Gene Editing vs. Alternative Technology

November 18, 2017 | ProgressTH Ed Yong in his article, "New Zealand’s War on Rats Could Change the World," helped frame up an ongoing debate over using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) altered through gene-editing technology to eradicate pests. In this particular case, the problem is rats and other invasive predatory mammals that endanger New Zealand's native bird populations.

Yong covers proposals to introduce genes into mammalian populations to hinder their ability to reproduce. These "gene-drives" are unlike other technologies like gene therapy, which replace faulty genes in human patients to correct genetic diseases or enhance an individual's immune system to fight cancer. Unlike gene therapy where the corrected genes are not passed down to an individual's offspring, gene-drives imply that edited genes would be passed down to future generations.

A rat with a compromised reproductive system would pass those genes down to whatever offspring it managed to have. Eventually, the entire species would carry the compromised genes, its numbers would dwindle, and eventually disappear altogether.

New Zealand's invasive mammalian predator problem isn't the first case this technology has been proposed for. Companies around the world are racing to introduce similarly edited genes into mosquito populations.

Wonder Technology vs Alternatives 

Mr. Yong's article, however, did not just sell biotech to readers. An articulate and superior counterargument was presented, warning of a sort of invasive species scenario in reverse where the edited genes would "quickly and relentlessly spread," overwriting an entire population's genome, and once released would be nearly impossible to contain.

3D Printed Scale Model RX-2 Chaipattana Low Speed Surface Aerator

November 13, 2017 | ProgressTH During a recent visit to the park, I noticed several different models of surface aerators working to keep water circulating and from becoming stagnant. One was pulled out of the water for maintenance allowing me to get a closer look. It seemed very simple and the thought of creating a floating platform with 3D printing began to grow.

Upon doing some research, I discovered the differences between the different models here in Thailand, including one of the first in Thailand and the inspiration for the design and distribution of many more around the country.

It was the RX-2 Chaipattana Low Speed Surface Aerator which was designed and built under the direction of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. While it serves the same purpose as other aerators, it does so in a very different way.

A central wheel slowly spins, lifting perforated buckets out of the water and allowing them to slowly drain with a rain-like effect.

The resulting scale model is part a tribute to the late King, part 3D printing experiment, and part kinetic sculpture.

3D Printed DIYbio Orbital Shaker

November 11, 2017 | ProgressTH Orbital shakers are used to agitate substances in closed vessels such as jars, test tubes, and enclosed bioreactors.

Our design utilizes 608zz bearings (x6), a 12v stepper motor and driver, a potentiometer, and an Arduino Micro Pro to create variable, smooth, and reliable orbital motion control.

The files, including the Arduino sketch and the SketchUp file we designed it in are all up on Thingiverse here:

Wiring diagrams and additional resources will be added soon. The platform itself was specifically designed to be removable via 3 bolts. This allows users to create custom holders to keep their vessels secure while in motion. The platform moves very quickly at full speed.

A quick video demo can be seen here:

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