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Biotech Science

Museum of Engineered Organisms Opens In Pittsburgh 54

qeorqe writes "The Center for PostNatural History is a museum and research library about organisms that have been created either by genetic engineering or selective breeding. Included in the collection are Sea Monkeys and GloFish. From the article: 'One of the cool things about natural history museums is that they show you how nature has changed over time, adapting to volatile conditions and extreme challenges. And nothing is more volatile, extreme, or challenging than the human race, so it makes sense that there would be a museum to chronicle just how much we’ve messed with plants, animals, the climate, and in general the world around us. The Center for PostNatural History, opening this week in Pittsburgh, is that museum.'"
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Museum of Engineered Organisms Opens In Pittsburgh

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  • A zoo would be more fun than a museum.

    WRT to selective breeding, isn't that like... practically everything?

    • Re:Zoo not museum (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @02:25PM (#39240631) Homepage Journal
      Yes. Post-nature began shortly after the invention of agriculture. Given that, I think that if they tried to build a zoo they'd... just have to point people to the nearest farm.
      • Yes. Post-nature began shortly after the invention of agriculture. Given that, I think that if they tried to build a zoo they'd... just have to point people to the nearest farm.

        Or the nearest Erlenmeyer flask. Most petting zoos who feature microorganisms don't last all that long.

      • Re:Zoo not museum (Score:5, Informative)

        by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @04:13PM (#39241469)

        Yeah, GloFish and Sea Monkeys are neat and all, but genetically speaking pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. You can find plenty of genetic changes in the produce aisle. Corn from tesointe, wheat with chromosomes from 3 other species, tetraploid potatoes (that won't make you sick), hybrid octaploid strawberries, all kinds of different shapes and colors of squash, eggplant, & tomatoes, seedless citrus, grapes, watermelons, & bananas, stonefruit hybrids, large sweet apples and other fruits bred away from their small sour ancestors, every single brassica, a rainbow of carrots, different speckled beans, and many others, and all the mutations behind these traits, including the less visible ones like altered photoperiod and disease resistance, would be good topics, each with their own history. Oh, and every breed of dog, chicken, cow, ect. I would hope they include these along with the newer genetic engineering examples like GloFish, Bt & HR crops, ect.. I don't think enough people appreciate, or are even aware, of the genetic history of their food and the genetic changes that occurred over the years, or even the changes being made today. I think it'd be kind of neat if they also included some oddities that you don't typically hear of, like white blackberries, pink blueberries, red & pink fleshed apples, citranges, shipova, ect,

        I wonder if the concession stand takes the same theme, selling fruits and vegetables along with a little bit on their genetic changes. Triploid apples, papayas with papaya ringspot virus genes, nachos made from corn with the Bt gene...too bad there's no more Flavr Savr tomatoes but they can still use ones with broken lycopene biosynthesis pathways like Huge Lemon Oxheart or White Tomesol, or maybe source a nice dark one like Indigo Rose.

        • by Inda ( 580031 )
          Are those really worth a mention?

          Some of these crops, such as the parsnip, only require a decade of selective breeding from the wild variety. If you left them alone, they would return to their wild state in a similar timeframe.

          I tend to favour growing "unnatural" hybrids. The extra costs is worth it in taste, disease resistant properties and yields.
      • by thsths ( 31372 )

        Exactly. Wheat, apples, bananas, dogs, modern horses, hens that lay an egg every 22 hours... all man made. Man shapes the landscape to his usefulness, and animals and plants have been part of this system for a long time.

      • by qwak23 ( 1862090 )

        I really don't like the word postnatural. The word "Natural" itself is confusing enough, why reinforce it even more?

        (I'm referring to the fact that from a pedantic standpoint, there is nothing that exists that isn't natural - humans are natural. The products of humans are natural. I understand that many people like to somehow separate humanity from nature and therefore imply that "natural" means without those dirty humans getting their dirty hands on it.)

        • Humans are unique amongst organisms in that we've gone through this fantastically elaborate arms race with ourselves—much moreso than any other genus on the planet. Yes, we've needed to kill off the occasional lion or mammoth, but for the most part we've been competing against other tribes of pink-skinned bipeds, at least for the past while. The difference between 'artificial' and 'natural' is, then, the result of that hyper-evolved arms race. There aren't too many other species that we know about wit
      • Yes. Post-nature began shortly before the invention of agriculture.


        Accepting that the "invention" of agriculture took place multiple times in multiple places over periods of centuries, however there is also fairly good evidence that people were artificially selecting plant population properties for a considerable period before going about deliberately planting them. Particular plant types which were eaten at hunter-gatherer camps are relatively concentrated in middens and shit-piles, where they someti

  • Postnatural. Postnatural is just a word. It is used in a sentence like this: "this bread sure is postnatural." What is this PostNatural business? Are we implementing a class for a non-artificial version of a post?

    (I tried to join the local Grammar Nazi chapter, but they got upset when I pointed out that they were actually just garden-variety syntactic fascists.)

