Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What a sad day this is for mammothophiles everywhere:
Disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, whose team became an international laughingstock after they faked their entirety of their embryonic stem cell research, appeared in court on Monday in a trial about charges that he embezzled public and private research funds. Hwang admitted he spent more than one million in attempting to clone a mammoth.

Hwang was indicted in May by South Korean government prosecutors who say that Hwang misspent public and private dollars intended for research.

On Monday, Hwang admitted he spent part of the money, some $1.05 million in failed attempts to clone mammoths, extinct members of the elephant family.

"We secured mammoth tissues from glaciers and tried cloning three times, but failed," Hwang said.

Hwang indicated South Korea's powerful SK Group gave his research team the money and that it was intended for "peripheral activities related to the research."

In his original case of scientific fraud and in his alleged current financial misdeeds, Hwang has claimed that junior members of his research team lied to him. I wonder if they lied to him about the mammoth tissue as well. None of the known frozen mammoths, or other frozen extinct quaternary mammals, was found in a glacier. All were found encased in frozen mud or silt. The image of frozen animals in glaciers--usually crystal clear ice with the animal caught in mid-stride looking rather surprised--is the stuff of cartoons with no more basis in reality than not falling till you look down or Acme Catalog products. The only way to get the surprised looking animal in clear ice is to use a freeze ray.

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