Every now and then I bump into an article on the internet that just begs to be blogged about, and I ran into this one, and apparently many of you did too, because several of you emailed me this one:
Well consider that carefully, through a combination of genetic engineering, physicists working for a hospital in their "spare time" have turned a genetically engineered kidney cell into a pump source through which laser light is beamed. Ok, it's a long way from the X-Men or Superman with mutants being able to shoot laser beams or to see x-rays with their eyes. But it is a harbringer of the future, in that genetic modifications might conceivably be made to eyes to at least see areas of the electromagnetic spectrum currently invisible to human eyes, such as low-frequency infrared or high-frequency ultraviolet, or even x-rays. Certain species of animals already are known to hear beyond the human hearing range, and there are strange rumors of people being able to see things in frequencies others cannot see.
But before the science fiction speculation runs too far amok, we can at least see the practical benefits; the technology could conceivably be perfected to produce a new kind of cancer therapy:
"A living laser could be used to activate cancer-treating drugs using photodynamic therapy. Doctors could inject light-sensitive compounds into a patient’s bloodstream to seek out tumors and diseased cells. Normally, such compounds are activated externally, but if both the drugs and the light itself were internal, treatment would be more precise."
We're dealing with more scientific alchemy for the transformation of mankind here, and that's the real point: as the human imagination knows know bounds in such areas, the real interest is between the curve of technology as it approaches the asymptotic limit of the human imagination itself. Yesterday it was chimerical monkies, the potential of human chimerical embryos, the ensuing ethical and moral questions, and today, it's living cells, genetically modified to act as pump sources for micro- and nano-lasers. And it is important to note we're witnessing yet another phenomenon emerge in this Brave New World, that of the cross-over of disciplines, here,physics and medicine and genetics, a similar phenomenon to the entry of physicists, with all their sophisticated methods of mathematical modeling, into economics. In other words, as the disciplines require increasing specialization and fragmentation, at the same time, a culture is being created where scientists - and indeed all disciplines - are being required to think outside their own boxes and to draw connections and implications to other disciplines. Scientists and theologians alike, take note!