Science doesn’t progress smoothly, it makes huge ugly leaps and bounds. But recently a couple of articles really sparked my attention.
The first was that they have managed to create a life form artificially. That is, creating life where previously there was none… not just allowing bacteria to enter a given environment as it naturally does. This is a huge step for us all I think; luckily I am not a religious person because I would hate to have to deal with the personal and community-wide ramifications of that “little feat”, it might just open up a lot of questions for someone that may have previously been content in their views. We are already seeing articles with sensational titles such as “Does God have competition?” springing up all over. But this is not a bad thing, the ability to question something you have been told by people you trust is an admirable skill, whether they turn out to be right or wrong. On the negative side, they are trying to patent it which has the potential to raise a bigger moral question on the world stage.
The other particularly interesting article is about a group of Israeli researchers who have actually managed to store data in a live neuron. You might think of that as “creating memories”, however temporary the result is at present, it appears to me as something straight out of “Total Recall” (“We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” – Philip K. Dick).
Actually I’m a big fan of Philip K. Dick (PKD). If you haven’t read anything by him I’d recommend it, he was a fairly prolific sci-fi writer of the last century. Some films that have been made from his novels and short stories include: Blade Runner, Next, Total Recall and A Scanner Darkly (the last only works in print IMHO). PKD was one of the few people that could really reach out well beyond his generation and treat things like the above cutting edge research as common daily occurences in his mind, an incredible skill considering the level of science and computing back in the 50′s and 60′s where some of his best work was done.
I’ve also gotten into writing fiction recently, just as a creative outlet. No doubt it will not see the light of day for quite some time if at all, but it’s a very enjoyable thing to do. I can thoroughly recommend a program for OS X called Scrivener. It has many features for writing short stories or novels, including storyboarding, character database, fullscreen view and easy ways to group copy and annotate it. There’s also a free gold version available for download.