Saturday, October 3, 2009
It’s not life as we know it, Captain…
Imagine a long, winding set of lights on a wire. Some of the bulbs are on and some are off. The wire twists around another one. Itâ€™s the double helix. And, do you know, until I saw this mock up on the box I assumed that the lights that were on, stayed on through your life and the ones that had failed to ignite, stayed doggo. Not at all. Watching one reel of a new tv series on twins in London, en passant, I became educated in the knowledge of (I think) epigenesis. Whatever the term ( I remember Piaget using it, so I could have got it mixed up), I was assured by the very nice doctor that these lights can be switched on and off through life as the genes interact with the environment. This means that at our very core, the blueprint of life, the map of what makes me different from you, is not static. I always imagined it was. But identical twins show that it isnâ€™t. If they live life differently, epigenesist happens and they become less and less identical. It means that change can be wrought in our DNA. It means that we will eventually be able to press back the tide of death, forever.
I have written before about the thrust of medical science taking humanity into a future wherein we are able to redesign ourselves so that we can live in any place; Mars, the Moon, interstellar space, under the sea. The great debate (originally won by Darwinists, or so they thought) that evolution was a slow battle of the survival of the fittest, via natural selection, may now have shifted in favour of the Lamarckians. Lamarck suggested that evolution was a complex mix of environment and alchemy! Essentially we evolve towards greater complexity in an orderly manner and this does not need to take generations but even sudden shifts in the environment can cause a species to change. It was a theory of its time but, symbolically, it seems closer to what science has on offer today. Stem cell surgery and bionic bits are fast becoming as much part of our bodies as new fashion on High Street rails . Now, even the atomic level is open to our alchemy. We can turn the base lead of our every day bodies into the gold of champions. We can all become super heroes.
We are Gods.
From my point of view we canâ€™t do any worse than the Gods we have had up to now.