Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Science

Scientists Produce Fearless Mice 499

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the no-cheese-is-safe dept.
Dotnaught writes "According to New Scientist, a Rutgers University geneticist has found that turning off a specific gene for the protein stathmin makes mice fearless. The story speculates that this research might improve treatment for phobias. It does not mention obvious military applications for the discovery. As noted in this Naval Officer's guide for managing fatigue, the use of amphetamines to stay alert, followed by sedatives to sleep, has a long tradition. Genetic treatments may offer an alternative to pharmaceuticals."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Produce Fearless Mice

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:45AM (#14060771)

    These mice escape and breed in the wild. Enormous of fearless mice terrorize the world's cat population. It's not going to be pretty.

    • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:01AM (#14060824) Homepage Journal
      Three mice were sitting in a bar, each trying to impress the others with how tough they were.

      The first one said, "When I see a mousetrap, I deliberately set it off, bench press the bar fifty times, then snack on the cheese."

      The second one, not to be outdone, said, "Yeah? Well, every morning when I get out of bed, I stir in some cream and rat poison in my coffee. It gives me a good buzz that really wakes me up and gets me going."

      They both look at the third mouse who, after a few seconds, gets up and says, "I don't have time for this bullshit. I've got to go home and fuck the cat."
      • Now all we need is a fearless cat and we have Itchy and Scratchy for real.
      • Reminds of that Guinness rhyme (feel free to substitute your favorite brew):

        Some Guinness was spilt on the bar-room floor
        Just around closing one night,
        And a wee little mousie crept out of his hole
        And into the pale moonlight.
        He lapped up all of that dark frothy brew
        And back on his haunches he sat,
        And all the night long you could hear that mouse roar,
        "Bring on that god-damned cat!"

        Getzen

    • In fact this situation is possible and not funny at all.
      • In fact this situation is possible and not funny at all.
        It was the night before Christmas and a creature was stirring. It was a mouse, a grey mouse, a lean and hungry grey mouse.
        A slight breeze shuffled discarded newspapers in the grimy alley as the mouse crept a little closer to its prey. The tip of its scaly tail twitched in anticipation as it tensed its muscles for the leap.

        With saliva dripping from its fangs, the mouse covered the intervening centimetres in a huge bound, jaws fastening viciously onto its prey, a high-pitched growl issuing from deep from within its belly. Snarling, the ferocious rodent tore at the flesh of its enemy, and the rottweiler leapt to its feet with a surprised yelp.

        The mouse, every muscle shaking with anger and bloodlust, bit deeper through the rottweiler's fur, amost drawing blood, until the startled dog nipped its head off and swallowed it.
        No, you're right, it isn't funny.
        • ... and for that extra helping of protein hunt for insects and in the case of rats even small birds and other mice. Both rats and mice also eat unhatched eggs. They don't have fangs like dogs and cats, but anybody ever bitten by a rat will tell you they have razor sharp incisors and a powerful jaw and the bite hurts plenty.

          However... to set the record straight, like most other mammals a rat will
          only attack a human when cornered or provoked. I suggest you do not pickup
          or otherwise try to pet the rat you find
      • by GuyWithLag (621929) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:47AM (#14060986)
        In fact, I've seen a cat being chased by a mouse. Yes, a mouse, not a rat... Talk about a Bizarro-style experience ....
        • by WillerZ (814133) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:59AM (#14061022) Homepage
          Dude, that was Tom & Jerry.
        • I've seen cats being bullied by a bird. At my folks' place, they had this bird fly in one day, some yellow tropical one. Because the bird wouldn't go away, and nobody responded to the ad they put up, they decided to keep it, so they got a cage and all that.

          They also have two cats. I tend to attribute all kinds of things to cats, and one of them is that they have a sense of what they're allowed to do and what not. I guess the cats figured that this bird was part of the household, and somebody would get very
          • by kryten_nl (863119) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:45AM (#14061647)
            Eventually, the bird flew away, never to return.

