Mitochondrial donation. These two words are poised to create a firestorm of controversy around the world, as some governments are considering allowing parents who use in-vitro techniques to have children, to allow mitochondrial DNA from a third donor to replace some of the existing mitochondrial DNA in the egg. Based on a procedure called cytoplasmic transfer pioneered in the 1990s, the method is intended to prevent the passing on of inherited and incurable diseases through mitochondrial DNA, which is carried from mother to child.
But naturally, when most people hear anything about this, they picture Khan:
And they predictably freak out. Are we at the doorstep of the long-feared eugenics program? Continue reading
David, the android (from Prometheus, 20th Century Fox)
Prometheus, the sort-of Alien prequel, opened in theatres a few weeks ago, and already it’s generating a lot of buzz… not for its production or acting, which were nothing short of excellent… but for the many questions the movie raises about the origins and history of life on Earth, the spread of life in the cosmos, and the morality of experimentation with life. Many of these questions are left unanswered by the end of the movie, leading to the possibility that we could see these questions debated for years in the movie’s aftermath. (Caution: Major spoilers follow.) Continue reading
The new book is Verdant Pioneers, sequel to last year’s hit Verdant Skies. Pioneers picks up a year after the events of Verdant Skies, as the satellite Verdant struggles to make ends meet out in deep space, moving from system to system in search of the raw materials it needs to survive, fighting off terrorist factions that seek to force their return to Earth influence, and unsure of Earth’s state. No one on Earth knows Verdant’s status, either, and both sides are afraid of aggression from the other.
And when the deep-space discovery of the age is spoiled by the unexpected disappearance of one of their freighters, Julian Lenz and his staff must make a difficult decision: To take Verdant into hiding, perhaps forever; or to return to Earth, and risk Verdant’s survival. Continue reading
A favorite book, and series, of mine: Beggars goes into such wonderful depth and unique directions, regarding the future of genetically-altered humans, that it almost felt like I was reading the only book that had really considered the subject.Continue reading