How To Build A Dragon Or Die Trying: A Satirical Look At Cutting-edge Science

How To Build A Dragon Or Die Trying: A Satirical Look At Cutting-edge Science

by Paul Knoepfler, Julie Knoepfler

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Overview

'This co-authored book explores how advances in cell biology, CRISPR gene editing and bioengineering might be used to make a live dragon. The result is a gloriously tongue-in-check scientific epic … How to Build a Dragon or Die Trying is deliberately flamboyant and outrageous. It's also funny and smart. Far from a how-to guide for ne'er-do-wells to weaponize reptiles, it is designed to spark healthy curiosity in anyone who enjoys a ripping good science read.'
NatureWhat if you could have your own real dragon? While that might seem like just a fantasy, today cutting-edge science has brought us to the point where it might really be possible. This book looks into the possibilities of making living, fire-breathing dragons. The world has been fascinated with dragons for thousands of years. Fictional dragons still have a firm place in pop culture, such as Smaug from The Hobbit as well as the dragons in Game of Thrones and in the How to Train Your Dragon movies. This new book discusses using powerful technologies such as CRISPR gene editing, stem cells, and bioengineering to make real dragons. It also goes through what useful information we can learn from animals such as Pteranodons and amazing present-day creatures in our quest to build actual dragons. The book goes on to discuss the possibility of building other mythical creatures such as unicorns and mermaids. Overall, How to Build A Dragon is also meant as a satirical look at cutting-edge science, and it pokes fun at science hype. Anyone who is interested in dragons or cutting-edge science will enjoy this book! It is written in a humorous, approachable way making science fun and easy to understand, including for young adults.The author is well-known scientist Paul Knoepfler who is familiar to the public for his science, his blog The Niche, and his frequent contributions to lay stories on new science concepts such as stem cells and CRISPR. He also is known for his TED talk on designer babies with more than 1.3 million views, and his two books — . The co-author, his daughter Julie Knoepfler, is a high school student interested in science and writing. She has her own blog on literary and film analysis, and enjoys taking a humorous look at culture through writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789813275935
Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/03/2019
Pages: 252
Sales rank: 208,588
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

The author is well-known scientist Paul Knoepfier who is familiar to the public for his science, his blog The Niche, and his frequent contributions to lay stories on new science concepts such as stem cells and CRISPR. He also is known for his TED talk on designer babies with more than 1.3 million views, and his two books - Stem Cells: An insider's Guide and GMO Sapiens: The Life-Changing Science of Designer Babies. The co-author, his daughter Julie Knoepfler, is a high school student interested in science and writing. She has her own blog on literary and film analysis, and enjoys taking a humorous look at culture through writing.

Table of Contents

Preface v

Chapter 1 So, you want a dragon? 1

Introduction 1

The dragon or the egg? 4

What is a dragon exactly? 6

The Middle East and Africa 7

Asia 7

Ancient and Eastern Europe 9

Central and Western Europe 10

Dragon history: the big picture 12

Why build a dragon? 13

What kind of dragon should we make? 16

What creatures to start with? 17

Chimeras? 19

Flying dragon 22

Fire is fun for a dragon 24

Brain and temperament 25

Our dragon-building team 27

Expect disasters 28

Why write this book? 29

References 31

Chapter 2 Let there be flight 33

Weight VERSUS flight 34

Engineering flight: where to start? 37

Lessons from two extinct giant fliers 41

Patagia for flight 43

Getting a lift 49

Bird options 50

Birds or dragons of a feather 51

Genes and feathered flight 54

Dragon size 58

Where to call home? 59

What could go wrong with dragon flight? 59

How we could cheat on dragon flight 61

Flying on 61

References 61

Chapter 3 Fire! 63

Kindling a fire-breathing dragon 63

Fueling the flames 66

Farts, burps, and other fuel sources 68

Dragon moonshine? 73

Cheats for fueling fire 74

The dragon diet 74

We have ignition (we hope) 76

Electrical ignition 78

How we could cheat on ignition 81

Protecting the dragon from its own fire 81

Lessons from a beetle's butt 83

Heat as a weapon 85

What could go wrong and how might we die? 89

Take-home on fire 90

References 90

Chapter 4 Dragons on the brain 93

Make up your mind 93

A dragon's brain 97

Picking an unpickled starter brain 101

How to grow a brain 105

Growing a mini-brain or "brain organoid" in the Lab 109

Are brain architecture and intelligence linked? 110

Too dumb 113

Too smart 115

Extra smart on purpose 117

Walk the walk, and talk the talk 118

Teach your dragon well 119

Problems bringing up baby Dragon 121

Cheating with a Cyborg Dragon 123

What could go wrong - and yes, you've guessed - lead to our deaths? 123

Trying to get the dragon brain just right 123

References 124

Chapter 5 From head to tail, other dragon features and power-ups 125

A whole menu of options 125

A head (or heads) up? 127

Taking our dragon by the horn 133

Dragon color: it's not black and white 134

A shocking suggestion 138

Before your very eyes 139

Half a brain on and half off 140

Dragon GPS 141

Going swimmingly 142

A leg or more to stand on 143

And another tiling to ruminate… 144

Dragon skin 144

Not just spitting into the wind 145

Finding its voice 146

Is it a girl or a boy or both? 147

Power-ups 149

Power downs 152

What could go wrong and how might we die? 155

Fun with features 155

References 156

Chapter 6 Sex, dragons, and CRISPR 157

Evolving a dragon at warp speed 157

Dragon sex ed and parenting class 163

The golden egg (and sperm) 163

Stem cells 170

No males or sex needed? 174

Cloning class 175

Chimeric embryos and chimeras 179

CRISPR 182

What exactly is CRISPR gene-editing and how does it work? 183

Using CRISPR to make a dragon 184

What could go wrong and how we might die? 186

Dragon building technology 186

References 186

Chapter 7 After a dragon: building unicorns and other mythical creatures 189

Our next challenge: unicorns and other mythical creatures 189

Unicorns 191

A brief history of unicorns 191

How would we create a unicorn? 195

Taking wing with Pegasus 200

A brief history of Pegasus 200

How would we create a flying horse like Pegasus 200

Hippogriffs and Griffins 201

A brief history of hippogriffs and griffins 201

How to build a hippogriff or griffin? 203

A tail of Mermaids and Mermen 204

A brief history of merpeople 204

Hypothetically, how could we create a mermaid (not that we would ever try)? 207

Why it would be unethical to create a Mermaid 207

Make myths real 208

Reference 209

Chapter 8 The ethics and future of engineering dragons and other new beasts 211

Dragon ethics 211

Too dangerous for humanity? 213

Humans as friends or family, not food 214

Would it be good for dragons if we made them? 215

Risks of making malformed dragons along the way 215

Short-lived or sickly dragon? 216

Dragon blues? 217

Dragon benefits? 218

Benefits to the world? 219

Endangering the already at-risk Komodo? 219

What if our dragons outlive us? 221

Ethics and government regulation 221

Where do we get all the needed money without "selling out"? 223

Where we go, will others follow? 224

References 226

Glossary 227

Index 233

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