            That's what the cat told you, wasn't it?
          • We had a sulpher crested cockateel; when let out for exercise the bird would sit on the curtain rod and actually call the cat. When the cat came in the room, the bird would swoop down just above the cat's reach. Eventualy the cat grew tired of being teased and started to reduce the height of his jumps, in return the bird swooped lower untill the cat finaly nailed the bird and sent him sailing across the floor. While the cat's feet flailed to get traction, the bird was getting up and shook the daze out of hi
          • by jasen666 (88727) on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:27AM (#14063250)
            We've got a 25 yr old Mexican Red-headed parrot that's a holy terror. He's not big, a little larger than a cockatiel, but he's a mean bastard. The thing loves my wife, gets all cudly and shit, but anyone else that comes near the cage, and he's out trying to tear you apart. Took a chunk out of the cat once, and the cat won't go near that room anymore.
    • by bersl2 (689221) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:17AM (#14060887) Journal
      Here's what I was thinking:

      NIMH unavailable for comment.
    • lots of dead mice.
    • Reminds me of Krazy Kat- early 20th century comic strip and one of the all-time classic comic strips. Mouse, cat, dog- standard comic setup.

      Except, Krazy is deeply in love with Ignatz Mouse. Ignatz, meanwhile, finds his primary purpose in life is to throw bricks at Krazy's head. Krazy Kat interprets the hurling of said bricks as thoughtful tokens of Ignatz's affections. The dog loves Krazy, and so spends his time trying to put Ignatz in jail.

    • If you put a fearless mouse in the wild, it will die like anything else that lacks a healthy sense of which dangers are worth avoiding.
  • Good old PCP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ReformedExCon (897248) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:46AM (#14060775)
    Whatever happened to the good old days of pumping soldiers full of angel dust to rid them of fear?

    The non-military uses for such a treatment are pretty far-reaching. Would it be able to cure people that suffer anxiety attacks? Could children with night terrors be cured?

    If the rats don't feel fear, do they also lose understanding of danger? That would be a pretty bad mutation.
    • Re:Good old PCP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by general_re (8883) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:50AM (#14060788) Homepage
      If the rats don't feel fear, do they also lose understanding of danger? That would be a pretty bad mutation.

      My first thought also. There are some situations where fear is an entirely appropriate response - lose it, and unwarranted risks may start to become a problem.

    • Re:Good old PCP (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blincoln (592401)
      Whatever happened to the good old days of pumping soldiers full of angel dust to rid them of fear?

      Um, source?

      From my experience, PCP would be a terrible thing to give soldiers. You'd end up with a Jacob's Ladder scenario where they become afraid of - and attack - friends and enemies at random.
      • Re:Good old PCP (Score:3, Informative)

        by EiZei (848645)
        You'd end up with a Jacob's Ladder scenario where they become afraid of - and attack - friends and enemies at random.

        Probably not unless overdosed. However PCP would still be utterly useless because it's a strong anesthetic, the soldiers would be just staring blankly and would have difficulties understanding even the most basic orders. You'd be better off giving them bottles of hard liquor.
    • Re:Good old PCP (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vintermann (400722)
      I don't think rats have very much "understanding" of danger. Why should they? They have their instincts. Well, at least until now.
    • this mutation would have dominated the species milions of years ago.

      In a world of cats, fear is the superior evolutionary trait.
      • Not necessarily. Darwinian evolution doesn't necessarily dictate that the best mutation wins out. It generally suggests that the mutation best adapted to the species' circumstances will survive, but really, anything that works well enough to allow further breeding will still continue to exist. That's why we have all sorts of absurd animals in nature right alongside the magnificent ones, and why in our own species various forms of genetic disease and handicap continue (although for the latter, our own social
  • by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:49AM (#14060784) Homepage
    The one were Scarecrow does Batman with a gas that took away all his fear?

    That was awesome.

  • by mindflow (557496) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:50AM (#14060787)
    Now scientist need to figure out how to make theese mice pilot planes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    of those poor elephants! Or ladies in the kitchen standing on a high chair!
  • by stirz (839003) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:51AM (#14060790)
    Giving Methamphetamines to soldies to "stay alert" and to "strengthen confidence" has -sadly enough- a long tradition. As Wikipedia tells us [wikipedia.org] even the Nazis spreaded the drug among their Wehrmacht. What's the point of a government saying "Stay away from drugs!" on the one hand and willingly giving it to soldiers on the other?

    Seems alright, I quit military service a long time ago...

    Regards

    Stirz
    • What's the point of a government saying "Stay away from drugs!"

      That's all you needed to say. There isn't two hands. Governments should butt the hell out and mind their own business.
    • by skinfitz (564041) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:06AM (#14060847) Journal
      How is this different to a Government saying "Don't kill people!" then putting guns and high explosives into the hands of soldiers?

