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Australia Biotech

Australian Billionaire Wants To Build Jurassic Park-Style Resort 409

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
lukehopewell1 writes "Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has already floated a plan to rebuild the Titanic to scale and sail it around the world, but now the mining magnate has found a new use for his money: cloning dinosaurs. Palmer reportedly wants to clone a dinosaur and let it loose in one of his resorts in Queensland, Australia. The billionaire has already been in touch with the scientists who helped clone Dolly the sheep to see what it would take to clone a dinosaur from DNA."
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Australian Billionaire Wants To Build Jurassic Park-Style Resort

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  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Elgonn (921934) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:14AM (#40838947)
    I don't care how stupid, impossible, and just damn right eccentric this sounds.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:21AM (#40838989)
      Crichton was trying to make a point with his Jurassic Park novels. It was a cautionary tale about "the law of unintended consequences".
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:23AM (#40839003)

        Doesn't it come across as "never do anything because there might be unintended consequences", though? I mean, the point of unintended consequences is you can't predict whether anything you do will have bad ones or not.

        • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

          by SomePgmr (2021234) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:43AM (#40839133) Homepage

          I thought the take-away was, "Pay your programmers well, or things will go horribly wrong."

          Also, don't breed that really large, featherless, murderous variety of chess playing velociraptor with opposable digits. They're not worth the aggravation.

        • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Lotana (842533) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:11AM (#40839329)

          I have read several of his books and came to the conclusion that either he is really afraid of all science and technology or just writing his books targeting the audience that are. Every single book came down to: "See? SEE?! This is why you fucking scientists shouldn't do anything remotely exprimental!!!"

          • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

            by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:49AM (#40839527) Homepage

            Not in the least. Read the forewords and author's notes as well and you'll see a very different point of view: science for PROFIT is extremely risky.

            His concern isn't science for the sake of knowledge, but the inherent dangers of doing science for the sake of money. That become science done in secret rather than open, science that cuts corners to save costs, science that is applied for dubious rather than nobel goals.

            He loves genetic engineering and it's possibility to improve lives for example, but as he shows in "Next" - he despises the idea of "gene patents".

            The problem with Jurassic Park wasn't that it was science, but that it was consumerist-driven.

            • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

              by hvm2hvm (1208954) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:15AM (#40839649) Homepage

              science that is applied for dubious rather than nobel goals

              Yeah, all scientists should have a nobel as a goal, not money

              • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

                by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:33AM (#40839969) Homepage

                Nice comeback - though I obviously meant to type "noble".

                That said - most people miss the point of the Nobel prize, I just hope most scientists don't. Alfred Nobel made his money from an invention called dynamite. While it later found use as a weapon of war, that wasn't the purpose of his creation. Dynamite is derived from the Latin for "alive" - and it was created to SAVE rather than TAKE lives. Specifically dynamite was invented for mining purposes - the most common mining explosive prior to that was nitro-glycerine, dynamite is MUCH safer to work with and it saved millions of lives by reducing explosion-accidents in mining.
                Nobel firmly believed that science and knowledge are the greatest tools to advance a peaceful world with happier and longer-living people. His prize was intended to encourage scientists to do just that- produce knowledge for the good of mankind. This is also why the only NON-science prize is the peace prize. There is no Nobel-prize for business or economics (no really there isn't - the so-called Nobel-prize for economics was created much later by a bunch of Swiss bankers and has no affiliation with the fund Nobel left or the committee who awards the prizes from that fund).

                Nobel was a humanitarian. The irony is that the very life-saving invention that convinced him of science's great potential for humanity was also just a few decades later such a major part in racking up the body counts in the world wars. Nobel would not have been pleased...

              • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

                by Krneki (1192201) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:10AM (#40840169)

                science that is applied for dubious rather than nobel goals

                Yeah, all scientists should have a nobel as a goal, not money

                This is why we need a troll-funny mod option.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              I'm not the least interested in profit when I do science. All my research is centered around world domination.

            • While Crichton may have put it in terms of profit motive, the themes in his book actually tend to be centered around greed, which is not the same thing.

              However, whether Crichton mentions it or not, a theme that is just as common in his books (though not universal), and goes all the way back to The Andromeda Strain, is: "Be careful when you mess with Mother Nature, because living things have a knack for escaping their cages."

              And I think that is one of his more prophetic themes, because we have actually
          • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tehcyder (746570) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:32AM (#40839729) Journal
            It's not the scientists who cause the problem in Jurassic Park, it's the selfish, money-obsessed fat-arsed geek who fucks everything up.

