Sunday, February 19, 2017

Answering Samuel Morse's Question

I am very close to the mineral level of intelligence when it comes to comprehending the rate and pace of technological advancement everywhere in the world in which we live. I confess to still, after a lifetime (so far) of study, to be both enthralled and amazed by mundane miracles like the thermos. Yes, you read that correctly, the 'humble' thermos. But is it really? Think about it. The thermos keeps hot thing hot and cold things cold but how does it know the difference?

So you can imagine how hard the little engine that can't, my brain, worked when first reading months and months ago about clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) which, much to my surprise, and possibly yours, is NOT the name of an up and coming grunge band from Old Bridge, NJ. But I'll give you credit for a good try.

One of my Facebook friends and a very talented person (despite her sometimes questionable taste in Facebook friends), Linda Chorney, led me to CRISPR through her involvement in TED Talks, whose existence, alone, atones for E! and most of the other vanity channels (looking at you, Bravo). It was via one of the TED TALKS that I first heard of Jennifer Doudna and CRISPR.

And to think I started out with "draw the dog's head" from a matchbook cover
This is incredible stuff and more than just a little scary. From what (little) I understand we can now repair ourselves. You hear complaints all the time about 'so and so is playing God,' and this, at least to me, seems to have very little play involved.

Sometimes arts and science outrace legal, moral and societal regulations, restrictions, mores, and taboos and this seems to fall very much in that category. And, perhaps a sign of the times in which we live, there's a monetary aspect to the creation (and alteration) of life I had not really appreciated until this news story.

But, and I'll let draw your own conclusions on the story and the process, my blood runs more than a  little cold(er) when someone offers an observation like, "CRISPR is a gold mine, and that's why you are seeing a gold rush." There's a fine line between being God's children and being God ourselves.
-bill kenny

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