• A Brave New World?

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    Brave New World is a novel written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540, the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embodiment of the ideals that form the basis of futurology.

    In our article of the 14th February, “DNA Resequencing: Giving you the body (and mind) you’ve always wanted!”, we speculated upon how our descendants might use the technologies at their disposal to change the human body and mind.

    Three interesting articles, two in today’s Daily Mail and one on the Mother Nature Network website, might give us some clues.

    The article that would draw the attention of most tabloid journalists – which is why it has been reported in the DM – is a story about two young women complaining about the effects of the various “enhancements” of their bodies done with the active encouragement of their mother. Click here for the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2279398/Our-new-bodies-curse-say-girls-mother-spent-20k-look-like-J-Lo.html#ixzz2L3t70mYr

    The one comment we will make upon this is that it illustrates the obvious potential consequences of the technology. Enough said.

    Now to address the two more substantial articles. One of these is also in the DM. Click here for the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2279313/Suffering-bad-pack-painful-wisdom-tooth-Blame-evolution.html#ixzz2L3sswNJp

    This is a report about the physiological problems such as; spondylolysis, spondylolosthesis, herniated discs, spontaneously fractured vertebrae, kyphosis, and scoliosis as well as the painful condition; impacted wisdom teeth. All but this last malady are due it seems from our species evolution from quadruped to biped. In particular , our spines, ankles and feet have some basic design problems. Furthermore, our evolution into large brained successors to the primates has resulted in smaller jaws (than the apes) leading to over crowding of teeth and in particular the so called “wisdom tooth” or third molar.

    In the future it is quite possible that scientists and doctors will seek to redesign the human skeleton in such a manner as to “design out” such problems. Clearly, they are likely to do this in such a way as the external appearance of the human body is left relatively unaltered. Clearly, of two solutions to sorting out the problem of impacted wisdom teeth; that of increasing the jaw size to accommodate the requisite number of teeth or reducing the numbers of those teeth, the latter is going to be the most likely solution chosen.

    Scientists and doctors may well go beyond merely changing the shape and structure of skeletal parts and introduce a more fundamental change; incorporating metal into the human skeleton to better withstand stress and to protect vital organs such as the brain and spinal column from trauma. How could they do this?

    By altering DNA in such a way as to enable the digestive system to break down titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide (TiO2), is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium as well as being a pigment – in paint – (as Titanium White, or Pigment White 6, or CI 77891). It is also used as a food colouring, with the E number E171. It is quite possible that scientists and doctors may well alter the DNA to have a situation where a baby is born with a skeleton constructed out of the materials it is currently constructed from but would as the child and young person grows the body will take the quantities of TiO2 ingested and breaking it down will use the molecular titanium metal to replace outer bone tissue to strengthen the structure. They may also alter such as teeth as well.

    The third article appears on the Mother Nature Network website. Click here for the article: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/stories/scientist-creates-lifelike-cells-out-of-metal
    This a report about a British researcher, Lee Cronin of the University of Glasgow who has created lifelike cells from metal – a feat few believed possible. The discovery opens the door to the possibility that there may be life forms in the universe not based on carbon, reports New Scientist. Even more remarkable, Cronin has hinted that the metal-based cells may be replicating themselves and evolving.

    Clearly, this opens up the possibility of adapting the human body not only to grown bone, tissue and organs but also other parts out of metal. These could be interface devices that are incorporated into the structure of a modified brain. Why would the scientists and doctors alter the body in this way? To allow the human being to connect directly with machines such as computers and communication devices.

    A Brave New World indeed.

    • Good article. I think someone’s overlooked something however. In the future the world is going to be an overcrowded place. Space for things like graveyards is going to be sparse. If people’s skeletons are part titanium they would not fully cremate which either leaves burial or recycling the metallic bits of the dead. Guess that will mean that old Aunt Jane may be end up being a turbine blade!

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