    • "this bread sure is postnatural."

      Whatever you do, don't say "this breakfast cereal sure is postnatural."

    • As someone who has two capital letters in his surname, and routinely has to nag people to honor his wishes to capitalize it that way, I am curious why you think it's any of your business how they choose to capitalize the name of their museum.

      I am a strong advocate of standard grammar for the sake of clarity. Using the correct spelling of its or it's makes it clearer and easier to understand a sentence. It serves a useful purpose, and that's why we have it. However, that isn't applicable here; PostNatural

      • Language evolution, much like the evolution of species, is directed by the most prominent and immobile uses (such as prescriptivists and recorded history), and by the most common usages amongst the masses. I do believe that makes you a bit of a hypocrite. :)

        About your last name—might I ask how "VerBeek" came about? Couldn't you just go with the slightly-rarer but less-likely-to-be-confused "Ver Beek"? I don't know that much about Dutch genaeology or nomenclature, but it appears to me that it's the mor

    • In english, if you add the prefix "post" to an adjective, it means that the subject belongs a class which occurred immediately after the class described by that adjective. For example "postmodern" describes architecture and artwork which originated in the era after the modern era. Postfeminist literature originated after the feminist movement. Postpartum depression occurs after a woman has given birth. A post script occurs after a body of text.

      This is in contrast to the prefix "pre" which means that a subje

      • I guess you didn't actually take the time to understand the post to which you replied. Hint: it isn't about the meaning of "postnatural".

      • Please, tell me what planet you are from; I wish to learn more about what you believed you were responding to, and how it relates to what I wrote. While you're at it, I'd also like to know when English became a common noun, what exactly it means to be "cold of help", and why you didn't go the extra mile and point out that these prefixes are Latin and hence common to quite a few languages.
    • by vlm ( 69642 )


      Its one of those self referential things, postnatural itself is a postnatural mutation of the one true platonic form of the true grammar.

  • I'd love to visit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    the museum of engineered orgasms!

    • That's what I though when I first saw it too! Does that make us bad?
    • That's what I read. I was very confused by the article.

    • As a native to Pittsburgh, I can tell you that compared to other cities I have lived in, the women here are so frigid and uptight that nothing short of a team of Carnegie Mellon scientists and engineers working round the clock could engineer an orgasm in them.
  • So, simply said (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @02:34PM (#39240695) Journal

    they opened a farm.

  • by bradorsomething ( 527297 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @02:47PM (#39240789)
    Oh... Orga-*nisms* bad, I don't want to visit any more.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We were created 'by nature' how is anything we do not natural?

    • We are sentient.

    • Humans: The Nature's way of overcoming the limitations of human-free localized entropy reduction.
    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      I call this the "Love and Rockets objection" []: you cannot go against nature / because when you do / go against nature / it's part of nature too

      It's useful as a rough organizing concept though, I think. The evolutionary mechanisms that led the black rat to diverge from the brown rat, and the mechanisms that led to the glow-in-the-dark rat, are probably worth studying separately.

      • I think the thing that really trips people up is that there isn't a separating line. There most assuredly is still a difference between the ridiculous and highly abstracted antics of humans, and those of other animals, though. Culture is what makes us artificial; it is that from which we artifice (from ars + facio: to put/do through art and skill.) I would like to propose this be called the Love versus Rockets counter-objection.
  • by solios ( 53048 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @03:03PM (#39240927) Homepage

    Garfield isn't exactly gentrified - in the 4900 block of Penn Avenue this place is a good distance from the Carnegie Science Center (north shore) or Natural History / Museum of Art in Oakland.

    Out of the way of casual tourism, a couple of blocks from Garfield Artworks [] and two doors down from a really good Vietnamese restaurant.

  • Thought you meant Museum of Engineered Orgasms [].
    • I just wonder whether a 4D scan of a brain during orgasm qualifies as pornography or not... :] (That could have some implications for presenting it in public - obscenity laws etc.)
  • Now I have another euphemism for rosie palm'in it.

    Person X: "Why do we need so much conditioner?"
    Person Y: "Engineering purposes."
  • Yum (Score:4, Funny)

    by DeadDecoy ( 877617 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @04:00PM (#39241377)
    And at the end of the museum, there's a cafeteria that demonstrates just how delicious these modified organisms are.
  • by qeorqe ( 853039 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @04:21PM (#39241509)
    The journal "Nature" has published an interview [] (pdf) with Richard Pell, the museum's curator.
  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:16PM (#39242585)
    A dalmation kidney.

    Maybe a geneticist could start looking into repairing the damage done by reckless selective breeding?
  • ...has a whole wing?

    And if they check your shoe soles as you leave and find some pollen, they sue you?

  • Apparently, Sea Monkeys are not as genetically engineered or selectively bread as advertisements in comic books lead me to believe. I expected to see a little civilization of humanoid "sea people" dancing around, smiling and frolicking just like in the pictures. Instead, I got brine shrimp. WTF?

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