|THE LIVING CELL|
A look at the world of the cell
with Boyce Rensberger
May 16, 1997
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in this forum:
Are cancer cells "anarchists" in the body "republic?" Will human organs ever be genetically engineered? What makes humans different from chimpanzees? Will cloning lead to the lose of human individuality? Why hasn't the abortion debate included new information on how human life develops? Where will the most exciting advances in biology come from in the next century?
David Gergen discusses the cellular world with Boyce Rensberger, author of "Life Itself: Exploring The Realm of the Living Cell."
April 24, 1997:
Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks with the doctor who helped a 63-year-old woman become a mother.
March 5, 1997:
The annoucement of Dolly, the cloned sheep, was stunning, but what does cloning mean for society?
February 24, 1997:
Analysis of the revelation that Scottish scientists had cloned a sheep.
January 1, 1997:
Paul Solman reviews the year in genetics.
Browse the NewsHour's index of science coverage.
The Online NewsHour's editors ask:
Recent advances in cloning have raised fears that humans will lose their individuality. Are these fears justified? Could an individual be seen as simply a sum of his or her parts?
Boyce Rensberger responds:
Cloning can't have any effect on individuality. Clone yourself and the result would not be a new "you" but a twin sibling still in the infant stage. After all, identical twins are genuine clones of one another, but we regard each sibling as a genuine individual. Their similarities (they are not identical in all things) are usually the result of sharing both genes and environment.
A clone of an adult would be gestated in a different womb (which can provide better or poorer nutrients) and raised in a very different home and world.
Remember, as I point out in the book, genes don't do anything by themselves. They must be activated by signals (usually chemical) from the environment around them--including signals from the world at large. So the timing and intensity of gene activation will be different in the clone, producing some differences in the body and, probably, large differences in personality and thinking ability.
We are the sum of our genes PLUS our environment. It is not either/or; both are essential for the process to work.
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