Saturday, April 18, 2009

Knowing The Future

I haven't posted anything for a while.
But I have a good excuse: I've been pretty busy pondering the future.
It all started with the analysis of my genome. Last month I volunteered to participate in a program in which I gave a sample of my DNA to an organization that's amassing genomes from a broad group of people. They're comparing them to the diseases that the test subjects already have or will get. They then attempt to correlate specific genes with the probabilities of actually getting those diseases.
The web site describes the program. It's pretty interesting, assuming that you're interested in this sort of thing.
The whole process starts by spitting into a tube and mailing it to their lab. After a few weeks of waiting, the results are available on their web site. You can choose to share it with others. If you'd like to see my genome, just email me and I'll tell you how.
One thing my genome says is that I'm unlikely to be a sprinter. They were right on: I'm definitely not a sprinter.
It also said I probably have blue eyes. My eyes are green, or gray, or some color that's not blue. Well, it's not perfect.
On the more serious topics, like what diseases you'll get, it becomes more complicated. First of all, it's all presented as probabilities, not definite proclamations. So, for example, you may find out that you have a much higher chance of getting cancer than the general population. But then you're faced with the question of what do you do about it. In some cases, you may start to think about preventive surgery to remove the potential site of the cancer. This is pretty scary stuff.
This naturally leads to the question of whether you really want to know what the future holds, especially if it's bleak. Isn't science wonderful?