'm confused -- what are stem cells exactly? What is their medical promise?

Derek in Oakland CA

Dear Derek,

Many scientists believe that stem cells hold the cure for numerous genetic disorders, from diabetes and Alzheimer’s, to spinal cord damage and Parkinson’s Disease. The problem? Stem cells can only be harvested by killing tiny human embryos, puppies and Santa Claus. Some hope the technology may exist in which the embryos wouldn't need to be killed. One method under investigation involves merciless playground teasing, which would lead the embryos to suicide, or playing the Van Halen song “Panama” loudly outside the embryo, until the stem cells voluntarily gave them selves up.

Either way, the research could lead to cures -- because these cells can repair damaged tissue. For example, heart muscle damaged by stroke, heart attacks or nasty breakups could be injected with stem cells, which would turn into healthy heart cells, thus giving the patient a long, lonely life. Similarly, a dance club losing money could inject these cells a crowd of losers, and they would mitate into cool, healthy club goers, albeit poser wannabes.

And that's not all. Did you know that stem cells have been found to be the most efficient fuel for fusion reactors? Time machines run 75% faster (not that it really matters) when made entirely out of stem cells. Over 3 million couples a year celebrate their love for each other with Stem Cell rings, bracelets and necklaces. And sprinkle just a few stem cells on your garden, and enjoy 32-ton zucchinis – all year long!

Anyone who is against stem cell research is insane, addicted to injection drugs, and gets erections from making Christopher Reeve cry.

So far, however, there is no proof that stem cells will solve all of life's problems. But tests with rats have been so impressive, there's no reason not to make stem cells the empty vessel in which to pour all your medical hopes and dreams.

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Dear Master of Sciences,

When will the next ice age be?

Gary in Springfield, IL

Dear Gary,

Scientists are of many different minds over when the planet's next major climactic shift may occur. Some evidence suggests we will see some major changes in the next three thousand years. Other data offers next May, during one of the later weekends for global cooling, as reservations were found at the Holy Oaks Retreat and Conference Center in Casa Verde, California, which would be very convenient for the Planet.

However, no vegetarian caterers in the area are free that month. Mars has made a generous offer to make some food for the age, with Venus and Neptune promising some help, but naturally Earth has concerns about having an amateur take on the huge task of spreading glaciers up and down the poles.

So we may not know when, but we do know that it will happen – so plan accordingly! Earth is registered at Crate and Barrel, REI, and Nordstroms.

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Dear Master of Sciences,

I'm not against space exploration -- I mean, I'm all for NASA's unmanned missions to Mars and elsewhere. But what’s the point of the International Space Station? Seems to be just an expensive boondoggle.

David in Newport News, VA

Dear David,

Au contraire! The International Space Station is a vital key to America's, and the world's understanding of space shit. For instance: Digital watches float in space! We’re it not for Space Station research, our understanding of floating watches would be mere supposition. Teen superstars N'Sync met, and recorded their first two albums aboard the station – all while floating! Vital research into floating snakes never would have been completed without the International Space Hepatology lab. Now, granted, that lab was for the study of floating livers, but somehow it became infested with snakes.

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Dear Master of Sciences,

What are the real threats of genetically modified food?

Elliot in Washington, DC

Dear Elliot,

Allow me to be to state, inequitably, that there is absolutely nothing to fear from genetically modified food. Corn, wheat, tomatoes, even salmon, have all been improved by genetic alterations that make grain yields bigger, produce stay fresh, and meat contents larger than ever.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to get into my spaceship and explore the galaxy for a while.

2 Years Later

Oh no! I’m crashing onto a strange jungle planet! Hey, there are humans here. Hello? What are you all running from! Oh no!

Tomato on Horseback: Kill them. Kill them all.

Wheat Carrying Spear: They want to see this human who speaks like a genetically modified vegetable or grain.

Salmon on Horseback: Don’t forget about me!

Oh my god! A planet where genetically modified foods evolved from men? (*spies Statue of Liberty, covered in fruit stains*) Oh no! You did it! You actually did it! You bastards! You bastards!

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