A little of Column A…

These news items are positively chimeric

Published May 6, 2024

In a post-Frankenstein era, people seem to be leaning into hybrids instead of running away from them. We’re no exception, so enjoy this mish-mashed collection of hybrid related news!

The same thing we do every night, Pinky!

Rats and mice may look similar, but there are 33 million evolutionary years between them. They’re totally different animals! This fact has not stopped mad genetic scientists from using stem cells to create hybrid mouse/rat brains, in pursuit of deeper understanding of human diseases … and maybe a Ratatouille situation?

We could be reading that wrong, but one thing that’s certain: This new research is the first time that an animal (a mouse) has had the sensory apparatus (olfactory receptors) of a second animal (a rat). In essence, the lucky brain-altered mice can now smell the world like a rat does. “What we are doing is really cutting edge,” Columbia U. team lead Kristin Baldwin insisted in a press release.

The team introduced rat stem cells into mouse blastocytes at an early stage of development, so the rat and mouse cells could grow together and integrate on their own. “You could see rat cells throughout the entire mouse brain, which was fairly surprising to us,” Baldwin admitted. 

What’s next, if not rat chefs? “Our aspiration is to enrich pig organs with a certain percentage of human cells,” researcher Jun Wu said, “with the aim of improving outcomes for organ recipients.” Fine, we guess that sounds better.

But can it hover in a drivethru?

Is it a car? Is it a plane? Is it a hybrid winged sports car that actually flies?

Wait–it’s that last thing???

In a recent video, French musician Jean-Michel Jarre became the first passenger on KleinVision’s AirCar. Like something out of a sci-fi movie, the sleek ride can go from automobile to flight-ready in just minutes (sadly, it’s currently too much to ask for the thing to transform while you’re driving it). 

Approved for flight a few years back, after more than 200 successful takeoffs and landings, the AirCar runs on a 1.6-liter BMW combustion engine, but Slovakia-based KleinVision plans to transition to battery-powered electric in the future. “We are bridging the gap between the road and the sky,” says company co-founder Anton Zajac, adding that he hopes the car/plane hybrid will be on the market in a year.

If you wanna get in line, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and a special two-to-three-month hybrid flying course… plus probably more money than that used Kia you’ve had your eye on. On U.S shores, Silicon Valley-based start-up Alef Aeronautics announced last month that it has received almost 3,000 pre-orders for its $300,000 Model A flying car.

Sweatpants are real comfy, after all

People seem to really, really like remote work, if a new poll of 3,800 U.S. workers is to be trusted: An astonishing 43% of people would rather go through a divorce or breakup than go back to the office full-time.

It gets worse. 53% of employees fear full-time workplace hours more than they fear climate change. 41% fear it more than getting into an accident, and 41% fear it more than an earthquake or hurricane. Yikes!

A wide majority of respondents (71%) would prefer all-remote work, with women craving it even more than that. 22% prefer a hybrid model, which doesn’t leave many percentage points for the office-lovers. Most participants believe that working remotely is better for their mental health, less stressful, and more conducive to productivity and job satisfaction.

If all that isn’t enough to convince you, another recent study by the International Workplace Group says that hybrid work reduces U.S. carbon emissions by 87%. We’ve honestly lost count of the wins in the win-win-win chain here … though your mileage may vary if you’re a landlord.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *