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时间:2018-12-26 15:12来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

Science 2018: Gene1 Editing, Private Space Travel Top List

Here are some of the most popular science stories on the VOA Learning English website in 2018.

Gene-edited babies announced

A Chinese researcher reported last month that he helped to make the world’s first genetically3 edited babies. His claims were quickly condemned4 by other scientists who denounced his claims as “irresponsible”.

The researcher’s employer, Southern University of Science and Technology of China, said it did not know about his activities. China’s government ordered a halt to the work soon after news media reported on the experiment.

The researcher, He Jiankui, said that he had edited or changed the genetic2 material of two human embryos5. The embryos developed into two girls, who were born recently. He Jiankui said he had performed the gene editing to help protect the babies from infection with HIV, the virus responsible for the disease AIDS. He said the process had “worked safely” and the two girls were “as healthy as any other babies.”

There has been no independent confirmation6 of He’s claims, and he has yet to provide documentation of his research.

China’s Ministry7 of Science and Technology called the experiment “unacceptable.”

In 2017, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said gene editing should be used for research and only in a laboratory to learn how to change embryos.

The Academies also said the technique is not ready for human pregnancies8. And if it is ever permitted, it should be used to treat or prevent serious diseases when no better choices are available.

Gene-editing, however, could soon be approved for agricultural products. In fact, the technology used to edit genes9 has become widely available.

The first foods from plants or animals that have had their genetic material, or DNA10, “edited” are expected to appear in stores as early as next year.

CRISPR and TALENs are two of the gene-editing systems that scientists are using. Scientists hope these tools will enable them to make very small, exact changes to plant or animal DNA. The tools operate like scissors, cutting off molecules11 from DNA structures.

The researchers are trying to create foods like soybeans that are healthier to eat, citrus fruit that resists disease and cows that do not have horns.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences says that gene editing is needed to feed the world’s growing population. However, governments are not yet sure how to oversee12 the use of this technology. It also is unclear whether people will be willing to buy gene-edited foods.

Private space flight takes another step

The dream of visiting space for pleasure took another step closer to reality this year.

The space travel company Virgin13 Galactic announced it had successfully sent a rocket ship into space for the first time in December.

The SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity14 climbed to 82 kilometers above California’s Mojave Desert on December 14. Virgin Galactic noted15 that the U.S. Air Force and other government agencies have long used 80 kilometers as their measuring point for space.

The company hopes that people will pay $250,000 for a 90-minute flight. Its chief, Richard Branson, is among the more than 600 people who have expressed a willingness to go.

The company hopes to launch its first passengers into space by March of 2019.

A competing company, SpaceX, wants to take space tourism to an even higher level. In September, SpaceX announced who would be its first private passenger to the moon.

Yasaku Maezawa is the chief executive of Japanese online clothing seller Zozo. He wants to take a trip around the moon in 2023.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk16 said the moon trip will use the company’s Big Falcon17 Rocket, or BFR. He predicted that the rocket will cost about $5 billion to develop. Musk did not say how much Maezawa would pay towards his flight.

Climate change concerns

2018 was marked by continuing concerns about rising temperatures and climate change.

Hurricanes striking the eastern United States and wildfires in California led to urgent calls for new measures. Reports from the U.S. government and United Nations also predicted increased weather-related disasters. These include drier than normal weather conditions, rising sea levels, hunger and other problems, if nothing is done.

In December, officials of nearly 200 countries met in Poland for talks on how to reduce production of carbon gases linked to rising temperatures.

The U.N. conference did not reach agreements on production targets for such gasses, however.

In October, a U.N. report said that many climate-related problems could be avoided if surface temperatures could be kept from rising by .5 degrees Celsius18 by the year 2100.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, reported that it is possible to limit the earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. But to do so would require big changes in the international economy, including a move away from carbon-based fuels like oil and coal.

The United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait opposed calls to include that statement in the IPCC report.

Cleaning the Pacific Ocean

Plastic is a big concern for people living in the Pacific Ocean. There something huge, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is growing.

Experts estimate 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic are floating within a few meters of the ocean’s surface.

A group of engineers launched what they hope will solve the problem in September. The group Ocean Cleanup sent a huge barrier designed to capture plastic waste. It uses the sun’s energy and is designed to keep sea life safe.

Boyan Slat of the Netherlands leads Ocean Cleanup. He said the goal “is to remove 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.”

Products made from plastic take a long time to break up. Many sea animals mistake plastic particles for food. In recent years, whales, sea turtles, birds and other sea life have been found dead with plastic waste in their stomachs.

Environmentalists at the Ocean Conservancy note that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year.

I’m Alice Bryant. And I’m ?Mario Ritter, Jr.

