Monday, October 15, 2007

Lets Play God!

I know I am not addicted to it. But still a 3rd post in a single day can be considered as the first common symptom of ‘blogomania’!! Actually I meant to blog about this year’s noble prize for medicine which were announced a week ago, quite some time back but could not do it. Now’s the time for it!
I read whatever Michael Crichton comes out with quite faithfully. To tell you the truth, I actually like this guy who at the end of one of his novels bemoans “Everybody has an agenda. Except me!’ Isn’t he such a sweetheart! When I was in college and did not care much about Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, because I thought that it was for kids, one of my lecturers told me to read the book and lo, after reading the book I instantly became Crichton’s huge fan, even though I had never really liked sci-fi genre as such (Cook and et al ). It was more than a year ago that I read Crichton’s ‘Next’ which is all about the possibilities from the new genetic world that can go haywire. It has a human-chimp hybrid that talks, an African parrot that quotes from movies which is definitely not out of context. The novel is bizarre but as unputdownable as any other novel of Crichton’s. So when this year’s Nobel for Medicine was announced for efforts towards creating life in the lab, I definitely had reasons to muse about it.
In our school one of the oft repeated Thought for the Day that used to get written on the black board of our class room was “Man who cannot create a small maggot is capable of creating thousands of Gods”. I don’t remember who it was attributed to, but our little minds understood what it was trying to convey. Later when I read Huxley’s Brave New World it had a special appeal but I never thought of it as the possible future of Mankind. My cousins hated me for liking the book and also the New World. I liked the well-stratified, conflictless world sans emotions and feelings but 15-16 years ago I never could imagine that life can be one day created in a lab. But when I had to study about Human Genome Project for the exam (I still don’t know whether they have completely identified all the genes in human DNA, and determined the sequences of the billions of chemical base pairs that make up human DNA), I began to understand the full implications of the Project if and when it gets completed. We used to describe HGP as the blueprint for creating human life. From reading genetic code to copying it to tampering and writing the code has been a natural sequence of the genetic research. It was just a matter of when.
Will it -creation of life artificially with chemicals synthesisied in the lab successfully- be another small step for the man and a giant leap for the mankind? Already many have questioned whether it is wise to play God. But how can one be even sure that one is playing God? May be its also just one of those assumptions, which can neither be proved false nor true. But whatever, if it amounts to playing God, Lets play it!!

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