01 Aug 2009

Essays on Jurassic Park

Man’s fascination with restoring ancient creatures using genetic technology is a relatively recent development, yet has made its way into classical literature and sparking a series of movies.  Jurassic Park, written by Michael Crichton, explores not only the potential benefits of this idea, but also gives fair warning of what can go wrong, should we become arrogant in our efforts.

In Jurassic Park, strange three toed lizards are reported on the coast of Costa Rica after they attack a group of children.  A lab technician at Columbia University, believing that the carcass of lizards to be that of a dinosaur, sends a fax of the lizard’s skeleton to a well known paleontologist, Dr. Alan Grant.  Grant figures out that it is a dinosaur skeleton but before he can do any more research on the subject is sent an invite from a rich man named John Hammond.  Hammond wishes to open a park of dinosaurs and invites Dr. Grant and a few others including a mathematician Ian Malcom to come to the park to determine if the park is safe for visitors.

While on a tour of the park the electricity goes out, sabotaged by a park worker turning off the security system to steal dinosaur embryos for a competing company.  The thief is killed by escaped dinosaurs on his way to the boat to give another company the embryos.  This leaves rebooting the island’s computer system to the others, a task complicated by the escaped dinosaurs.

Grant, Malcom, Hammond’s grandchildren, and others are therefore stuck in front of the T-Rex cage with no electricity to the security fence.  They are attacked and Malcom is seriously injured.  They escape to the visitors lodge where they figure out they have to get the island running again.  Grant goes off to get the electricity turned back on while the kids are attacked but end up safe by trapping the attacking dinosaur in the freezer. The survivors escape but as they are waiting for release, Grant is told about giant lizards that were reportedly seen fleeing into the jungles of Costa Rica.

The dynamic variety of characters in Jurassic Park alone gives many opportunities for essays.  Not to mention possible essays on the differences between the original novel and the screenplay (movie).  This novel could also be useful as an essay source for genetic engineering classes and even ethics classes.

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12 Oct 2008

Essays on Genetic Engineering

Mankind’s concern with the identification and use of plants and animals is as old as civilization.  From the hunter/gatherers who selected the seeds of plants they knew provided sustenance for deliberate planting and cultivation to the breeding of cattle and other animals, mankind has been driven by a deep desire to understand and to control the world around him.  Over the millennia, this desire has given birth to the science we now know as genetic engineering.

The concept of genetic engineering has been around for many centuries.  Early genetic engineering took form in the selective breeding of dogs and horses, attempting to combine specific desired traits to create hybrid offspring that would possess those traits.  This is, in fact, the source of many “show dog and horse” breeds.  So successful was this form of genetic engineering that some believed genetic engineering could be used with human breeding.  This controversial philosophy and pseudo-science came to be known as eugenics and was, in part, the basis of Nazi beliefs in their alleged supremacy over others.

As the basis of genetic engineering became known over time, mankind began trying to find ways to manipulate the genetic structure of everything from field mice and flowers up to and including man himself.  Through occasional strokes of luck, many new species were developed, but each was in the same genetic family as the source material the scientists started with.

In the United States, the American courts have ruled that species created by genetic engineering are a form of intellectual creation, subject to patentability, though many in the scientific community decry the decision as inhibitive to continued academic and scientific development.  Coupled with the completion of the Human Genome Project in which the human genetic structure was mapped in detail, this court precedence has lead to deep concerns over human genetic engineering experiments, to the point that many jurisdictions worldwide have banned even the concept or anything related to it being pursued.

Another concern about genetic engineering has arisen in the field of agricultural engineering.  Over the years, many new species of food crops have been developed, some for disease resistance, others for flavor or uniform size (the last makes packaging of the produce easier).  A more disturbing development of genetic engineering has been the recent creation of “terminator” species.  These are genetically modified crops that cannot perpetuate through seeding, leading to an outcry from the farming community that such crops threaten their livelihood by not allowing them to save seed from one season to be used for the next planting season and could lead to crossbreeding contamination, potentially devastating crop yields worldwide as the terminator gene spreads indiscriminately.

Genetic engineering is a field with many potential applications and significant risk.  As such, there are many openings for essay topics and angles, both for the potential good that can come from genetic engineering and for the potential threat the science possess on the future of life on Earth.

  • Many scientists argue that genetic engineering could one day produce human clones whose body parts may be used as transplants if something should happen to the man or woman the materials came from.  Others argue that this is nothing less than playing God and committing murder.  What are the arguments presented on each side and is there a middle ground our society might be able to achieve on this issue?
  • In Europe, farmers have sworn to shut down their farms, rather than use terminator-modified seeds offered at below market rates by the developing companies.  What are some of the dangers and benefits to using such seeds and are the farmers over reacting or simply trying to keep our society safe from the threat posed by this genetic engineering?

Genetic engineering is a highly controversial science with activists up in arms on both sides of the table.  Since nature tends to act in unexpected ways outside the laboratory, it is important that scientists proceed with caution.

Students attempting to write about genetic engineering should be equally cautious as our understanding of genetic engineering is changing rapidly.  Even professional researchers and writers such as ourselves have a tough time keeping up in this ever-morphing field of human knowledge and activities.

Contact us today with your writing assignment and let one of our professional researchers and writers assist with its completion.

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