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Reanimate dead pet? Cloning's a better bet

Question: Oh, sad! Your cat Fluffy has cancer and is dying.

Couldn't you have her cryonically preserved (frozen) and hope for a cure and reanimation sometime down the road?

Answer: A better bet might be cloning, since cryonics has never been known to save a single soul, human or otherwise.

On the other hand, sheep, cattle, goats and mice have been successfully cloned, with more on the way.

Cats and dogs are under scrutiny at Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), and "we anticipate success soon," report ACT's Robert Lanza et al. in Scientific American. A surprising number of people are interested in cloning their deceased pet, hoping for Fluffy II or Rover II, since a good deal of a cat or dog's demeanor is thought to be genetically determined and therefore reproducible.

Start with a pet cloning kit that a veterinarian uses to preserve skin samples that are sent back to a lab.

Living cells are best, but dead will likely work, too, so long as they're not too-long dead because DNA deteriorates.

Forget "Jurassic Park," but researchers in Australia are attempting to "revive" the Tasmanian tiger (a wolflike marsupial that died out in the 1930s). One promising pup was preserved in alcohol in 1866.

Cloning is more efficient than traditional breeding, and is obviously the only way for dead or nonreproducing pets. Another use would be for "service" pets, like seeing-eye dogs that are neutered early but turn out to do great work.

Question:Ounce for ounce, is there anything more valuable than gold? What is it about this coveted metal?

Answer: Gold's $265/oz is owing to its beauty, universal status as a monetary standard, corrosion resistance, high electrical conductivity, ductility and malleability allowing it to be drawn into thin industrial wires or flattened into "gold leaf" sheets 5 millionths of an inch thick, says University of Connecticut metallurgist John E. Morral.

Plus the stuff alloys well for use in jewelry and dentistry, taking on a greenish hue with silver added, reddish with copper, silvery "white gold" with nickel, describes Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Paul Balo. "In pure form, gold is the only metal with a yellow color.

Hence the Latin name aurum (symbol Au) from the alchemist's reference to the yellow color of the sun."

Not a bad resume. Still, there are plenty of things pricier, such as diamond, the "precious metals" platinum ($600/ounce), palladium ($1,000) and rhodium ($2,000), some B vitamins, pharmaceuticals, natural radioactive isotopes or manmade ones. The manmade radioisotope "californium-252"— produced atom by atom in nuclear reactors — goes at $65,000 per milligram. "Multiply this out," says Balo, "and Cf-252's gold-ounce equivalent (using the troy ounce) is $2 billion!"

Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at