"Since 2013, the CRISPR/Cas system has been used for gene editing (adding, disrupting or changing the sequence of specific genes) and gene regulation in species throughout the tree of life. By delivering the Cas9 protein and appropriate guide RNAs into a cell, the organism's genome can be cut at any desired location."
(From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRISPR)
Edit: Hear a recent Radiolab episode on the topic (http://www.radiolab.org/story/antibodies-part-1-crispr/)
Of course, the DONT EAT THE SCIENCE OR IT WILL GIVE YOU THE CANCER political nonsense is wrong. That doesn't let GMO off the hook, though. The problem it attempts to solve, on the surface, is increasing the productivity of monocropping. But productivity isn't the problem of our food chain. We can grow plenty of food, and cheaply.
So what are problems? Loss of biodiversity. Modern nutrition-related health problems like obesity and diabetes that are related to factory-manufactured junk food. Et cetera.
We should be focusing on making food fresher, better tasting, more nutritious, more interesting, and more ethical. Racing to the bottom on price isn't good for anyone but the companies that provide vendor lock-in.
We can. The rest of the developing world has a lot of trouble keeping people fed. There's only so much aid can do, but if we can find ways for small-time farmers to produce more, and also to transport those goods, then the rest of the world could feed itself, something small-time agriculture has historically had a lot of trouble doing.
Better, hardier crop strains aren't just a profit-making scheme, they're absolutely critical in the fight against world hunger.
Green Revolution is often the cause of rather than cure for hunger in the developing world. Here's an example. Ethiopia is one of the most agriculturally bountiful places on Earth. For thousands of years, it has been farmed effectively, and nomadic cattle herding was a key part of that. In the 1970s, it joined the Green Revolution. River valley land was "bought" and fenced in for industrial cattle farming, raising low quality beef for the European pet food market. This cut off access to the rivers during dry season for the nomadic herders, backed up in force by a now internationally funded army. The nomads were forced to stay in the hills, overgrazing during the dry season. A decade or so later, and the hill country desertified and the rivers silted up, ruining both the nomadic and Green Revolution cattle farming. Suddenly, a peaceful and well-fed land became the scene of a world-shaking famine and civil war.
The picture is much, much bigger than just GMO.
There are, in fact, ag biotech firms that have expended resources to develop GMOs for developing world conditions and problems. Of course, there's more money in solving first world problems, attracting more investment, but that's true of pretty much every industry, not something special about GMOs.
This is not true for all GMO crops. Golden Rice is a prime example of a GMO crop developed specifically to fight malnutrition in the developing world.
But your argument is probably true for the stuff peddled by Monsanto and their competitors.
Since everything is an economic problem, blaming economics doesn't help people envision where the problem is. Blaming distribution shows where the problem is - which is both in our methods and the economics of doing so.
An issue with improving those methods is also an issue behind economics.
 non-existing technology --> which requires R&D to be developed --> R&D requires $$$ --> economic problem; especially if technology is difficult/impossible to actually create
True, but that's more an economic and political problem than one of food production. Making farmers more dependent on large corporations is not going to fix their economic problems.
Similarly, there are lots of markets that are unserved by the global food chain. How can one say that food subsidies in developed countries can affect these unserved markets? They can't sell to the developed world, and developed world food doesn't really make it there.
I spent some time in Colombia, not quite a developed or a developing nation, in mostly big cities, and even there much of the food consumption was local. Sure, bigger farmers would be able to sell at a profit to Western conglomerates, and Western food was available (at steep prices) in the large chain grocery stores.
But most people shopped at the ubiquitous small family-run groceries that served a mix of local agricultural output and mass-market, also locally-produced goods. I'd be very surprised if Western agricultural innovations weren't being employed to grow all of the great-tasting produce I ate there. Seeds are much much easier to transport than mangoes.
I for example remember a documentary I saw a couple of months ago with starving people collecting single grains of rice, I think, from the streets at a market in India if I remember correctly. On the other side of the street behind a wall was a huge open space with hundreds, maybe thousands of tons of rice, bought by speculators hoping for rising prices but they didn't. Hell, even if everything worked as expected, less supply because everything got bought up causing rising prices in turn, this would be plain unethical extortion.
One other example that comes to mind is milk producers in Africa going out of business because of cheap subsidized milk powder flooding the markets. Cheap milk in exchange for now unemployed milk producers and capital leaving the country seems not such a great deal to me. And because of credits from the world bank they are not allowed to counter this development with import taxes. Free trade may be - not necessarily is - a good thing between equal parties, but between a rich, developed and powerful party on one side and a poor, underdeveloped and powerless party on the other side it becomes quite probable that it will not turn out as a win-win situation.
