Volume 93, Issue 81

Friday, March 3, 2000


Poll supports fight for student funding

Internet business boom

Opposition surrounds UWOFA part-timers

Province to make no promises on lower gas tax

Church plans to apologize for past

Scientists not just cloning around


Caught on campus

Caught on campus, again

Scientists not just cloning around

By Andy J. Gidwani
Gazette Columnist

We should all be grateful to the world of medical genetics, since without it, society wouldn't be nearly as sophisticated as it is today.

For example, without medical genetics, we wouldn't have DNA technology by which scientists, studying individual molecules of DNA, could make the O.J. Simpson trial last an entire year.

Large leaps of knowledge have been made in the once embryonic study of genetics and genes, answering many of science's initial questions. Genes are the building blocks of life, including plants, mammals, fish, avocados and even politicians. But many questions remain unanswered – how do these genes give life? And how can the avocado, which clearly benefits the earth, be in any way related to the politician?

These are only some of the questions which scientists have attempted to answer. When these answers are found, they may also give us clues as to why scientists spend their entire lives indoors and almost always smell funny.

Right now, the rage in genetics has been surrounded by the concept of cloning. I know this because whenever I talk to scientists they always say, "Have you heard about cloning? It's all the rage in genetics. I don't even mind smelling funny on account of studying it."

You may remember the uproar which occurred in Scotland a couple of years ago, when a sheep was cloned by a local scientist – there was all sorts of talk about the ethics behind manipulating genes. Some people wisely questioned that if the scientist really wanted to make the new technology useful, why couldn't they clone something valuable and in demand – like gasoline?

This Scottish scientist showcased his cloned sheep all over the world. In fact, I think he opened for Aerosmith. Now that it's all over, scientists everywhere are trying to clone anything they can get their hands on. So don't be surprised if you find a scientist in your own neighbourhood, lurking in the shadows with a petri dish in hand.

Cloning animals isn't exactly a new idea. You've probably seen Jurassic Park, a very loud movie predicated on the idea of dinosaurs being cloned. The dinosaurs eventually ran amok, terrorizing islanders and eating rich lawyers in the bathroom. I thought this tended to give dinosaurs an undeservedly bad reputation, since any creature which feasts on rich lawyers is a friend to humans. I don't really remember how the movie ended, but I'd like to think it involved more lawyers.

The bottom line is, science still has a long way to go in the study of genetics, but we're making progress. So if you see a scientist walking around, don't be afraid to give them a pat on the back and congratulate them. And don't mind the smell – they're really close to giving us a cheap alternative to gasoline. Trust me.

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