Editing Babies: A Chinese scientist claims to have for the first time successfully created two babies whose DNA had been altered through a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR, eliminating a gene that could make the babies resistant to HIV. The claim hasn’t been formally confirmed, and the scientist’s own institution called the experiment a “serious violation of academic ethics and standards.” Here’s why the implications of such work are so chilling, Ed Yong reports.
This remarkable community of 500 or so people, living on a small island off Australia’s northern coast, speak nine different languages among themselves. Other than English, none of these languages are spoken by more than a few thousand others in the world.
For all these individuals to understand one another, one might expect South Goulburn to be an island of polyglots, or a place where residents have hashed out a pidgin to share, like a sort of linguistic stone soup. Rather, they just talk to one another in their own language or languages, which they can do because everyone else understands some or all of the languages but doesn’t speak them.
This arrangement, which linguists call “receptive multilingualism,” shows up all around the world. In some places, it’s accidental. Many English-speaking Anglos who live in U.S. border states, for instance, can read and comprehend quite a bit of Spanish from being exposed to it. And countless immigrant children learn to speak the language of their host country while retaining the ability to understand their parents’ languages. In other places, receptive multilingualism is a work-around for temporary situations. But at Warruwi Community, it plays a special role.
Every week, the psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb answers readers’ questions in the Dear Therapist column. This week, an anonymous reader from Philadelphia writes:
On multiple occasions, I asked my family (my grandmother, two aunts, and a cousin) to call me immediately when they found out that my mom would be going into surgery so that I could see her before she went under. I asked them specifically to call me, as I have all their numbers on a list in my phone, where their calls can come through and wake me up anytime. I explained that texts would be silent and wouldn’t wake me up.
I woke up to my alarm for work around 7:30 a.m. One of my aunts had texted me around 4 a.m., saying that my mom had found a donor. She had texted again at 6:30 a.m., saying that my mom was going into surgery. Obviously, I was horrified. I got to the hospital as quickly as I could and found them all in her room. They made little acknowledgment that I was there, except for showing me photos of all of them with my mom before she went into surgery …
I haven’t been able to forgive my family for forgetting about me, nor let go of my anger and anxiety. My therapist thinks I should confront my aunts, and I agree, but it always seems to be a bad time …