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sci230r6_week1_reading1 - c01.qxd 9:19 AM Page 1 1 Biology...

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1 Biology: What Is the Study of Life? Next to music and art, science is the greatest, most beautiful, and most enlightening achievement of the human spirit. —Karl Popper, 1968 Chapter opening drawing Someday we may live on the moon. Vignette 1—April 26, 2011 Schafer wasn’t surprised at his doctor’s diagnosis. Diabetes was part of his family. His grandfather’s heroic fight with the disease—amputation of both legs; eventual blindness—was the stuff of family legend. At every family gathering, parts of the legend were sure to be told with more or less embellishment. There were other family victims, too. Now, it was Schafer’s turn. “Any questions?” the doctor asked. He hadn’t any, really. He had studied diabetes all his life. He had done his first 1
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2 C HAPTER 1 Biology: What Is the Study of Life? report on the subject in seventh grade. He pretty well knew what the disease was, what it affected, and how it was treated. “No, I guess not,” he answered. “What’s next?” “Well, your treatment will involve three trips to the clinic. At your first, which we’ll try to schedule early next week, we’ll remove about a needle full of marrow cells from your thigh bone. These will be sent to our laboratory where they will be reengineered, genetically. The cells will be given the genes they need not only to synthesize insulin, but to monitor blood sugar levels and release insulin as needed. The laboratory will culture those cells. They will be grown until there is about a pint of them. “On your second trip, we will replace most of the marrow from one thigh bone with your genetically modified cells. That treatment could take two or three hours; it’ll be your longest. “Your last trip will be only for a blood sample to be sure you are in fact getting your insulin. That should be all there is to it.” Pretty much what he expected. “And this will be a cure, right?” “There’s about a 3% chance we’ll have to repeat the procedure in 30 years. Otherwise, we’re 99.9% sure you’ll be cured of diabetes for life.” “Well, let’s do it.” “Good. Stop by the nurse’s station and make your appointments. See you next week.” As he walked the long hall to the nurse’s station, Schafer thought, “My bout with diabetes won’t make much of a family legend.” He smiled. Vignette 2—November 7, 2021 “Wow,” Dani thought, “I want to do this!” She downloaded the application form from her TV and began to fill it out. She was about to become part of the biggest and most ambitious experiment in the history of science. Global warming
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1 Biology: What Is the Study of Life? 3 was affecting world climates and human affairs. Increased instances of violent storms, unpredictable drought–flood cycles, and noticeable rises in sea levels were occurring everywhere.
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