Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making Life

It used to be that the idea of copying people was the stuff of science fiction. But now, cloning is a science.

About 80 years ago, Aldous Huxley wrote a bestseller called Brave New World. In his futuristic novel, everyone on earth is cloned and conditioned to be the same.

At the time Huxley was writing the novel, doctors were only finding out about blood types, vitamins, and drugs like penicillin. Cloning was as impossible as space flight then!

Cloning is a natural phenomenon. Plants like Quaking Asp, Japanese Yellow Rose, and Wisteria reproduce by making exact copies of themselves.

Bacteria, algae, and single-celled organisms such as paramecia and amoebas also reproduce by cloning. Some starfish also have this ability.

Cloning happens naturally when mammals like us give birth to identical twins. However, in this age, artificial cloning is becoming a science.

Farmers clone fruits and vegetables like grapes and potatoes to guarantee top taste and quality. After the scientists in Scotland successfully created Dolly the sheep in 1996, many hope livestock will be cloned soon too.

Others are excited at the thought of cloning endangered species. Although there are clear advantages of cloning, not everyone is happy about this new technology.

Critics warn that playing god has many dangers since we still do not quite understand how nature works.

If cloning becomes as easy as that depicted in Brave New World, would you be in favour of copying sheep, salmon, and may be people?

Dolly the Sheep remains are exhibited at the
Royal Museum of Scotland.

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