            But I can see why most slashdotters would not like this interpretation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Eh, I suppose. The real point of it is: "Turn pages and tell your buddies to buy this book."

      • by jcr (53032)

        Oh, is that what he was getting at? What I got from that movie is "don't clone dinosaurs unless you've got armored vehicles to wrangle them with."

        -jcr

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by davester666 (731373)

          Or "don't go with the lowest bidder for the computer system controlling everything in your park".

      • "There is a problem with that island. It is an accident waiting to happen."

        -- Ian Malcolm, Jurrassic Park

      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:01AM (#40839275) Homepage Journal

        Crichton was trying to make a point with his Jurassic Park novels. It was a cautionary tale about "the law of unintended consequences".

        And so? Why should we take Jurassic Park, or any work of fiction, as a guide to the way this would work in the real world?

        Cautionary tales of Science Run Amok are at least as old as modern science itself (Frankenstein was published in 1818, arguably about the point where science as we understand it today was emerging from the morass of religious teleology, superstition, and philosophical maundering) and for just as long, they've been held up as examples of why we shouldn't do this or that: "That which we know now is Good and Right and The Way Things Are, but this new knowledge you're seeking is in the realm of Things Man Was Not Meant To Know!" And for the entire time, science has gone ahead anyway, and within a generation or two everyone pretty much agrees that it was a good thing ... just in time to complain about whatever new field of knowledge is opening up and is therefore Scary and Dangerous.

        I'd say spending any amount of money to clone dinosaurs is a bad idea, but that's not because the end result will be people getting eaten by raptors. It's because we don't have any dinosaur DNA* and aren't likely to have enough to get anything like a complete sequence, nor do we have nearly enough basic biological knowledge to create a viable embryo even if we did have the genetic information. Now, speaking as a bioinformaticist, if Clive Palmer wants to devote a portion of his considerable wealth to creating the knowledge that would allow us to clone dinosaurs if we were lucky enough to retrieve some reasonably intact tissue, I'll applaud -- but I hope he's not expecting to have a pet stegosaurus any time in the next few years, or even decades.

        *Not counting bird DNA, which of course is plentiful, but reconstructing the ancestral sequences back to the point necessary to create "dinosaurs" as most people think of them would be just about as huge a challenge as building the whole thing from scratch.

        • by metrix007 (200091)

          Is it 100% certain that birds came from dinosaurs? I thought that was just a popular hypothesis?

          • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:16AM (#40839371) Homepage Journal

            I think it's pretty well accepted at this point. Early birds and feathered ground-dwelling dromeosaurs are anatomically almost identical. Obviously there's no way to be sure without DNA, but we're probably about as sure that aves is a subset of dinosauria as we are of anything in paleontology. (IANAP, terms and conditions may apply, see your local paleontologist for details.)

          • It's pretty much certain at this point. The skeletal anatomical evidence alone would be enough, but now there's a whole slew of independent confirmation from soft tissues, molecular studies, and behavioural evidence. We are more certain birds are dinosaurs than we are most other dinosaurs are dinosaurs.

          • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:50AM (#40839541)

            Using nothing more than signal chemicals (something like growth hormones) applied at the right spot during the right moment of embryo growth, it's possible to make chickens grow teeth. A different substance applied at the base of the spine during early embryo formation gets you a chicken with a long, dinosaur-like tail. You can do something similar to the wings too, unbending them in a way that makes them more like handclaws.

            This is without any genetic modification at all. The data to revert a chicken to something with dinosaurlike claws, teeth and tail all still exists in the standard modern chicken genome. There's nowhere near enough data preserved in chickens to reverse what evolution has done to them over tens of millions of years, but there is a lot more preserved than you might expect.

            Look up Jack Horner's "chickenosaurus" concept for the details. His book has info on the experimental background to the idea.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              For those who, like I, were curious, here is an article about chicken with teeth:

              Mutant Chicken Grows Alligatorlike Teeth [scientificamerican.com].

              Some interesting lines:

              ... Matthew Harris of the University of Wisconsin noticed that the beak of a mutant chicken embryo he was examining had fallen off. Upon closer examination of the snubbed beak, he found tiny bumps and protuberances along its edge that looked like teeth--alligator teeth to be specific.

              The mutant chickens Harris studied bear a recessive trait dubbed talpid. This

            • by Rei (128717)

              The real goal would be twofold: the historic and the modern.

