I have cancer. Some of you do too. It's an ugly disease which strikes then hides then strikes again at will. While it is in its hiding stage, you have time to reflect on what the future holds for treatment. For this and other diseases which have plagued the planet since the first oozing signs of primeval life.
While the Hubble in the sky and the Hadron in Geneva look out into the cosmos for answers, biologists are now looking inward to our own bodies. Deep inside and down into the primers of life itself: stem cells. Despite the many ethical debates raging around their use, some researchers are skirting the moral issue by focusing strictly on the medical issue. How can we use our body's own stem cells to cure itself.
Currently researchers at Johns Hopkins are taking stem cells, activating them in a controlled lab setting, then injecting them with selected medications to see how they react. In this way physicians can freely experiment with various medications to see how the lab organ responds. No more risky hit-and-miss drug treatments on you; now it's on your isolated stem cells.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it's not true yet, but like all science, behold humanity at its most dedicated and creative! Given enough time and talent, these experiments may become everyday reality. Very much like the new 'A Little History Of Science' by William Bynum demonstrates as it tells a breathless sweep of the story behind the great accomplishments of our greatest scientists.
We love our scientists. At the same time we fear our scientists. Behind every tale of the heroic scientist is the tale of the mad scientist. At different times, both are true. Not being a scientist, patients like me can only watch and wonder. What I most wonder is how brilliantly they find answers. What I wonder next may seem out of place...
...but I can't help also wondering why so many scientific practioners don't smile much. Are they so seriously entranced with their own formulas that they occasionally miss the magic? No, not the magic of pure mathematics behind so many of their formulas, but rather the magic of the mystery? The mystery behind their work that somehow remains mysterious even beyond their own best work?
There is a mystery to the cosmos that is likely to defy even our best experimentation. The mystery of how, when, where and especially why the cosmos? Why science? Why cancer? Why us? Oh, and why we can't help asking why?
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