One of my favorite stories ever is the 2003 science-fiction novel Oryx and Crake, written by Margaret Atwood. The book envisions a world in which genetic engineering has become the dominant industry in the United States, with corporations competing to make the most economically successful transgenic plants, domesticated animals, medicines/beauty products, and even weapons for bio-warfare (Atwood 2003). In some ways, Atwood’s predictions are not too far off.
As we mentioned in class last week, CRISPR is based on the natural immune response that bacterial cells have. Manipulating this system has allowed scientists to edit various genes among all organisms. Here is a quick synopsis of how this process works:
Immediately when I think of nature I think of animals, biology, and rainforests. Humans typically don’t instantly pop into that category for me. However, “nature” can refer to any phenomena of the physical world and life in general. It is interesting to think of humans as part of nature yet human activity is typically not seen as being part of the natural workings of things.
In the age where everyone is used to getting what they want whenever they want, we can’t be surprised that people are choosing to “play God” in different areas of their lives. You can customize your house, car, outfits, hair, and even body. For some people, that’s not quite enough. What if we were able to customize our own baby? You could choose what hair color, eye color, and potentially personality traits. This sounds crazy, right? Impossible. Never can be done in a million years!
Last Friday, May 10th, I took a visit to the UCLA Meteorite Collection on the third floor of the Geology Building. When I walked in, I ran into someone who frequents the collection, and he told me to speak with John Wasson, who heads the exhibit. I went up to his office on the fourth floor, and he was able to give me a wonderful introduction to what I would later see in the exhibit.
Last week we had our in class in the UCLA sculpture garden, discussion nature. Many people described nature as anything that exists in the universe as part of the physical world. In this sense, the idea embraces anything that falls under the study of the natural sciences. However, it got me thinking about the idea of nature and how it is one of the most widely employed ideas in philosophy. Authors such as Aristotle and Descartes relied on the concept of nature to explain fundamental tenets of their views, without ever attempting to define the concepts.
It was really interesting to hear about everyone’s different ideas and associations about nature. I really enjoyed having class outside and our conversation about man’s effect on nature and man’s recreation of nature really got me thinking about national parks. I think they’re an interesting concept because on one hand they exist in order to preserve nature and its beauty; however, on the other hand they are places where people can go to observe nature that is maintained by man.
One of philosophy's most great unanswered questions: what is nature? Nature can have so many definitions, but it really just depends on the perspective of each individual, and the emotions they attach to their surrounding environment. Some may hate it, some may feel inspired by it, some may think of it as something divine, and the list continues.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere of last Thursday’s class. Often we forget to slow down and appreciate the world outside of our immediate lives. In discussing our perceptions of “Nature,” many of my classmates envisioned Nature as serene, pristine, and idyllic. Indeed this image of Nature is pretty popular, and often first attributed to the nineteenth century Romanticism movement.
On Thursday we held class outside and began having a discussion on nature. We went around the classroom and each person said what their own personal definition of nature was. What do you think of when you here the word "Nature"?
It got me thinking about the anthropocentric view we humans have about nature. We think of ourselves as apart from nature: Man-made vs natural.
As humans, we keep developing our society and civilization by building up industries in our already big “metal forests”. Granted that, a considerable amount of people are already figuring out and practicing the better ways to share our space with nature. Some people might argue that the roof covered with plants, the canyons with fences, the coral reef gardens, etc., are just not “nature” enough.
Edward Burtynsky. The Anthropocene.
Last Thursday, we conducted our Honors Biotechnology and Art class outside in the sculpture garden in UCLA’s north campus. I truly enjoyed being outdoors surrounded by plants and animals instead of being in our dark, gray classroom. Even though we weren’t surrounded by “true” nature, it was still somewhat nature in my opinion- plants growing around us, birds flying in the sky, and squirrels running up and down the trees.
I really enjoyed having class outside this past week. The setting was especially fitting because we discussed the idea of nature. Previously, I had not thought deeply about the concepts of nature and of the natural. I was surprised to discover that even though we, as a society, tend to view natural things to be better, many of us do not realize how little we interact with nature. Sitting in the Sculpture Garden our class was surrounded by trees, grass, and shrubs, but these plants are not nature.