GMO is just an extension of Green Revolution capitalism-centric agriculture. That model has done miracles for supporting the growing population and making food cheaper, but it's not a free lunch.
There some ecological as well as regulatory challenges. That doesn't mean GMO isn't a solid approach to improving accessibility to high quality fresh food
The pace, more than magnitude, of changes achievable is greater now (either with GMOs or mutation breeding) than with older forms of selective breeding (mutation breeding is, after all, a form of selective breeding.)
Seems a step or two removed from selective breeding to me, though I'm not arguing for or against GMOs, just saying that it seems to me there is a definite distinction between the processes and what they are capable of doing.
There are absolutely forms of GMO crops that could be entirely safe, but that doesn't seem to be the area of interest of Monsanto.
So while it may not be a gene copied directly from a fish, it will be a base-for-base identical copy of the gene found in a fish. Then it can be merged back into the main line of the plant via a recombinant backcross technique.
This is how plant breeding has been done for quite a long time now.
The actual results of breeding and natural selection, including particularly convergent evolution, suggest that its quite possible to achieve equivalent results to that by breeding, though the timescale required, if you are relying on natural mutation as your source of variation, might be very long.
Which is why selection breeding techniques that kick up the pace of mutation with radiation or chemical mutagens are still competitive means of developing new desired traits in a world that has gene editing.
Hybrid seeds already did that 50 years ago.
It's not a great sales slogan: "Roundup Ready - increases costs by increasing the amount of spraying you can do".
2015: Just spray the whole field... weeds, crops and all.
How roundup-ready crops are sold as a good thing, I really have no idea. Somehow the world has been convinced that dousing their food in weedicide isn't a bad idea.
(Roundup is made of glyphosate.)
I live next door to this. Every year my vineyard is blasted by idiots growing corn or soy (farmed by subcontracts of leases off my neighbours land, nice and hands off). Because it's Roundup Ready they don't care or think, they just blast. It's an ecological nightmare.
I'm not concerned about my health, I think glyphosate is mostly harmless to humans. I'm concerned about ecological diversity -- I have a bush lot, I can see the immediate damage this stuff causes to native plants.
Last year I took the growers pesticide training course here. It was very enlightening to see from the co-participants in my class just how derisive they were of the general public's concern about their large scale use of pesticides in areas they consider "theirs", as if there are no neighbours, human or natural.
And it's not like we're talking farmers growing 'food' next door -- it's soy or corn for animal feed. The land owner gets $150 an acre. It's barely profitable. It's stripped the life out of the top soil, so if you factored in the actual value of the land over 50 years, it's probably negative profit considering the permanent topsoil depletion.
It's a stupid way to organize human affairs, a total short term waste of precious expendable resources. Modern industrial agriculture is moronic and technocratic arm-chair libertarian justifiers of it who read a couple articles in The Economist and watch a TED talk are complicit in its ugliness.
Plant breeding 101:
Every individual has two copies of each gene: one comes form the father, on from the mother. It has been observed that individuals who mostly have different maternal and paternal versions, are more vigorous. This is called heterosis, or hybrid vigor .
Now, just to produce children with a high number of genes that have different paternal and maternal copies, it would be enough to have a father and a mother who mostly do not have same copies. But if father has versions G1 and G2, and mother has versions G3 and G4, the child can have any of (G1,G3), (G1,G4), (G2,G3), (G2,G4). So the features of the children are not predictable.
So plant breeders have invented this method, to use inbreeding to produce highly homozygous  lines first. Suppose (G1,G3) is the type you want. So first breed line A of plants which always have (G1,G1) and similarly for other genes. And breed line B which consistently have (G3,G3).
Now use A as father and B as mother, and voila, you can produce offspring that consistently have (G1,G3). So the offspring exhibit hybrid vigor, but are also predictable and similar to each other. Quality and consistency!
Now sell these seeds, everyone wants to buy highly productive consistent quality seeds. Profit!
But as long and you are the only possessor of the parent lines A and B, you are the only one who can produce this particular type of hybrid offspring. The customers only get the offspring, and you keep the lines A and B safe and secret.
If the customer tries to mate those (G1,G3) individuals with each other, they will get a mix of (G1,G1), (G1,G3) and (G3,G3), so the next generation will not be nearly as productive crop as the pure hybrid seed was.
