It is quite astounding to think about how everything began, or why it is the way that it is. Each and everyone one of us began our journey as one single embryo created by our parents. From those few cells, we begin to grow and mature into a whole different individual, and eventually become sustainable on our own.
The countless processes which we undergo as we transfer from that one cell to an entire being composed of billions of cells are through a very important process called mitosis. Mitosis is a process named and discovered by Walther Flemming in the 1800s, which allows cells to divide into two identical cells. It is a fact that nothing can live forever, and the same applies to cells. As a cell becomes larger, soon its surface area to volume ratio decreases too fast for the cell to absorb nutrients thoroughly, and so it is left with the option to die or to divide.
During mitosis, the cell undergoes 6 main phases; interphase, prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Interphase is the regular activity of the cell, and when organelles are replicated. In prophase, the chromosomes condense, and each chromosome is made up of two sister chromatids. Prometaphase is when the nuclear envelope breaks down completely and the spindle fibres having attached to the centromeres and the centrosomes have reached the poles of the cell. When the chromosomes have all aligned at the center of the cell, it is then at the metaphase stage. During anaphase the spindle fibres pull the chromosomes to opposite ends of the cell. Finally, in telophase the membrane begins to pinch in and the actin filaments separate the cytoplasm. Each minute, cells are constantly undergoing mitosis, and dividing into two new diploid cells.
Yet as we speak, scientists are constantly working on new forms of technology of improving and introduce new ideas into our lives. Centuries ago, it would have been crazy to think that other ways of life can be produced other than by sexual reproduction, but now as we look at our technology, it is understood that there is a vast, unexplored side to science that will always drive the curiosity of humans. In recent years, new ideas such as cloning, DNA alterations, and other genetic engineering methods have been introduced and explained to the public.
In 1996, scientists finally succeeded in understanding artificial cloning, and Dr. Ian Wilmut successfully cloned the first ever mammal, a sheep named Dolly. Cloning is a complicated process, but in the end produces an exact replica of the original organism cloned. Dolly was the product of 3 parents, and is genetically identical to the DNA donor, an adult Finn Dorsett ewe. Cloning involves a somatic cell donated from one sheep, with the nucleus removed. Nucleus from another sheep is then inserted into the egg cell and fused together, and fertilized. Finally as the egg cell divides into an embryo, it is then inserted into a third sheep, where the normal birthing process takes place. The newborn lamb Dolly is genetically identical to the adult Finn Dorsett ewe of the nucleus donor, which would not have been dreamed of being possible decades ago. Even Dr. Ian Wilmut himself had doubts of the experiment, and was amazed to see that the experiment had succeeded.
By discovering cloning, we have taken a huge leap forward in technology and to improving our lives. It also opens a wide doorway to immense possibilities to what human beings can achieve. But along with new discoveries, there will always be debated issues on the morality of doing so. People argue whether or not it is right to “play God” in situations like these where genetic structures are altered and life is created through a complicated and unnatural process in petri dishes. But whether or not these new technologies are allowing us to improve our lives, or if it is ethically wrong to create altered organisms, is another story for another time.