Words in This Story

edit – v. to make changes to something, such as a piece of writing, by adding or removing parts of it

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) – n. a substance that carries genetic information in the cells of plants and animals

executive – n. a person who supervises or directs other people in a company or organization


1 gene WgKxx     
  • A single gene may have many effects.单一基因可能具有很多种效应。
  • The targeting of gene therapy has been paid close attention.其中基因治疗的靶向性是值得密切关注的问题之一。
2 genetic PgIxp     
  • It's very difficult to treat genetic diseases.遗传性疾病治疗起来很困难。
  • Each daughter cell can receive a full complement of the genetic information.每个子细胞可以收到遗传信息的一个完全补偿物。
3 genetically Lgixo     
  • All the bees in the colony are genetically related. 同一群体的蜜蜂都有亲缘关系。
  • Genetically modified foods have already arrived on American dinner tables. 经基因改造加工过的食物已端上了美国人的餐桌。 来自英汉非文学 - 生命科学 - 基因与食物
4 condemned condemned     
adj. 被责难的, 被宣告有罪的 动词condemn的过去式和过去分词
  • He condemned the hypocrisy of those politicians who do one thing and say another. 他谴责了那些说一套做一套的政客的虚伪。
  • The policy has been condemned as a regressive step. 这项政策被认为是一种倒退而受到谴责。
5 embryos 0e62a67414ef42288b74539e591aa30a     
n.晶胚;胚,胚胎( embryo的名词复数 )
  • Somatic cells of angiosperms enter a regenerative phase and behave like embryos. 被子植物体细胞进入一个生殖阶段,而且其行为象胚。 来自辞典例句
  • Evolution can explain why human embryos look like gilled fishes. 进化论能够解释为什么人类的胚胎看起来象除去了内脏的鱼一样。 来自辞典例句
6 confirmation ZYMya     
  • We are waiting for confirmation of the news.我们正在等待证实那个消息。
  • We need confirmation in writing before we can send your order out.给你们发送订购的货物之前,我们需要书面确认。
7 ministry kD5x2     
  • They sent a deputation to the ministry to complain.他们派了一个代表团到部里投诉。
  • We probed the Air Ministry statements.我们调查了空军部的记录。
8 pregnancies 2fedeb45162c233ee9e28d81888a2d2c     
怀孕,妊娠( pregnancy的名词复数 )
  • Since the wartime population needed replenishment, pregnancies were a good sign. 最后一桩倒不失为好现象,战时人口正该补充。
  • She's had three pregnancies in four years. 她在四年中怀孕叁次。
9 genes 01914f8eac35d7e14afa065217edd8c0     
n.基因( gene的名词复数 )
  • You have good genes from your parents, so you should live a long time. 你从父母那儿获得优良的基因,所以能够活得很长。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Differences will help to reveal the functions of the genes. 它们间的差异将会帮助我们揭开基因多种功能。 来自英汉非文学 - 生命科学 - 生物技术的世纪
10 DNA 4u3z1l     
(缩)deoxyribonucleic acid 脱氧核糖核酸
  • DNA is stored in the nucleus of a cell.脱氧核糖核酸储存于细胞的细胞核里。
  • Gene mutations are alterations in the DNA code.基因突变是指DNA密码的改变。
11 molecules 187c25e49d45ad10b2f266c1fa7a8d49     
分子( molecule的名词复数 )
  • The structure of molecules can be seen under an electron microscope. 分子的结构可在电子显微镜下观察到。
  • Inside the reactor the large molecules are cracked into smaller molecules. 在反应堆里,大分子裂变为小分子。
12 oversee zKMxr     
  • Soldiers oversee the food handouts.士兵们看管着救济食品。
  • Use a surveyor or architect to oversee and inspect the different stages of the work.请一位房产检视员或建筑师来监督并检查不同阶段的工作。
13 virgin phPwj     
  • Have you ever been to a virgin forest?你去过原始森林吗?
  • There are vast expanses of virgin land in the remote regions.在边远地区有大片大片未开垦的土地。
14 unity 4kQwT     
  • When we speak of unity,we do not mean unprincipled peace.所谓团结,并非一团和气。
  • We must strengthen our unity in the face of powerful enemies.大敌当前,我们必须加强团结。
15 noted 5n4zXc     
  • The local hotel is noted for its good table.当地的那家酒店以餐食精美而著称。
  • Jim is noted for arriving late for work.吉姆上班迟到出了名。
16 musk v6pzO     
n.麝香, 能发出麝香的各种各样的植物,香猫
  • Musk is used for perfume and stimulant.麝香可以用作香料和兴奋剂。
  • She scented her clothes with musk.她用麝香使衣服充满了香味。
17 falcon rhCzO     
  • The falcon was twice his size with pouted feathers.鹰张开羽毛比两只鹰还大。
  • The boys went hunting with their falcon.男孩子们带着猎鹰出去打猎了。
18 Celsius AXRzl     
  • The temperature tonight will fall to seven degrees Celsius.今晚气温将下降到七摄氏度。
  • The maximum temperature in July may be 36 degrees Celsius.七月份最高温度可能达到36摄氏度。
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