November 1, 2011

Ideas On Tuesday 36

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: immortality

Current Event:

As you well know by now, cancer became an intimate part of the life of my family in March with my wife’s breast cancer diagnosis.

As a science teacher with a BS in Biology, I read science articles and science books for fun…yeah, I know, total geek, huh? One of the books I haven’t gotten to yet but WILL get to eventually is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. In essence, it is the story of a black woman whose cells were taken (without her knowledge or her family’s knowledge) in the 1950s and are being used for hundreds of cell experiments. These cells have been grown over and over and over – to a point that they have outlived the woman they came from and will likely continue on in some form or another for a long, long time.

So here’s the story seed: after a decades-long court battle, the HeLa Line is legally terminated and scientists have no more line to use; research is terminated and the effects ripple through the scientific world, trickling down into real world medicine. “All is lost!” cries the medical community.

Then a woman steps forward. Decades ago, her great grandmother started a line of cells taken from her son who later signed the rights of his cell line over to his mother who then gave the line to an obscure Christian college in Minnesota. The line has been worked with for some time, though the research is minor. An odd gene combination in the line has remained unstudied since its discovery.

Because it has a history, the new line – from the cells of James Stanton – the JaStan line, becomes the standard cell line used for research. Then someone clones a cell and grows a complete human being…


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