When lying mortally ill with cancer, the British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane penned the following lines:Cancer's a Funny Thing:
I wish I had the voice of Homer
To sing of rectal carcinoma,
Which kills a lot more chaps, in fact,
Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked...
Haldane knew better than most that many cancers and many other diseases are caused by genetic mutation. Indeed, to understand mutation fully may explain the ravages of illness and even unlock the secrets of ageing. But mutation, so often a destroyer of life, is also its creator. Without it, the variety of living things on Earth simply wouldn’t exist. It is, in the Darwinian view of life, the raw material of evolution.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Science Podcast for the Day