New York Times on Bristlecones

I’ve been working away at our reply to Ammann and Wahl so I’m a little behind in blogging. One of our readers drew my attention to a discussion in the New York Times involving our favorite bristlecone pines. Kammerer et al. [J. Im. Gen. 2006] report the extension of human lifespan to 969 years following vector insertion of bristlecone pine antioxidant gene complex. See a summary of the article here and a discussion by the New York Times here.


  1. John A
    Posted Jan 23, 2006 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    I have one question: we don’t have any bristlecone pines around here but I do know where there’s some Sequoia Giganteums. Will they work just as well?

  2. John A
    Posted Jan 23, 2006 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    Here’s an even better explanation for the Author List

  3. Paul
    Posted Jan 23, 2006 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    RE #1 –

    I’ve always been a little short. Will the sequoia stuff make me taller?

  4. Patrick Frank
    Posted Jan 23, 2006 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    The NYT spoof reminds me of an April Fool’s joke published by Nature many years ago. It was a clever take-off from Aldous Huxley’s book “After Many a Summer Dies the Swan,” in which a rich magnate greatly prolongs his life by eating a mash of carp guts. Huxley’s joke was that, as humans are neotenous apes, long-lived humans eventually mature into the ape of which we are the juvenile form. The Nature article was an elaborate April Fools play on Huxley’s novel, describing a life-extension breakthrough involving carp genes. On remembering this, I tracked it down to April 1, 1993; an article called “Dorian Gray Mice,” by Robin A. Weiss. Apparently many were fooled. Fortunately, I’d read the novel previously, noticed the carp and the extended presence of its slight anagram, and escaped the trap.

    On a more serious note, I think Donald Kennedy’s proposed policy about getting author reassurances is self-servngly evasive. The real problem is two-fold, both relating to Science itself. First is that, in the Hwang case, the Science reviewers were clearly slipshod. Second is that Science, like Nature, is anxious to publish the hot new thing. The editors tend to close their eyes if the payoff in reputation looks good. The larger problem of fraud, like that of shoddy science, lies with journals and reviewers falling down on the job. The small-‘s’ science should come before the status.


  5. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 23, 2006 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    Re #3 – I’d bet that the porno channels will offer a different projected outcome for use of John A’s Sequoia Giganteum stuff. (don’t bother with more punning replies as I’m not going to wade through Spam Karma.)

  6. Jim O'Toole
    Posted Jan 23, 2006 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

    Re # 5-Not even Venus Fly Trap? Couldn’t resist.

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