So, the "vendor lock-in" is structured by not giving anyone else access to the parent lines A and B.
The seeds might not be sterile, but even then the seed would produce unreliable plants.
The viability of hybrid offspring depends on the closeness of the parents. Lots of flowers can be bread from very diverse stock and the offspring are sterile, cash crop hybrids are not made from such diversity and are generally re-plantable.
Its an issue trying to support farmers in developing countries. Our Romanian sister church didn't accept our corn hybrids. They had their own 'land race' seed they've been creating for generations, which works well on their difficult soil. If we sent them hybrids, they'd work for one season. And then they would be dependent on us for continuous shipments of seed each spring. We left them with their self-sufficient seed.
GMO isn't that, Monsanto is that, and the fucked up patent system is like that.
This is like creationists saying they dislike evolution, when they really mean they dislike abiogenesis, but accept everything else about evolutionary theory.
What's good for a single business is often not good for the general public.
Years of study have convinced me that the general train of thought expressed here is wrong - and have given me a theory for a reason that so many smart people are wrong about it. The wrong idea, imho, is the idea that hunger comes from insufficient food production, and that exotic technology (GMO) will solve the production problem, thus ending hunger. I think this is wrong on both counts.
The reason so many people here believe something I find obviously wrong is because of basic technofetishism. We love "science". We love exotic technology. And we want to believe exotic technology can make the world better, because it so often has. So people are starting by jumping to a conclusion (GMO is good, because science!), and working backwards to a problem they imagine it can solve (hunger). But that's not critical thinking. That's wishful thinking.
Problems first. Figure out what the actual problems are, and why we have them. Apply the Five Whys.
I am disquieted that someone who professes to care as deeply as you seems to have failed to grasp the positions of those with whom they disagree. You have caricatured those who disagree with you as technofetishists who believe MORE PRODUCTION solves all things, incapable of seeing beyond what might be done with the newest technotoy. Whereas you know better and emerge to enlighten the benighted.
I have seen this pattern before. It seems to repeatedly emerge in activists of all stripes. I wish you the best of luck.
If the argument for GMO crops is not that more production will solve the hunger problem, then what is the intent? And do you believe this represents the majority of pro-GMO arguments?
Please, understand that I love being proven wrong. If I can be convinced to change my mind on something I care about, I'm smarter for it. But it requires more than telling me I'm wrong. Tell me what's right.
2. That doesn't follow.
3. I'm not proposing that we ban GMO. I think it's important research.
What I want to see is more focus on eating local, more decentralization of the food supply, and for people to care more about what they eat - as an aesthetic and moral experience. It's about health, and quality of life, and freedom, none of which are enhanced by loading another round into Monsanto's chamber.
And can we please separate Monsanto from GMOs? They're two entirely separate things.
It reminds me a bit of creationists who claim they don't accept evolution, when in reality what they don't accept is abiogenesis. Natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow, are not really on their minds.
It may be easier to say "GMOs don't solve actual problems", but it's just not true (bananas are supposed to have seeds, for example -- are you saying bananas aren't useful?), and bleeds your argument dry of rationality, over the course of the conversation, because it pulls focus away from the actual issue, and that's the fucked up way Monsanto is using GMOs to bully people out of their livelihood (and in some cases, their lives).
That's a start.
(ps: Bananas are not GMO. Seedless bananas and other fruits are the result of selective breeding, not laboratory alteration. Also, look up the history of the once-dominant Gros Michael banana for what happens when you rely on uniform planting of genetic clones.)
That's like saying we shouldn't have professional sports because they don't solve obesity.
What I'm generally getting at is the hate for GMO is unfounded. It's like hating a screwgun or hammer when your contractor messes up building your kitchen.
Foods have been modified to stay fresher and be more nutritious. But you don't see them in stores.
This is a case of GMOs to preserve freshness, rather than nutrition.
That said, the cost improvements in food aren't such a big impact on real hunger. When people are too broke to eat, making food half as expensive really doesn't have that much impact. And much of the savings-per-calorie relative to fresh food get factored into profits.
Food deserts are a huge problem in this country - places where there is no access to fresh food. They don't happen because junk food is cheap, but rather because it's stable. Fresh food can be just as cheap, if you can keep it flowing.
