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I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

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Just for once, I'm going to copy something over from boingboing.net.

So somebody was looking at genetic engineering and trying to come up with useful things to do with it. They came up with a way to make a plant turn different colors in the presence of high emissions of nitrous oxide (NO2).
But what do you do with that?
Detect land mines, of course.
  • Both cool AND intelligent. Very impressive.
    • I always find myself impressed when someone comes up with something Completely New for some technology. Using genetic engineering to make bigger carrots? Whoop-de-doo. What, the normal carrots aren't big enough for you or something?
      But making something simple- cheap to produce, and in all likelihood quite foolproof- that could save lives? That impresses the hell out of me.
      • Yeah, agreed. I do find it impressive when they genetically improve crops to be drought- or similiarly resistant specifically for poorer regions; for example, drought-resistant strains of millet that they've been trying to come up with and grow in Ethiopia. If nothing else, it may prevent another 'We Are The World' from coming about.
  • Oh yeah, I heard about that a few months ago. Insanely cool.
  • That's really amazing. Not just that someone figured out how to do it but that someone was willing to research how to do it. Most of the countries swamped with unexploded landmines are dirt poor so it's not exactly going to be a big money maker for them. More power to them.
  • First stop, Indochina, I guess. This is an example of the kind of thing an American company would never bother doing.
    • Yeah- it isn't something that the average American company would do (and I can't think of one that would, truth to tell)- and yet they've guaranteed themselves a friendly market for any genetically-engineered stuff they produce in future, haven't they. And really- how could you sell this? The seeds, sure- but once the plants are on the ground they'll germinate if they're tended properly, neh?
  • That's bloody wonderful. They *had* been training animals to sniff them out - rats, was it? Or dogs? - that could detect by smell the very small amounts of explosive. (Pigs?) But this, dude, you don't even have to dig the bitches up. Tell everybody not to step on the red plants, and warn off the colorblind guys, and you won't have to spend tons of money your poor war-devastated country doesn't have on actually getting RID of the things until later. Awesome.

    Plus plants are cheap (certainly compared to trained professional animals or people), so nonprofits can buy them for folks who need them. And I believe they've been trying to sneak in some UN treaty provisions forcing (i.e. politely asking) for land mine cleanup and removal.
  • "In fact, it's a gas"

    And by putting one in a dentist's operating room, you could help determine to what extent the staff are having their fertility compromised by N2O mask leakage, which is also said to cause B-vitamin depletion over time.
  • It would be nice

    This is what my brother does. He hasn't done any of this cool stuff because companies aren't paying for it. His company made higher yield corn and made it sweeter. But his company was bought by Bayer then they shut down the division. So the people that are uninformed about just what bio-tech is/does (ie: Bush voters) have made it so that it is impossible to make the money to fund these companies. They don't bother to learn that bio-tech is not doing genetic engineering using nuclear waste and dead fetuses. For the most part they mix 2 plants together. They did not kill butterflies, they made the corn resist the bugs that butterflies eat off the corn thereby reducing the need for pesticides which are probably not that good for the butterflies either or anyone else for that matter. So the butterflies are probably better off eating bugs in nature. Anyway, I ramble. So really, it's the whole "Organic" campaign that has ruined it for the US to make land-mine finding plants. And the sad irony is that Organic food is poorly regulated. Which leads to abuses. So the food is often worse for you than bio-tech food because what makes Organic, Organic is ill defined. Sort of like "Free Range" meat or Herbal Supplements. It's the same simpletons who are against Stem Cell research at work here.
  • I still think it's a waste of valuable time and resources.

    There is a perfect, organic, non-polluting, all-natural way to detect the presence of live land-mines.

    Native children.
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