Tag Archives: future

Erasing the Effects of Nature

From implants to face-lifts to liposuction, millions to people go under the knife to change the way they look. As like this article from the SF Chronicle said, “gossip on awards-show night” went from ” ‘did you see Meg Ryan’s hair?’ ” to ” ‘did you see Meg Ryan’s face?’ ” So many celebrities are choosing plastic surgery as their means of maintaining that youthful look that people find more attractive, and technology is advancing that surgery is looking more natural. But no matter how much better the technology gets, plastic surgery will never be natural.

So where should we draw the line? If it’s possible for technology to make 50-year-olds to look like they’re in their 20’s, should we still allow it? I personally think that it’s up to each individual to choose what they want to do to themselves, but soon it will influence more and more people to follow in their footsteps. Celebrities are the first to try new technology, but “are they rubbing off on the rest of us?” Over time, as more people accept and experiment with plastic surgery, and as permanent alternations to one’s body becomes a part of the normal cosmetic procedure, we might end up living in a very artificial world.

Although that seems unlikely, there is definitely potential for something like that to develop. It reminds me of the book, Uglies, where everyone on their 16th birthday gets a surgical make-over to make them beautiful. It brings many positives, like erasing insecurities about one’s looks and making everyone equal on the outside, it completely goes against what is natural. I don’t think going under the knife is necessarily good or bad. Instead it’s a choice between going with nature and conquering nature.

The Distant Past: A Shroud of Disregard

The Great Wall of China

After reading Lindsay’s “China’s Three Gorges Dam,” I could not refrain myself from writing about one of the most important monuments in China’s history, The Great Wall of China. Because the Great Wall is not nearly as new as the Three Gorges Dam, it poses subtler questions about its effects on nature. It in fact is so old that it seems like a part of nature itself, much like how we consider the Stonehenge to be a part of nature. But in actuality, it is the product of the human hand, literally.

I cannot help to wonder how such a huge structure, over five thousand miles long, would have affected nature and its animals. How many habitats were destroyed with the construction of this unthinkably massive wall? Such questions inundate my mind, for I would never have thought that this revered structure, built to prevent destruction of humanity from war, ironically, could have caused major damage to nature. I am very surprised that I had never thought of this topic before, but then again, the Great Wall successfully shrouded itself with its blanket of grass and trees in order to blend into nature.

I wonder why there is always controversy about recent technological structures that could harm nature such as the Three Gorges Dam but not about things of the past such as the Great Wall. Is destroying nature with human technology a concept strictly limited to the present and the future? Why do we not talk about things of the distant past and their effects? Is it because humans were not harmful before, but are becoming increasingly so as we progress through time? And if this is true, how are we evolving so quickly? What are our outlooks for the future? I don’t know about you, but my mind is sufficiently blown.

How Much is Too Much?

I was actually just reading the article written about mice with human brains before I saw Walter’s post on the same article. As carefully justified in the article, and also mentioned by Walter, this kind of research is purely used for medical purposes, and not anything like attempting to create new species. Being able to “try out both stem cell interventions and other potential cures on living human brain cells without having to use humans in the process” is the big advantage, and it’s a big step towards curing many diseases.

What I read from this article is that any kind of research or experiment is okay as long as it stays in the lab. They did manage to ban mating among the artificial species to try to regulate this branch of research. It seemed that they were saying that if we don’t allow reproduction and don’t release them into the wild, creating a mouse with a human brain is perfectly fine. Right now they are only studying brain development through medium that’s not human. But what will happen once they want to study environmental effects on the brain? Would they have to make a creature with a brain so similar to a human’s that it would react the same way a human would when stimulated by its surroundings? If we created an new species that has almost the exact characteristics as humans, is it still going to be morally right to do so if we promise to keep it in the lab?

All these questions lead to the debate of where to draw the line and how much meddling with nature is too much. We allow the sacrifice of many dispensable lives of mice in order to cure humans of illnesses. In the future, when we advance even further in science and medicine, are we just going to re-convince ourselves that whatever research we do then is completely justified by the benefit is brings?