      The only logic here is 'do what we say and don't question anything.'
    • by Mjlner (609829) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:19AM (#14060895) Journal
      "As Wikipedia tells us even the Nazis spreaded the drug among their Wehrmacht."

      What do you mean, "even the Nazis"? A totalitarian government, emphasizing the military and denial of the individual, would be almost expected to do this. What is more scary, is that democracies, which we expect to respect and defend the rights of the individual, even to the point of restricting what the police and military can do, are chemically altering the bodies and minds of their soldiers.

      • The purpose of amphetamines is to keep the "push" going; constantly moving forward against the enemy and keeping them off balance, unable to regroup. It's a way to win a battle and keep more of your soldiers alive. It's a standard strategy in all modern armies and would be used regardless of the availability of drugs, the drugs just help them stay awake and stay alive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:52AM (#14060795)
    Looks like Isadore Klein beat them to the punch. He created a fearless mouse in 1942. http://www.toonopedia.com/mightym.htm [toonopedia.com]
  • by Plunky (929104) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:53AM (#14060799)
    Come on Mickey, are you a MAN or a MOUSE?

    AAAAAAAAAGGHHHH!
  • by Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (221748) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:54AM (#14060801) Homepage
    More mice have been committing suicide by cat.
    • by Ford Prefect (8777)
      More mice have been committing suicide by cat.

      You joke, but there's already a cat parasite called toxoplasma where the complete life-cycle involves using a mouse or rat as a host, in addition to the final destination of a cat. To increase the chances of that happening, the parasite appears to mess with the rodents' brains, making them more likely to take risks and even actively search for the scent of cat urine. If that rodent gets eaten, the immature parasites can break free and make themselves at home in
  • by Mjlner (609829) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:55AM (#14060807) Journal

    ...or just plain stupid?

  • the use of amphetamines to stay alert, followed by sedatives to sleep,

    Or vice versa. [thinkgeek.com]
  • by vodkamattvt (819309) on Friday November 18, 2005 @02:58AM (#14060821) Homepage
    So we got fear, now there are a few more emotions to get rid of and we can make Equilibrium come true. Now that's practical applicaton of science.
    • /me thinks you didn't watch Equilibrium close enough...removing all those emotions was a *bad* thing, except for when Christian Bale killed all those guys that tried to take his puppy.
  • by wenchmagnet (745079) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:01AM (#14060827)
    He's The Best
    He's The Greatest
    He's The Greatest Secret Agent In The World!
    He's The Ace - He's Amazing...
    He's the Strongest... He's The Quickest.... He's The Best!
  • GeneEnhanced mice children grow up even faster without fear of their parents. Leaving them without a rigid sense of boundaries, invarively leading to the inhanced mice killing their parents for the inheritance.

    Till the day when they have their own children, these second generation child mice reject their parents just like the previous generation rejected their parents.
    Leaving killing the child mice as the only solution, before they become too grownup and strong to stop.

    Thus putting an end to the whole ex

  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:09AM (#14060858) Journal
    The two certainly do not equate.
    • Indeed -- it sounds to me like what they've really discovered is the fundamental difference between predators and prey.

      Predators don't panic at every little oddity in their environment. They are much more inclined to explore new stuff than run from it, and to stop and think rather than run away screaming. They learn fear of bad things from experience, rather than just being generally afraid of everything. They can relax, because they learn that not everything in their environment is a threat.

      Conversely, pre
  • by circletimessquare (444983) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <erauqssemitelcric>> on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:14AM (#14060873) Homepage Journal
    people nowadays like to talk about fear in ideological and propagandistic terms, but fear keeps you alive. it keeps you from wandering into traffic or picking fights with random people. if this were ever applied to humans, you wouldn't have superhuman heroic fighters for the military, you'd have guys shooting themselves with their own guns and jumping off roofs... why not, when you're not afraid of anything, including death
    • Fear (in moderation), like so many things in life, is essential. Deciding which fears to heed is the tricky part.
    • While you do have a point, your assumptions aren't 100% accurate.
      I remember reading an article about a woman who was born with exactly this genetic fault. I don't remember if this research has anything to do with this specific person, or if it even worked in a similar way.
      She didn't do stupid stuff like beating people up or jumping off a roof. Keep in mind that humans don't completely rely on instincts to judge most situations. She was at least as intelligent as other people, but she totally lacked common s
    • Fear is an emotion that rules our lives from moment to moment. Losing fear doesn't mean losing sanity, actually is usually means the opposite.
    • by UserGoogol (623581) on Friday November 18, 2005 @05:16AM (#14061240)
      I don't think so. Fear is not the source of all human behavior. Without fear, people could still say, "Well... I could jump off the roof, but then I'd probably break a few bones, and that would hurt, and I don't like being hurt." (After all, you are arguing right now that there is something inherently bad about being shot in the head, surely a fearless person might be able to see your argument.)