You're not wrong about the lack of advances in genetics arriving in markets. What I think you've overlooked is that between attacks on the business models that make such advances possible and the political cover that such attacks bring to the "DON'T EAT THE SCIENCE" people... this isn't likely to change. So please, don't complain about the lack of advances in genetics until you're prepared to stop giving cover to the Luddites ranting about frankenfoods. Proposing a different - and practical and workable - business model that allows for the commercial development of GMOs without abusing copyright would be a great way to go about this.
Also: look up Golden Rice. More nutritious foods have been made. And the lock-in angle addressed. Yet the stuff is still not widely grown.
Your reading of food deserts is naive, however. Junk food isn't just cheap in money. It's cheap in time, infrastructure, and required knowledge. A burger from McD's is cheap, hot, and instantly edible. Even the cheapest of Healthy Fresh Green Things requires time to cook, facilities to cook in, equipment to cook, the knowledge to cook, and a place to store the results.
You cannot just put Healthy Fresh Green Things in food deserts and get results. People have tried, and the stuff rots on store shelves.
I completely and utterly disagree that I'm "giving cover" to the people that I called (and you quoted) "DONT EAT THE SCIENCE". That's open mockery of their Luddite ways, and I come down hard on them in these discussions. I loathe their ignorance-wrapped-in-smugness attitude. But by the same token, I have no love for the people who love GMO because "It's SCIENCE!" (you know, the ones who downvote my comments on this subject), without thinking about what problems they're actually trying to solve.
Solving problems that don't actually exist is why many startups fail. There's indirection going on here. As I've said repeatedly, the problem GMOs solve isn't food supply, because we don't have a food supply problem. The population of the Earth has doubled in 50 years, and food costs have dropped 50% over that same period. Does this sound like desperate measure time? No, it sounds like what we've been doing has been tremendously successful at making food more available and less expensive.
So the the problem GMO solves isn't making more food - it's making more money for Monsanto. Is this what we really want as a society? More concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a business model that can and does buy governments? For all the self-styled libertarianism around here, people sure are eager to hand massive corporations that don't act in their interests even more power. Me, I think that's stupid.
Again, what problem are you trying to solve? And does that problem actually exist? If you start with a solution that stimulates your nerd fantasies, and then defend that solution instead of reframing the problem, you're probably wrong.
Loss of biodiversity is an observable problem. Monocropping damaging the soil is an observable problem (and is nitrogen fertilizer and Roundup a solution?). Cash crops bringing outside money and political abuse into developing countries is an observable problem - one far more directly involved in third world hunger than crop yields. I'm after the real problems of the food chain. Are you?
That may be a problem with the IP regime and some specific common business practices around GMOs, but its not a problem with GMOs qua GMOs -- its a social, not technical, problem.
To put it more bluntly, the horrors of this stuff (I live next to it and suffer its idiocies, see post elsewhere in thread) is the fault of engineers and marketers, not "science" per se.
We are at the stage with GMOs where we were in the 1950s with baby formula. We once thought that it would eliminate the need for human breast milk because we didn't understand the nature of human breast milk except at a very crude macrobiotic level. We now have learned that it's not a superior replacement for real human breast milk. Its a barely adequate one that we choose only if we can't get the child good human breast milk.
Let's get concrete. In what specific nutritional manner do you think Golden Rice is inferior to the varietal of white rice from which it was derived? And if the answer to this is that we don't know enough about nutrition to be sure, then what basis do you have for alleging its supposed inferiority?
Is the position that you mean to stake out perhaps that it's possible for GMOs to be inferior, rather than that they are necessarily so?
Seriously I refuse to eat Chipotle with their fear mongering Anti-GMO stance on the front window.
I mean, presumably someday far in the future, everyone will have access to the ability to alter fully their entire genome.
I would think in the next XX years, though, there will be plenty of remaining distinguishing features beyond skin color, and more importantly, plenty of people without the money to make any changes.
Besides that, I'm hopeful that we'll still retain diversity, so I'd think we'll still have plenty of races for ignorant folks to hate.
When racism is done, we'll just continue hating for other reasons. I speculate class will lead the charge next.
Just a bit.
>plenty of people without the money to make any changes.
>I speculate class will lead the charge next.
Exactly, it transforms the race problem into a class problem. People will probably discriminate based on how many designer genes you have. With time, most governments (not necessarily the US) will realize how much they can save by giving people healthy genes from the start, and it won't be as much of a class divide.
Fads will come and go regarding some group of genes being better from such task or other. Like diets and workouts today, it will become tiresome for most people quickly enough.
This is good. In the last century we transformed race from a military problem to a political problem. In this century it will become a technical problem. There will be plenty of nastiness, but each step reduces nastiness by an order of magnitude.