              From the historic side, chemicals have been recovered from dinosaur bones, not just mineralization. While DNA recovery is unlikely, one can identify the remains of proteins and other compounds and get a sense of what chemicals the dinosaurs were producing and in what quantities. The cellular structures of some dinosaur bone and even soft tissue is known and inferences can be made thusly about how different genes were being expressed on the micros

          • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

            by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:56AM (#40839813)
            Dinosaurs and unicorns simply didn't make it onto the ark. That's all you need to know.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by michelcolman (1208008)

              I thought dinosaurs had never existed in the first place, and their bones had been planted into the soil by God to test our faith? Now you've got me all confused...

        • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:13AM (#40839359)

          No matter how primitive the technology, it's possible to construct a cautionary tale of how it will fail: http://dresdencodak.com/2009/09/22/caveman-science-fiction/

        • by Twinbee (767046)
          So after the death of the dino, how long would we have to extract complete DNA? 10 years? 1000?
        • >And for the entire time, science has gone ahead anyway, and within a generation or two everyone pretty much agrees that it was a good thing ... just in time to complain about whatever new field of knowledge is opening up and is therefore Scary and Dangerous.

          Because the atom bomb was a good thing, so is computers used to destroy privacy, drone strikes killing civilians who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - all examples of science driven technology that wasn't possible until quite r

          • Because the atom bomb was a good thing, so is computers used to destroy privacy, drone strikes killing civilians who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time

            The atom bomb was (and is) a good thing. Notice how no one's actually tried to take over the world lately? It's not because people have grown any less ambitious or bloodthirsty since the days of Alexander or Temujin or Napoleon or Hitler.

            As for the other examples, yes, of course these technologies can be misused. But I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that computer and aviation technology in general haven't made the world a better place. Cautionary tales such as Frankenstein, and the moden Luddite f

        • by kramulous (977841)

          I've meet Clive a few times. He is made out to be a crazy coot but the man is actually quite intelligent. He loves science. He has a *lot* of money and will be making a *lot* more in the near to medium future. He's happy to donate just for the possibility. He loves thinking big.

          • He's got to be where he is by breaking the rules. He started off as a department of mines clerk with inside information and the ability to get leases before anyone outside of the department, got a lot of special treatment later from a government that ended up with half the ministry in jail for taking bribes, then shot from mere millionaire to billionaire on the back of a very strange and dubious deal where he bought Queensland Nickel Refineries for far less than they were making a year in profit. I won't
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It's been pointed out the problems in Jurassic Park are not Man's Arrrogance in playing God but rather lousy zookeeping and corruption and sabotage.

      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

        by bitt3n (941736) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:04AM (#40840699)

        Crichton was trying to make a point with his Jurassic Park novels. It was a cautionary tale about "the law of unintended consequences".

        and as a result, some dude's building a dinosaur park. I bet Crichton never intended that.

    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

      by niftydude (1745144) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:24AM (#40839013)
      Don't hold your breath. Clive Palmer has a long history of shooting his mouth off about grandiose schemes, then not following through with any action.
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CheshireDragon (1183095) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:38AM (#40839103) Homepage
        Like every other eccentric out there. No one cares that the rich are crazy, only the hobo on the street corner.
      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        That is such an understatement.

        - We've got a guy who started a football team, bought some expensive players, and then completely abandoned the club.
        - This is a man who said the CIA funded the greens exclusively so they could destroy the Australian economy.
        - This man's billboard is still standing in the area where he was going to run for election directly against the opposing treasurer who just won the world's best treasurer award. Not that he's running for this seat anymore.

        Between rebuilding the Titanic an

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:20AM (#40838981)

    Just for the record, he did actually watch the movie, so he knows how this turns out right?

  • by srussia (884021) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:22AM (#40838993)
    Someone send this guy a DVD of "Weird Science". I'd go to that theme park.
    • by Teancum (67324)

      If there is a theme park for weird science, I'd say it would have to be the Exploratorium [exploratorium.edu]. If you happen to ever get to the San Francisco area in your travels, it is most definitely a geek out site to visit and check out... especially with your kids if you have them with you but going by yourself is also worth the time as well.

      They could also use some benefactors and philanthropists to help them out, but to me it is what a museum really ought to be instead of a bunch of stuffy static exhibits.

  • by Apotekaren (904220) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:23AM (#40839007)

    I thought there were lots of talks about this after the movie came out, and the definite answer was that it was impossible because DNA does not preserve that long, no matter how nicely that mosquito was encapsulated in amber.

