Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wouldn't Easier DNA Be Great?

DISCLAIMER - I know very little about DNA or DNA testing. I honestly don't have the first clue about the science of it. But no disclaimer is really necessary, because I don't have the first clue about the science of anything and that hasn't stopped me writing about it.

Hey, everybody knows about DNA. We know you can't father a child and get away with it forever. And we know it's tougher to do the crime and escape the time, thanks to DNA. In a remarkable way, it's like you never left the scene! Yet you know you dashed off just seconds later! But some damned thing, a small thing, usually a hair -- which should've stayed securely attached -- inopportunely loosened its grip and fell.

So we have the wayward hair of a criminal. Or in the case of anonymously fathering children, what you needed to leave behind. With the hair, once they have it, they run it through the DNA mill and, years later, it comes back a match. With your ex-girlfriend, unknown as she may be, when she reappears with your child, they match up samples, and suddenly you owe money. In both cases you can end up with visitation rights.

The thing about DNA, though, is it's billed as extremely hard to test. It used to be it took them weeks to test it. Now, probably thanks to miniaturization, much smaller scientists, they're able to get it done overnight, if needed. Maury Povich gets a lot of the credit for the progress, since on TV time is of the essence.

Now I'm wondering what's the holdup on making it instant, like pregnancy tests or microwaving bagels? And with that, making it equally as accessible, so that all of us could do it. Yes, the police and Maury have had DNA testing as their exclusive bailiwick and would be reluctant to give up their advantage, but that's progress. Once upon a time the rest of us couldn't do fingerprinting either, then ink pads started showing up, in office supply stores of all places.

Personally, I like the idea of DNA everywhere. Right here at home -- I live in my grandparents' old house, and they've been dead since the '70s -- I think it'd be cool to test dust and old sticky spots. I haven't touched some of Grandpa's tools in my whole life, so I might find him still lurking in the garage, in that sense. Then there's my own DNA. I have to have a rich presence here. I used to have a full head of hair and now I'm virtually bald. They'll be finding pieces of me for a century!

If we could test our own DNA, even if the police objected at first, think of how we could solve crime that much faster. There's a crime, all of us descend on the scene, we've got about 200 simultaneous investigations going on at once. Then we come together in an auditorium and one by one present our findings to the group. I can't think of any downside, unless, of course, with the mass of people on the scene tainting the original evidence with our own samples, we ended up arresting each other. But that's a risk worth taking. Most crime scenes had unrelated people there before the crime, this just extends it a bit.

Other than that -- which isn't very exciting -- think of the other possibilities. The more people have access to DNA, the more progress we can make in the science. I'd love it, just as an example, if the DNA testing machine could be rigged to develop a photo of the person, then to make a rudimentary video of him, how he would move, etc., then a hologram type of thing, then who knows what! The twin brother I never had?

Or they might come up with a thing like a metal detector. You sweep a room, like at the Playboy mansion, as a random example, run the test, and you'd have the latest thing, a miniaturized orgy right there on your nightstand. You could collect various human scenes, monasteries, mechanics shops, a March Madness game, or the local Goodwill store. Lots of specimens there!

Probably accomplished science fiction authors have already envisioned this much better than I ever could, especially as they would take some time with the idea and not dash it off in a few minutes on a Tuesday morning. That's fine, I can live with it. Although, as revenge for them showing me up, I could see myself "borrowing" their typewriter, taking all the DNA out of it -- the crap under their fingernails in addition to hair -- and creating a race of mutant science fiction writers, mixing their DNA as I would with lesser human types, like accountants, and putting them out of business. Show me up, will ya?

No, seriously, I don't have a devious bone in my body (eventually the DNA will prove it). I would only use my DNA kit -- Petri dish, eyedropper, thermometer, and roboenlarger -- to do good. One thing I'd seriously like to do, if I could find the DNA for it, is bring back milkmen and their cute little trucks. I'm thirsty for some good old fashioned milk. The good stuff!

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