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Cut & Paste Surgery

In studying the legends of Saint Ingrid's adventures in the Dark Ages around A.D.1000, many have theorized that her miraculous legends may have been based in truth, scientific truth.   Her claims that the miracles her followers saw during her life were actually advanced scientific understanding are unique in mythology.   Let's ask, what would it take for us to duplicate her wonders?   First, painting her servants with a chemical which whips them into a berserk fighting frenzy. This can be accomplished with a few chemicals known to the Western world even at that time.   The second gets tougher: Her servant Geir loses an arm in the fight against the Yeti, so she sews a Yeti arm onto him and he is able to use it with great strength.   This Cut & Paste surgery of course even if it could have been done would be rejected immediately by any human body. However, in modern times, microsurgery to attach only the major blood vessels and major nerves is often sufficient to reattach a woman's foot and a man's phallus, to name a couple modern examples.   Today anti-rejection drugs keeping viable a transplanted member from a person of similar blood and tissue type is common enough. But tissue from a Yeti or real life Ape is not at all viable. However remember that Saint Ingrid, as the story goes, told the man that the Yeti was actually very human, perhaps a townsperson or even kinsman of Geir who, she said, had been horribly disfigured if not mutated by her enemies, the amoral Norns, into a Yeti-looking hulk. Taking this as a given, the anti-rejection drugs of this century are close to making viable that transplant, and soon any transplant to any human being from any other.   Now, worse than that, her other servant, Gisle, whose legs were bitten off by the dragon of the town of Kinloch, poses the next more difficult step in transplants.   The story goes that the aforementioned dragon had (moments earlier) eaten the front half of a work horse, leaving the legs still twitching. Now she did not step up all the way to the transplant capability of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, (which will be discussed in nexr week's class), but the next best thing. Even the fictional Baron Victor Frankenstein did not cross species, but according to her legend, Saint Ingrid did exactly that, sewed the legs of the horse onto Gisle's thighs and applied "unguents and salves" for three weeks and he was, well, not as good as new, but as good as a man with hooves could expect to be.   But how far are we from this capability? This year a scientist from Johns-Hopkins Memorial Hospital published a paper saying that in under a score of years our anti-rejection capability will be able to do exactly that, and now is the time to begin to decide the morality of cross-species implants, from pig's hearts to calf skin.

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