Archive for December, 2007

Just Like Me

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a poem called My Shadow” a real image that followed him about, springing from his feet, shooting up with the descending sun or almost disappearing under his feet at high noon. The shadow was a copy of him, not exactly the copy scientists are trying for under the noun of clone. A clone would be an exact copy and men began to fantasize of self copies that would enable them to make an impact on their space or some loftier expectation.

The very definition of clone defies the possibility of making an exact copy. A body cannot be duplicated molecule for molecule immediately and totally under any circumstance. Science fiction or Scotty’s ability to “beam me up” notwithstanding. The clone of a sheep in England was touted as a scientific breakthrough.

True. It was unique but the new sheep was not an exact copy of it’s mother or the other half of the egg from which it was separated. It had gone through a development within a uterus and looked like the sheep that it was. But the egg or part thereof from which it developed spent time on its own as a fetus, living on fluids from the cord connected to the wall of the host uterus. The experiences would have been similar to those of the host but not possibly identical, first, because the host developed within another womb and second because the host developed in a different time. Even copying a particularly productive milk producer does not guarantee the clone will develop an udder that will produce five gallons of milk at a stripping.

Then think of the development of a person. Nine months within a uterus. The ensuing eighteen or more years depending on the adult who wishes to be cloned must pass. During that time many different experiences will have separated the original being from the clone as to consider it ridiculous to pretend it was an exact copy. Cloning females may be more possible than males. Actually the concept is fascinating. Society would do a few things differently when populated with many more of me.

‘Tis The Season

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

No doubt about it. We humans – all life in fact – live by the light. The sun sustains us. And in the long nights of darkness, we turn to technology and light up our lives. Bright indoor lamps to read by, brilliant security lights on poles the better to illuminate the landscape just in case we care to see what’s there or what is not.

There was a time in the not so distant past (50 thousand years) when such technology was not available and our ancestors sat in wonder of the night sky. We have evidence that their imagination and creativity were not idle. They tracked the stars and discovered planets and made stone edifices to mark the time when nights became shorter and days longer. It was a method of setting time for planting. When we were first humans we were farmers and animals begged for domestication and plants congregated for easy harvest. Our ancestors depended upon crops from which to gather grains for bread and fruits for alcohol. Our appetites drove our progress.

Our brains by that time developed as well as our vocal chords and we invented symbols and methods of scribing them for each generation to learn and build upon. Evidence indicates our brains have not progressed but technologies the brains, in league with our wonderful thumbs, devised knows no bounds. Each decade, nay each year, new discoveries are made and human understanding of ourselves is such a fantasy as to defy any concept of a creator beyond nature.

see trespassers or

We are a wonder of chemistry. As Dawkins reminds us, we are made of star stuff. It is no wonder that we feel a kinship with the sun. We are all of the same chemistry. How the atoms or molecules or whatever the basic life builders are, came together to become, over the billions of eons, humans is a constant puzzle to examine. And our imagination, creativity and restlessness will continue to see answers, not from the sun but from the simple essence of which it is.

Ahhh, Nature

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

How can people get back to nature if they don’t know what nature is? The human species within the past two thousand years set itself so far above nature that to find its way back compels a retreat. Because the species considers itself “better” (which means higher like on a ladder), anything less is undesirable. How anxious will the species be to back down a ladder feet first? And what then? Will it expect to step into something like what a house cat deposits in the dirt?

Even that, too, is sad because expelling feces is not only natural but imperative. People and their bodily functions ARE natural. Animals eat. Whatever an animal ingests is dealt with within each individual’s body. In odd ways sometimes. Lactose intolerance is one way some human bodies refuse to accept dairy products. Other problems the medical system considers allergies, show up in itchy and unsightly rashes, or more serious ways that lead to death. Sometimes in very short order.

Brains, curiosity, and creativity allowed upright humans to do what other animals could not and still cannot do. Human species left the tree swingers five million years past. The prehensile thumb went beyond other apes. First, to record symbols the species devised, then to preserve those records, which were widely disseminated and painstakingly improved upon by succeeding generations. And eventually inventors came up with paper, printing presses and all the resulting knowledge available to following generations. Pretty cool, huh?

And it all came naturally within the last fifty thousand years. Although not easily, nor quickly. The species must find its way back to nature. The alternative is to destroy the very habitat on which it depends.

Can the species expect continuous happy progress for at least the next fifty thousand years?