Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sequencing Chromosome 1 and The Big Blue Marble

The sequence of the last chromosome in the human genome was published today. If there is one thing in this world I am not, it is a human genome expert. But I do try to keep up on science as much as possible, especially the important stuff. From what I read, this is really a milestone on a much longer journey. All the chromosomes in the human genome are now sequenced, but we still don't know what most of the genes do. It is apparent though, that figuring that out will only be a matter of time and patience.

What this will enable us to do sounds both wonderful and scary. Will we be better able to fight and prevent diseases? Likely. What about slowing the aging process? Likely. But I think we've got a lot of other things to figure out before that - like how to manage the resulting surge of population growth when people live longer. We've got room on this big blue marble for quite a few more, but not the way we're doing it now.

The world has to catch up socially and politically to the pace of scientific discovery. This stuff isn't slowing down. I relish the thought of mankind accelerating progress, but progress has to occur on many fronts, not just science. The internet as a social and political network now plays a significant part in that process. If we can better educate the world (myself included) we can take better control of our destiny, and better prepare for it.

I know every generation says this, and it may be true for every other generation as well, but we do live in interesting times.