Physics of the Future: Genetic Engineering

What I’ve learned from reading Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku:

Our genetic scientists now have the ability to map our individual human genomes. In just a few years it will be affordable for anyone to get their own genome to look for any genetic diseases and anomalies. You will be able to trace your ancestry by looking at a map. Eventually, we may be able to fix the problem genes and erase genetic diseases and problems forever.

Of course, messing around with genes is very controversial. Some current issues with this are cloning, and stem cells. In the future we could give our children “designer genes” to make them smarter and stronger, faster and better. Without limitations, messing around with genes could result in people with wings, tails, horns, or other freakish fantasy-creature mutations. People who fancy themselves as vampires could really engineer some vampiric fangs and strength.

Nature has taken millions of years to make us the way we are, and sure there’ve been some “mistakes,” like Huntington’s, which runs in parts of my family, but Kaku warns that messing around in genetics might have unforseen consequences. Like if we give ourselves a perfect memory we may be too hung up on every little thing that’s gone wrong in the past to function in the present. Maybe we forget things for a reason.

Kaku cautions that there should be limits on genetic engineering, and though giving myself a pair of wings sounds pretty cool, I have to agree.

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