      Fear is merely a mental shortcut. Instead of rationally arguing that doing something will lead to an unadvantageous situation, our brains merely automatically develop fears of the situation and we avoid it quasi-instinctually.

      That said, if you were to completely remove fear without changing anything else, I do not doubt that shit would happen. Human beings are nowhere near as smart as they could be, and are probably not capable of thinking things out clearly enough. As it stands, we probably need mental crutches like fear until we are able to augment our intelligence.

      But still, we should not imply that fear and desire are the only things capable of driving people. Fear is distinct from pain, desire is distinct from happiness.
    • it keeps you from wandering into traffic or picking fights with random people.
      Ok, I know this is Slashot, but I'm still surprised that people aren't even considering the application of intelligence.

      Take away someone's fear and suddenly they become a freakin' moron? Give me a break...

      A fearless, stupid person will do stupid things. A fearless, intelligent person will do great things.
    • Fear in life is like salt in the food.

      Too much and it will make the food inedible.
      Too little will make the food bland and tasteless.

      The trick is not to be paralyzed from fear, but use it for good. To stay alive and avoid situations which are clearly not in the best interest of the people involved, securing your child, etc.

      There is nothing wrong with fear, on the contrary, if you feel fear, then you're still alive. How about that!
  • by NoSuchGuy (308510) <do-not-harvest-m ... dot@spa.mtrap.de> on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:15AM (#14060875) Journal
    What about a laser mounted on the backs of these mice?

    Oh, never mind
  • by ultranova (717540) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:25AM (#14060917)

    It does not mention obvious military applications for the discovery.

    That's because there is no military applications. You don't want the soldiers to become fearless, because if they do, they might say: "This war is wrong. I used to be too afraid to do anything about it, but now I suddenly feel fearless, and will get the heck away from here !" Basically, fearless soldiers will refuse to obey when given orders that they think are wrong, and cannot be forced to obey by fear of punishment.

    What you want is soldiers that are more afraid of their commanding officers than the enemy; that way they'll follow orders.

    • fear is biological, not ideological

      fear is about avoiding predators, not what kind of partisan brainwashed victim you are, either from the right or the left

      but don't let me stating the obvious stop you from spewing more of your braindead propaganda against more of their braindead propaganda

      right or left, i'm so sick of partisans

    • there is [sic] no military applications.

      I agree, there are no military applications. Irrespective of what you think about current military activities.

      You don't want the soldiers to become fearless, because if they do, they might say: "This war is wrong. I used to be too afraid to do anything about it, but now I suddenly feel fearless, and will get the heck away from here !"

      To be fair, fear is also a part of what keeps soldiers from taking stupid risks in a firefight. Whatever else you say about the army

    • by varjag (415848) on Friday November 18, 2005 @05:13AM (#14061230)
      What you want is soldiers that are more afraid of their commanding officers than the enemy; that way they'll follow orders.

      It is a bit of oversimplification. Soldiers can be motivated by things other than fear: the sense of friendship, pride, the feeling of responsibility and (misguided or not) patriotism. History is full with exapmles of people knowingly and willingly sacrificing their life for good of others, ranging from Spartans to Soviet atheists (neither of those could even hope for a decent afterlife: the void of Hades ain't much better than simple non-existance). I believe that in Iraq fights of today you could find such instances at both sides involved, too.

      That said, your general argument remains valid. Humans for high command are mostly numbers, and are operated from statistical point of view. They would hate to rely solely for underlings' loyalty.
    • Basically, fearless soldiers will refuse to obey when given orders that they think are wrong, and cannot be forced to obey by fear of punishment.

      My impression is that the vast majority of soldiers obey orders because they have been brainwashed into wanting to obey them. You only have to listen to US Marines or watch those Iraq training videos to see that fear of punishment is way down the line of motivations: these guys actually believe the bullshit their leaders feed them.

