Sunday, November 28, 2010

Human Cloning ... Yes or No?

Science is a two-edged sword. There’s no question about that. On one hand there’s research on the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s etc. and on the other hand there are activities taking place on poison gas, nuclear weapons and genetic engineering. A Persian poet, Saei, stated that ”One with knowledge has a greater capability to cause harm; just as a thief with a torch will cause a greater damage.” In the modern world, improvement and development of science and technology is accelerating extremely rapidly; but what are the boundaries? What are the limitations?

A keen development of the 20th century is genetic modification. It has grown so much and holds so much potential that a tertiary course by the name of “Genetic Engineering” has been tagged on to it. The means of this branch of science is to alter an individual’s genes to enhance the quality of competency in life. Genetic engineering can be practiced on all living organisms but the main focus of this essay is the different views on human genetic engineering or more specifically, human cloning.

The proponents of human cloning state that cloning is no more un-natural than binary fission, the method in which bacteria reproduce to produce identical copies of themselves; and it is no more un-ethical than giving birth to identical twins. Just as identical twins have exactly the same genome yet may grow up with different personalities; so in cloning where the genes between the original specimen and the cloned specimen are identical, the cloned specimen might have different characteristics due to being produced in a different time period.

The opponents of human cloning state that human genetic engineering is morally, ethically, religiously and practically unsound. They believe that human cloning can lead to the impairing or ruining of one’s individuality, the decrease in the diversity of the human gene pool and the unnatural growth of the world’s population due to the ease of reproduction. Also, many religions object to human cloning, proclaiming that it is “playing God”.

The fact is that, what separates humans from other living organisms is the power to think and the power to decide. For example, when an animal wants to defend itself from a predator, it puffs its hair, creates sound, stomps and shows its claws; never has an animal defended itself using a sword or gun. A human being is always on the verge of experimenting and inventing to make life a more smooth and relaxing ride. This shows that only a human being is capable to decide based upon thinking. Though the power of thinking and decision of a human being is extremely precious and useful, the boundaries which are set by factors such as one’s religion and culture must also be obeyed.

From the Bible’s point of view, human beings are created in the image of God and are unique and individual. Human cloning denies this rule by impairing or destroying this individuality. In addition, if humanity were to be created through cloning, there must be a creator. In the case of human genetic engineering, the creator would be a human being. According to the Bible, God is the only one who rightfully exercises sovereign control over human life. To attempt to control such things is to place oneself in God’s position. Clearly, man is not to do this. Other religions such as Islam also hold a similar opinion towards human cloning.

Imagination sometimes overrules knowledge; this causes a visionary view of the future and often leads to development and improvement. But this factor should never overrule the boundaries and limitations set for a human being.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Giant red-headed Centipede: a crawling dragon

When the words centipede and milipede strike one's ears, the mind's engine will display results of tiny, slow and harmless creatures with many legs. Well, this essay will provide a completely different side to these creatures generally refered to as Myriapoda s.

The Giant red-headed centipede is a subspecies of the Giant desert centipede and is truley giant, reaching lengths of 10 inches, or 25 centimeters. The Giant red headed centipedes are sometimes referred to as "the devil's head"; this is because of the color designition of the different body segments of the centipede. The top few segment are red and the rest are all black. The legs are yellow.

These creatures are mostly found in the USA and Mexico and being moisture dependent, choose moist habitats. Even in deserts they rely on moisture and are found in cracks in woods and beneath rocks near ponds. The females hatch eggs to reproduce and wind themselves around the eggs for prottection.

The dining menu of these predators consists of moths, toads, snakes and other vertebrates. They capture and kill their prey by stunning them and killing them using their poison domes situated in thebasal section of their fangs, also called maxillipeds. The video bellow is a short documentary which also portrays the hunting abilities of a giant red headed centipede.

In the mid 1920s, Dr. Baerg tested the effect of the venom by inducing a centipede to bite one of his little fingers, leaving the fangs inserted for about four seconds. The bite was followed by a sharp and strictly local pain, which began to subside noticeably after about 15 minutes. In about two hours the pain was only very slight, but there was a general swelling in the finger. Three hours after the bite, most symptoms had disappeared. What some do for science ! It has been stated by a famed arthopod scientist, J. L Cloudsely that "centipedes seem to exert a weird fascination on the morbid appetites of the hysterical and insane."

When the animal is irritated, a poison is created at the base of each of its legs and inserted into the source of irritation. The toxins in the venom cause wounds and swelling and if inserted in critical areas of the body, such as the chest, can eventually lead to death.