Jurassic Park

JOHN OPRANDY Dr.O at ix.netcom.com
Wed Mar 8 09:09:52 EST 1995

In <hynes-0703952041510001 at chevron21.bio.ucalgary.ca> 
hynes at acs.ucalgary.ca (Michael Hynes) writes: 

>In article <3jie1f$4gh at newsbf02.news.aol.com>, stevegou at aol.com (Steve
>Gou) wrote:
>> For a school project I need to find out which parts in the movie or 
>> Jurassic Park are possible in real life.  If anyone has any clues, 
>> e-mail me.  Thanks for the help.
>According to a fellow who was a consultant to Michael Crichton, and who 
>amber at a University in California (unfortunately I can't remember his 
>but he gave a seminar in our department two years ago) very little if 
>anything is possible with current technology.
>The amber used in the movie (Dominican republic) is not old enough for 
>Dinosaurs and the largest piece of DNA so far isolated from such amber 
is about
>1 kb which is insignificant. Sequencing DNA from (putative) dinosaurs 
>take ages even with the best machines currently available; the human 
>project is far from finished and has cost a fortune. each new dinosaur 
>be a whole new project equivalent to the HGP.  And finally the bit 
>filling in DNA with DNA from amphibians is utter nonsense. Life is too
>sophisticated for such facile solutions. 
>The part of the book which annoyed me as a scientist the most was the 
>introduction which suggested that all of us molecular geneticists are 
>receiving large amounts of money from industry (unfortunately not true) 
and b) 
>immoral monsters who will do anything to make a buck (also not even
>remotely true). 
>I could go on and on about other flaws in the book (which was better 
than the 
>movie). Suffice it to say that although very entertaining , they were, 
from the
>point of view of a geneticist, very far from reality.
>Michael Hynes,  Associate Professor

   I would just like to second the above excellent opinion by Dr. Hynes. 
 Not only is JP far from reality by the introduction to the book 
illustrates the harm that a minute bit a somewhat factual information 
can do in the skillful hands of someone with a little technical 
training.  Mike Crichton was trained as an MD (Harvard), but never went 
into practice as far as I know.  His greatest success came as an author 
of books that propose to inform the public of the dangers of genetic 
technology and the malevolence of scientists.  As a scientist, I find 
this offensive and disturbing.  I have met many non-scientists who hold 
a great deal of what is written in these books to be true.  In addition, 
Dr. Crichton implies in his introduction that there are no safeguards on 
research done in academia or industry.  He perhaps forgot about 
regulations and oversight by the FDA, CDC, NIH, USDA (which also bans 
importation of dangerous viruses and bacteria).  
   From the industry point of view, I do not think we would expend a lot 
of money and energy working on projects that would have little return on 
investment, alienate our customers (or kill them) and enjoin us in 
litagation until we were old and grey!  Technology is neither good nor 
evil, it simply is a tool.  Like any tool, you can build with it or 
destroy.  Genetic technologies gives us the only real opportunity to 
diagnose and treat diseases like cancer, AIDS, CF, ADA, and I could go 
on. Hope this helps and was not too much sermonizing. 

J. Oprandy, Ph.D.
Director, DNA Probes Program

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