>I'm hopeful that we'll still retain diversity
We will win a whole new diversity. There will be people with chameleon skin walking among us in this century.
The poverty-as-disease model already shows that governments could save money by treating/preventing poverty rather than providing lifetimes of palliative care. The problem is the moralizing about poverty.
On a slightly more serious note, income disparity is a thing but it also closely correlates with technology disparity. Folks who are embracing technology and using it to amplify their ability to get stuff done are generating higher incomes than those who don't. I don't see this as any different.
The core of the problem of GMO crops on open, non-isolated fields, is that it's impossible to control the impact of new, artificial genes on complex ecosystems. Fixing defect genes in humans is a completely different issue. With its own ethical and practical concerns, sure, but totally different and unrelated concerns.
No, actually, accepting GMO crops could quite well go along with targeting specific unliked business practices engaged in by Monsanto.
> who has a monopoly on the industry
No, they don't. They are the biggest player, but there a numerous others, several not much smaller.
(There's some concerns that the relations within the industry are cartel-like, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the industry get some anti-trust scrutiny, but "Monsanto has a monopoly" -- on the GMO crop industry, rather than the market for particular poorly-substitutable kinds of crops -- is not at all the case.)
Can you explain this? It would seem as the biggest player, they have a huge advantage over other smaller companies. So much so, I couldn't name two other companies who currently compete with them.
> Can you explain this?
The less noise there is about GMOs qua GMOs, the more possible it is to focus attention on Monsanto's (or other GM crop firms') -- or, for that matter, non-GM crop firms -- particular business practices of concern, rather than the kind of technology that goes into creating their product.
> It would seem as the biggest player, they have a huge advantage over other smaller companies. So much so, I couldn't name two other companies who currently compete with them.
Monsanto, I think, gets disproportionate attention for two reasons: (1) it absolute dominates a GM crops in two key markets in the US (virtually all the US GM corn and soy is Monsanto), and its also, of the big GM seed companies, the one that is best known as a big GM seed company, and not as a chemical (etc.) company (though, of course, Monsanto is also a chemical company, so this is completely about perception) -- most people may not think of "GM crops" when they think about DuPont, Dow, BASF, or Bayer, but they're all significant players in the GM industry.
The FDA approves drugs based on risk vs. safety. Having the wrong eye color is pretty low risk in terms of health.
Gene editing will be used in fatal or severely disabling diseases with no other options. Even if there are severe side effects, the FDA will likely approve them.
Neural networks via deep learning started showing incredible results the last few years (after about 40 years of development) across a range of fields, including speech recognition, machine vision, and more. It's still early days, but combining reinforcement learning with neural networks looks like it will be very exciting too: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v518/n7540/full/nature1...
* the fact that many of the dinosaurs had feathers
* myriad of exoplanets
* water on Mars (and many other new data on the planet)
* Higg's boson (confirmed to 99.999% certainty)
* Neanderthal genes present in modern humans
* new ancient Mayan cities
Actually, I'd just put "rapid sequencing" right near the top of the list. When I started grad school (in 2003 if you must know), there was a feeling that it'd be very hard to get any better/faster than Sanger sequencing (and modifications of the same). Now there's a plethora of technologies that are both faster and more accurate.
Sorry to nitpick, but the inherent error rate of high throughput sequencing platforms is still higher than capillary sequencing. This is more than mitigated for by the massive throughput advantage though.
You can turn a Sanger run around relatively quickly (I'd guess hours). High throughput runs sequence many millions of fragments of DNA in parallel very slowly. The highest throughput runs take several days to complete.
This means that it's there are still (rapidly diminishing) scenarios where Sanger sequencing makes sense. Because you don't need the throughput, and you want an answer quickly.
Error rates are in the region of 1 to 0.1% generally.
I've never really worked directly with capillary data but understand it's error rate in early bases is limited by the amplification step. Which would be ~0.0001% (1 in 10000).
That said there might be a coarse filter (based on signal intensity etc) that would identify a subpopulation of high-throughput reads which have a <0.1% error rate. But I don't believe I've seen that reported. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has thoughts on that though.
Understanding our place in the universe will tell us where we came from and where we're going. There's also clearly some fundamental physics left to master which might have unforseen practical applications.
We're on our own, and I bet no science or discoveries will change this.
But where did the universe come from? What happened before it? How far does it extend beyond our view? Are there other universes? Where are the other species? Are we stuck on this rock or is there really a way to go see it all? Etc etc.
