I admire science. Because of it, we no longer live in caves or worry about why the sun sometimes goes dark. I’m curious, however, about what attracts a scientist’s attention. Writer Ray Bradbury wrote that to touch a scientist is to touch a child which means, I suppose, that wonder is at the heart of the matter. But why would anyone create a 3-D printer to allow me to create my own cosmetics, for example? Has someone got a grudge against Revlon? (“Invention of the Week,” The Week, May23, 2014 pg. 16.)
Of course, my wonder about a cosmetic machine doesn’t compare to the curiosity scientists have unleashed in the field of synthetic biology. Now that the human genome had been cracked, researchers have gone on to wonder if more letters could be added to our DNA. A, G,C,T aren’t enough to satisfy them, apparently. They’re busy inventing new ones by bonding amino acids and proteins in new combinations to invent matter not found in nature. Some of these substances might eventually be used to create human tissues and durable organs. (“Innovation of the Week,” The Week, 5/30/14, pg. 16 and “Adding to the alphabet of Life,” The Week,, May 23. 14, pg. 17.)
All this wonder and invention makes me nervous. Failed experiments keep popping to mind, like Frankenstein, Daleks, Cybermen and Triffids. Are there no dark corners where a scientist refuses to go?
Recently I read about some curious research coming out of the Netherlands. Scientists there decided to put 12 men though a 10-day training regime that was so grueling the triathlon looked like play in a sandbox. Volunteers were exposed to experiences that would induce hyperventilation because scientists wanted to know how rapid breathing affects the body. In one test, subjects were asked to lie bare-chested in the snow.
One conclusion to arise out of these experiments was that training this arduous should never be done without supervision. The other was that the effects of hyperventilation require more study. “Training the Immune System,” The Week, May 23, 2014, pg. 17.)
Given all that pain with no gain, I’m guessing the 12 men who were a part of the first experiment won’t be a part of the second. That’s my scientific theory, at least.
Courtesy of captainbringdowndailydowne.com)