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World's most famous sheep

Thousands of clones of the same person trying to take over the world; clones who suddenly realise they need to find their identity and meaning of life; worlds made from DNA of dead human beings over and over again and an evil genius with a younger clone version of himself - these were just some of the ways cloning was portrayed in movies. These gave rise to endless possibilities and we are pretty sure everyone dreamed of having a cloned self to do their work. Sadly the science behind it all is often portrayed wrong. So what is cloning and why did the hype suddenly die out?

RS takes a turn at cloning. The picture on the left is an exact clone of the picture on the right.

The first cloning that had any measure of success was in 1958 when John Gurdon managed to clone a tadpole. This involved a process called nuclear transfer which, to simplify, is the process of sucking out nucleus of an oocyte cell (oocytes are unfertilised eggs which can develop into an animal if fertilised) and replace it with a nucleus of another cell. He did this by putting a gut cell of a frog into an enucleated cell (cells with nucleus taken out) and voila! The cells started dividing and then differentiating and he had a tadpole. Differentiating is simply the process by which cells specialise into specific cells i.e. nerve cells, fat cells etc. But here's the catch - it was impossible to keep the tadpoles alive to the point that they would be frogs. And when this process was repeated for mice and cattle it didn't work - mammals were proving impossible to clone.

Naturally, cells grow and divide into two and a chain of the process continues. But some cells stop dividing - these cells are called quiescent cells. Now Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and their colleagues at Roslin Institute in Scotland decided that instead of active cells, mammals might be cloned using these quiescent cells. So they took cells from the mammary glands of an adult Finn Dorset (a breed of sheep) and after making the cells quiescent, introduced them into some enucleated cells. These were then placed it in the reproductive chamber of Scottish Blackface (another breed of sheep). They had to repeat this 277 times (apparently the answer to everything is not 42) and Dolly the Fin Dorset born from a Scottish Blackface was the first cloned sheep in the world. Dolly lived to be six; she died of a progressive lung disease and arthritis in 2003. May she rest in peace.

Dolly was the start of all the speculation and the media hype about cloning. Expectations about human cloning and the ethical questions regarding them were rampant. Since then cattle, cats, horses and dogs have been cloned. Human cloning is theoretically possible but all the experiments have been terminated before the cells ever reached a period when it could be called a human as human cloning is illegal in most countries - which means we don't get to have a twin and mess around with people like Fred and George. Sucks.

Maybe that's why all the hype died down? With reproductive cloning being banned, all hopes of 'mini me's and doubles are gone. Though therapeutic cloning is used in medicine and research; the crushed hope of having a miniature self is devastating. On the bright side we won't have any clone with existential angst going around saying “who am I?”, “what am I” anytime soon.

But hey, maybe they have those in secret government facilities.

By Moyukh ver. 2.0

A Second Dhaka

The news in Bangladesh is always very entertaining. Whether it's some minister mouthing off against a counterpart from the rival party or whether it's footage of people running riot in front of the Dhaka Stock Exchange every week for every dip in the figures, the headlines never fail to deliver something or the other that'll make you face-palm and wonder where we're headed.

Dhaka is splitting up. Apparently, Dhaka City Corporation cannot look after Dhaka's 12 million plus inhabitants and needs to divide up the city in two to make things easier. So, they'll make DCC North and DCC South, hire double the administrative staff and everything works out for everyone. Or at least that's what they think will happen, even though regular logic cannot fully explain the use of making a DCC North and South in the first place if all that is different is the number of staff and offices. Why not just hire more people anyway, without cutting our town in half? But alas, that may remain one of life's greatest mysteries.

Or not. It has come to be expected that anything our politicians do will have to benefit them or their party in some way or the other. What does the government benefit from having two DCCs? Well other than more equal distribution of the less than legal earnings of city officials, it offers a chance to delay the Dhaka mayoral elections, which, if we're not wrong was supposed to be held, about four years ago. That means our current mayor has been in office for nearly a decade (this is where you readers express shock and say “Damn!”). But yes, delaying this further works because as our long running mayor claims that the current government would lose the elections. And they can't let that happen. Once more, why not just continue what you were doing without doing what you just did? But no, now we'll have two mayors because that somehow increases the chances of the Powers That Be of winning at least one half of the city. Personally, I'm confused by this because I don't see how this works unless the majority of their voters are moved to either the northern or southern part of Dhaka. But logic never did apply much to Bangladeshi politics.

Think of the chaos that will ensue when Dhaka is divided. Families torn apart and children will grow up never knowing their relatives. Yay, no more visiting third cousins you don't particularly like! Star crossed romantics separated from their loves, leaving them to slide into depression and very large phone bills. Friends will forget each other as one will live in Gulshan and the other in Dhanmondi. Ok, that could actually happen with the worsening of the already crippling traffic situation. And then at one point, we'll go to war with each other over some small section of land that wasn't properly marked during partition. Perhaps, we're exaggerating just a wee bit. Perhaps not.

The Tejgaon and Mohammedpur police stations will act as the new border between Dhaka North and Dhaka South (but don't put it past one of them to take on the name of the father of the nation soon enough). We could be like Germany and make a wall (what a strange coincidence that our Prime Minister is in Germany as we make this comparison). Instead of the Berlin Wall, it can be called the Bangabandhu Wall. Of course, it probably won't last nearly as long as the Berlin Wall did thanks to our amazing construction skills. We'll make a budget that'll be ten times larger than what is actually needed to build the wall and we'll spend only about one-twentieth of the money on it. It'll be magnificent and strong. Until the rain comes and it cracks and collapses in about six months. Might last even less as people from the surrounding locality will come and steal all the bricks, cement, steel rods, worker's lunches, etc, causing them to cut costs by doing a less than a solid job. And then there's always the possibility it could turn into another Padma Bridge and whoever is funding the wall will stop funding it due to corruption, leaving half a giant wall running through the city.

Ahh, Bangladesh. Never does she fail to amaze.

By Bareesh

Dhaka North (left) and Dhaka South (left) with nothing worth dividing in between.


Work out the most important muscle you got with Sudoku. Any row, column or 3x3 box must contain numbers 1-9. No number can be repeated in any row, column or 3x3 box.

Dedicated to Padya Paramita, who is grounded for math troubles.





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