      TWW

      • Did you see the interview with the tank drivers when they were talking about what kinds of music they were playing while on a "mission"? It was clear that whatever other motivations they had for killing enjoyment was undeniably a factor.

        I think we overlook how much fun it is to kill. It does satisfy a deep urging we have as animals. It's why people hunt, It's why children enjoy ripping legs off of grasshoppers, I knew a guy who used to buy mice and hit them with a golf club. There is a tremendous fun elemen
    • I'm not so sure (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)
      We're a big bag of complex chemical equillibria and messy neural wiring. We give names like "love" and "fear" to aspects of the subjective experience of existing this way, but they're seldom precise enough to be something you can switch on and off. You're bound to get either more than you intend or less than you intend, or both.

      Fear would seem to be a good candidate for a neurobiologically switchable emotion, but even fear is more complex than it seems at first glance.

      I saw a photo in some book I read on
  • by rathehun (818491) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:32AM (#14060933) Homepage
    ....have a large stock of cheese, for our new....
  • by TheLoneDanger (611268) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:35AM (#14060940)
    Why the hell shouldn't they be fearless, when they are now regenerating [slashdot.org] too? Goddammit, we have to stop this madness before we are overrun by marauding fearless regenerating mice. The irony is that we need many, many more fearful, even irrationally fearful peopl to avert this impending horror. Scream with me people! "The Mice are coming! The Mice are coming!"
  • by Julian Morrison (5575) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:38AM (#14060956)
    "Hey check this out, I'm not in the least afraid anymore. Hmm, I wonder what it feels like to plough an airplane into the ground on full afterburner. Whee, fast! Hello mr cornfield. Ooh, a scarecrow. My, that ground sure is big."
  • hmmm, complex, do we now get to see George Bush and Tony Blair tell us drugs are ok as long as you're one of the good guys? Maybe the crackheads who live down the road from me in that smashed up house are actually ultra elite commandos keeping me safe from the Axis of Evil Unknown But They Are Really There Terrorists which are all around us these days? maybe they're a bit like the the rangers in Lord of the Rings, I think they are outcasts but actually their curious ways and p*ssing in our hedge is just a c
  • USB (Score:5, Funny)

    by linumax (910946) on Friday November 18, 2005 @03:44AM (#14060977)
    Does this have any impact on USB mice?
    • Re:USB (Score:2, Funny)

      by lw54 (73409)
      Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato
  • Can't wait till I can get rid of my fear/disgust of earwigs! Those fuckers are nasty!
  • About forty years ago, a neighbour's child was damaged by a rare adverse reaction to a vaccination (cannot remember which one). One of the most striking affects was that the child became completely without fear of anything. By this, I do not mean antisocial in any way. He was a really nice kid but had lost the capacity to feel fear. The consensus was that this was very dangerous.
  • Fear is the path to the Dark Side! Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering...
  • by wizardguy (245100)
    No more Sith Lords since we know it is fear which leads to the Dark Side.
  • by surfcow (169572) on Friday November 18, 2005 @05:07AM (#14061207) Homepage
    Ok, so they found a clever way to turn down fear.

    I wonder if they can use this knowledge to do the opposite: turn fear way up? How might that be used & abused? Say around election time?

    The idea is ... scary.
  • I for one (Score:2, Redundant)

    by squoozer (730327)

    bow down to our fearless mice overloads (and may I strongly suggest you do the same).

  • Didn't Apple already develop things like this [apple.com]?

    "They're laboratory mice, their fears have been sliced..."
  • by Karem Lore (649920) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:30AM (#14061431)
    They are called lemmings...
  • by smchris (464899) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:16AM (#14061552)
    This seems like a profoundly unwise idea. And unless they can reactivate the gene at decommissioning, troops who survive their fearlessness better report to the Soylent Green Division for final debriefing. (And why wouldn't they? They're fearless.)

  • by McD (209994) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:13AM (#14061757)
    ...a Rutgers University geneticist...

    Rutgers? Didn't we read about them loosing three plague mice into the wild [slashdot.org] a few months back?

    I don't know what these Rutgers scientists are up to, but I think we can all agree that "Fearless Wild Plague Rodents" would be an excellent name for a rock and roll band.

Ever notice that even the busiest people are never too busy to tell you just how busy they are?

Working...