International News

Russia and South Korea Team up to Bring Woolly Mammoth Back to Life
In what could become one of the most amazing feats in scientific history, Russian and South Korean scientists have teamed up with a mutual goal of cloning the woolly mammoth.
The deal was signed by Vasily Vasiliev, Vice Rector of North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic, and controversial cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.

“The first and hardest mission is to restore mammoth cells,” another Sooam researcher, Hwang In-Sung says. His colleagues would join Russian scientists in trying to find well-preserved tissue with an undamaged gene.

The advent of global warming has resulted in the uncovering of remains of the woolly mammoth in Siberia, which may make finding intact genes possible for the researchers. Once located, the gene would be implanted into the eggs of Indian elephants, and carried for the 22-month gestational period.

Sooam says it will launch research this year if the Russian University can ship the remains, and if the Beijing Genomics Institute will also take part in the project. South Korea is a leader in cloning technologies, and has previously cloned a cow, a cat, dogs, a pig, a wolf, and eight coyotes (revealed in Oct. 2011).

Canada’s Pearl to Shut Down April 2012

Due to lack of funding, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) will end its year-round operations on Apr. 30. Located at Eureka, Nunavut, PEARL has been operated by the Canadian Network for Detection of Atmospheric Change, a network of university researchers, since 2005.

The station has been tracking ozone depletion, air quality, and the effects of climate change. Last winter, PEARL made key measurements to detect and analyze the largest ozone hole ever detected over the Arctic. The station requires $1.5 million in funding to stay open year-round and enable researchers to obtain the most accurate readings and measurements.

The government had been providing money for the station via the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, which had been covering the majority of the station’s costs. “We certainly continue to support the concept of PEARL, but I certainly, as minister of Environment Canada, do not have a million and a half dollars in my back pocket,” Minister of Environment Peter Kent says.

The network says it’s pursuing funding for short-term research campaigns, and is making intermittent scientific measurements in the summer. They don’t seem to be having much luck so far.

“When you run out of money, there’sno alternative but to close the lab,” Jim Drummond, a Dalhousie University researcher who is the principle investigator for PEARL, says in a CBC article. While they may still be able to run the station for shorter projects, losing the ability to track year-round means that the station will no longer be able to measure data for aerosols, atmospheric composition, and carbon during the long, freezing arctic winter.

Drummond says the network has since applied for various government funding programs and has been turned down for all of them, despite the government’s frequent assertion that the Arctic is a priority for Canada.

“Shutting it down causes a big gap in the measurements,” Drummond says. “We’re losing the ability to know what’s going on up there.”

Many environmental changes which are happening on a global scale, such as climate, are occurring first in the Arctic, he says, adding “this is an early warning system that we’re letting go.”

The government is expected to set up a new High Arctic research station 1300 km south of PEARL in Cambridge Bay in 2017.