Welcome to the Genomics Forum blog

Based at The University of Edinburgh, the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum is part of the ESRC Genomics Network and pioneers new ways to promote and communicate social research on the contemporary life sciences.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Saying It Out Loud

I've been quiet on the blog front of late...partly being away, but mainly because this has been a record of stuff I've been reading and I've started writing now. In fact, next week I go into rehearsals for Talent Night at The Fly Room...a one off genomic revue we're doing at the Traverse on Thursday March 29th.

The idea is to road test some ideas...see what the response to the material I'm generating is...first by the actors, then an audience. It's essential R and D for the play I'm writing, really.

I'm breaking my blog silence though, because I've been led to read something which I will be using in the script for Talent Night, but which illustrates perhaps my small contribution to the sociological arts embodied by the Genomics Forum.It's what I call the Lasagne test and involves, once again, reading aloud.

Say there is an upcoming publication by researchers from Oxford and New York Universities on a human bio-engineering response to climate change. In the test, the bright young male sociologist takes his wife or girlfriend to a nice Italian restaurant. (I say male because only a male could have had the following idea).

He then reads this aloud to his girlfriend over the pasta course:

"Human ecological footprints are partly correlated with our size. We need a certain amount of food and nutrients to maintain each kilogram of body mass. This means that, other things being equal, the larger one is, the more food and energy one requires. While genetic modifications to control height are likely to be quite complex and beyond our current capacities, it nevertheless seems possible now to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis to select shorter children...what do you think, honey?"

If at this point, if he is picking lasagne out of his hair, which I confidently predict he will be, then it's probably best not to publish.

(Interestingly, the making the population smaller option was also explored in 1962 by Mr Fantastic when he shrank the occupants of Planet X to save them from an asteroid in Fantastic Four 7 - only here the sociological narrative was more thought through.)

Read things aloud, folks...it's a great way to test stuff. See you at the Traverse on March 29th.

Peter Arnott is Resident Playwright at the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Peter will be hosting a number of public engagements as he explores ideas and seeks inspiration for a genomics related play.

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