More importantly: the fact that other solar systems look nothing like our own. They tend to have large (often super-Jovian) planets close to their sun, and often multiple planets closer to their sun than Mercury. There are very, very few solar systems we know of that resemble our own.
And the fact that chickens are actually coming from Dinosaurs.
All economic activity will be blockchain-mediated. It will make us wealthier and freer.
At some level, this basic fact should be incredibly obvious to anyone with any technical background: It's much cheaper and easier to operate a centralized, eventually-consistent database (today's banking system) than a distributed ledger that requires constantly burning electricity and computing resources on useless math puzzles. Nevertheless, I still see bitcoin advocates claiming bitcoin will be cheaper than the legacy transaction system.
Just out of curiosity and not to diminish their current practical implications, are blockchains really a new invention?
"Audi and Sunfire claim that the process to make e-diesel is 70 percent efficient. They estimate that once production is ramped up, the cost to consumers in Europe would be comparable to traditional diesel, at 1.00 to 1.50 euro per liter (approximately $4.00 to $6.00 per gallon)."
(Where does that heat come from? Many possibilities, but currently from fossil fuels.)
First, the researchers heat up steam to very high temperatures to break it down into hydrogen and oxygen. This process requires temperatures of over 800 degrees Celsius (1,472 Fahrenheit) and is powered by green energy such as solar or wind power.
Zero-Determinant Strategies in Iterated Prisoners' Dilemma
I'd say in terms of impact on philosophy, religion and way of life, the large number of planets we're discovering.
Another example is nuclear energy. Clean, abundant, and extremely safe. The fear of radiation exposer has turned it into a pariah in the world community; totally ignoring the fact the radioactive elements in coal emissions have kill more people in the last 30 years than 100 Three Mile Island incidences would.
The "fear of radiation" is perhaps the least important problem (with bigger ones including cost, centralization, waste disposal and environmental issues), yet the only problem some proponents of the technology wants to discuss, perhaps with the implication that if we treat everyone else as stupid they will go away. Perhaps after so many years it is time to reevaluate that strategy.
But, unlike asbestos, graphene won't be literally all around everyone right? And it won't be worked on by people who weren't informed of risks and provided with proper safety gear.
Also unlike asbestos we may be able to manufacture products which use an astonishingly small mass of graphene to be useful. Perhaps that small mass can be suspended/isolated with other materials that will mitigate the likelihood of impacting humans.
Yeah, but what do you do about the waste? The US has tons of waste sitting around. The grand plan of using Yucca Mountain to store the waste fizzled. We have just postponed the cost to a future generation who'll have to deal with the waste we're producing today.
I wonder how they'll be able to tackle the problem while simultaneously dying from the lung and skin cancer they got from all that burned coal.
Graphene will see adoption, but will probably be halted at the first sign of asbestos like diseases. I can only imagine how hard it would be to dispose of products with graphene correctly.
Nuclear companies are in bad shape nowadays, because governments around the world caught up with the way they conduct business.
This mechanism could also be the cause of the refreshment we feel after a short nap or meditation. Much harder to study though!
Also see pretty much every space probe of the "last few years". Pity you couldn't wait another month for the Pluto flyby, unless it completely fails there will be plenty to talk about.
I would imagine the biological sciences could list all kinds of interesting, possibly useful, critters.
The geologists and archeologists are always digging something cool up.
We've gone from believing planets are extremely rare to knowing planets are relatively common. Now that planets are known to be common, does that mean life is common? What will that do to the cultures that, in effect, support themselves on the belief that humans and the earth are unique?
What's the difference, apart from the quality of answers?
OTOH Quantum error correcting codes are pretty bananas. Won't be useful for a good while.
EDIT: the correct answer is that gene editing stuff though.
NOW HANDS OFF IT'S MINE! MINE I SAY!
 2012: http://www.nature.com/news/molecular-analysis-supports-contr...
 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17060-first-dino-blood...
Given the uncertainties, I'd still want to keep cryonics as a back up. (Though it looks unavailable here in Western Europe.)
A competing theory is programmed aging (in which "clutter" would be an effect of, not a cause): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1369273/
discovered, this is a tautology
>> Is math invented or discovered?
>> Was automata theory invented or discovered?
>>OK well then is the quicksort algorithm invented or discovered?
invented, unless you believe that humans do quicksort intuitively. In which case it wasn't invented by you, personally.
>>Is LISP invented or discovered?
>>Is my code invented or discovered?