Monday, November 13, 2006

A Bedtime Story - Advanced Genetics

Little G was reading a book about genetics. The book described cloning, mutations, genetically engineered creatures, including humans, and the like.

Little G: Daddy, what's PGD?
G-Man: I don't know, let me see your book.
G-Man, after reading: It looks like it's a way to select the production of creatures. You know that our bodies are made up of cells that constantly divide and grow. This book says that you take a cell from a creature very early during the creation of its life, when it is made of only a few cells, say 8 cells, you remove the cell, and then test it. If the genetic testing of the cell reveals that the creature has genetically desirable features, then you reimplant the cells into the mother, where it gestates to become a baby.
Little G: That's cool.
G-Man: Once, the parents of a sick little girl wanted to help her live. She needed replacement cells from someone who was genetically similar to her. So the parents used PGD to help them pick the right brother for the girl, and had the boy. Cells from the boy's umbilical cord were used to save the girl.
Little G: Wow, that's really neat.
G-Man: I bet that once we study and learn the genetic makeup of a man, and identify the function of all the chromosomes in a cell, we will determine how to make us live longer.
Little G, rapidly turning pages: That's in this book too, see. Here it talks about the end zones of the genes and how they wear out after the cells divide too many times. It's like they are programmed for death.
G-Man: They'll probably figure it out during your lifetime, but not mine.
Little G: Daddy, what would you do if you could live forever?
G-Man: I would develop a way to colonize another planet, like Mars, and then from there, explore the rest of the Universe.

[continued ...]