    • Ssssshhh! Don't tell him. It's so cute!!
    • by pegasustonans (589396) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:43AM (#40839135)

      I thought there were lots of talks about this after the movie came out, and the definite answer was that it was impossible because DNA does not preserve that long, no matter how nicely that mosquito was encapsulated in amber.

      True, though nobody ever said it would be impossible if the specimen were encapsulated in ice.

      It may be possible if dinosaurs are ever found preserved in ice. Though, I wouldn't hold your breath.

      The reason DNA degrades in amber is, among other things, due to background radiation, a factor which is less worrisome when dealing with ice.

      The likelihood of finding a dinosaur or specimen with intact dinosaur DNA in ice, however, is ridiculously low. Nevertheless, if I were a billionaire intent on blowing money, I could think of worse ways to spend it than a dinosaur hunting expedition to Antarctica.

      • by mosb1000 (710161)

        I could think of worse ways to spend it than a dinosaur hunting expedition to Antarctica.

        Incidentally, Antarctica was probably ice free [wikipedia.org] at the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

      • Came here to say this. Even wooly mammoths frozen in ice haven't fared too well. The current plan for restoring them involves manual DNA repair and breeding with modern elephants.

        Fun news but without a good DNA source this is quite impossible.

  • I know UNIX, so I should be plenty safe.

  • by rjames13 (1178191) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:24AM (#40839015)

    Colourful mining billionaire Clive Palmer may have a costly penchant for resurrecting remnants of the past, but he has no intentions of extending that to long-extinct reptiles, sources say.

    The Sunshine Coast Daily reported on rumours that the mining magnate plans to clone a dinosaur from DNA, so it could roam free through a Jurassic Park-style area at his Coolum golf resort.

    It was reported Mr Palmer had been in deep discussion with the people who successfully cloned Dolly the sheep.

    But a source close to Mr Palmer rubbished the suggestion today.

    "It's absolutely ridiculous," the source said.

    However, Mr Palmer is expected to reveal highly-anticipated redevelopment plans for his luxury Coolum resort on Friday.

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/palmers-jurassic-park-plan-extinct-20120731-23bvr.html [brisbanetimes.com.au]

    • He also saw Frankenstein with Boris Karloff and he is seeking advice to know how he could resurrect Boris Karloff to appoint him as a groom at the Coolum resort.
  • by CoolGopher (142933) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:28AM (#40839033)

    Palmer just likes the lime light and will say anything to get it. Nothing to see here...

  • Maybe you should add the "what could possibly go wrong" tag? :)
  • Have your people call my people, we can get this greenlighted next week! What could possibly go wrong?

    -jcr

  • Now remember that this is all coming from “a source close to Palmer”

    So possibly Palmer's only been dreaming next to a pint of Foster's "Aaaahhh...wouldn't it be awesome if we could build something like Jurassic Park. Next round is on me."

  • Q. What do you get when a fool becomes a billionaire ?

  • Spin doctoring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gargleblast (683147) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:47AM (#40839181)
    This is just Clive Palmer's way of deflecting press coverage. Palmer is one of several Australian mining billionaires, and the Treasurer is expected to talk soon about their opposition to mining tax. Clive would rather have http://google.com/search?q=clive+palmer+news [google.com] link to anything else, e.g. dinosaurs and his new resort.
  • by dingen (958134) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:49AM (#40839197)

    The billionaire has already been in touch with the scientists who helped clone Dolly the sheep to see what it would take to clone a dinosaur from DNA.

    He does know Dolly died at the age of six, while the average life span of sheep is at least twice that long and lots of sheep (when properly cared for) live up to 20 years?

    Unless he's ok with his T-Rex barely reaching adulthood, he might want to look elsewhere for better cloning scientists.

    • I don't know, if he managed to get a T-Rex to even a day old, I think that would be a pretty big accomplishment regardless.

  • It's sad when a mind degrades to this point. Dolly, IIRC, was one success in hundreds of failures, and had a pretty short and painful life. What's next? have Queensland leave the commonwealth?

  • ...because people of your intellect should not be let loose on the world's stage to tarnish the rest of the country.

    The sad part is this peanut comes out with a new "thing" every other week to get his name and/or face in the media. I like how the media plays down his eccentricity by labelling him 'colourful' as opposed to eccentric (or mad) though. That might attract the lawyers...

  • That Hollywood runs with this idea and makes a Movie out of it!

  • by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:21AM (#40839391)

    The lesson I got from Jurassic Park was - Don't clone the meat eaters. Brontosuars and Siplodocis may not be as excitinfg as T-Rex, bit they won't eat you.

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