Tuesday, April 14, 2009

News Talk Online April 14, 2009: Ben Bova

What if, instead of being transplanted, desperately needed hearts, livers, and kidneys could simply be re-grown within your own body?

Imagine a genetic technology involving stem cells that allows the body to regenerate injured or diseased organs—life as we know it would be utterly changed. Devastating diseases and conditions would no longer mean a death sentence, and life expectancy could reach unheard of highs. But what about the moral, legal, and ethical implications such a technology entails? Will it be available to everyone, or only the very rich? By using it, are we playing “God?

The debate over
stem cell research and its funding is, periodically, prominent in the news. It's become both a scientific and religious argument.

Legendary author and science expert Ben Bova has captured the essence of that debate in his latest novel, The Immorality Factor, which hits bookstores today.

Bova, best known for his science fiction writing, captures a more contemporary theme in this book. And uses the novel to push forth arguments from both sides of the debate.

Bova says he penned the book, in part, because,
even in this age of striking scientific advances and ever-accelerating technological breakthroughs, there are remarkably few engaging novels about scientists.He believes that scientific research is the most human thing that humans do.

“The drive to understand the world in which we live, and to change it to better suit our needs, is uniquely human," he says.

"Yet there are dark forces of fear and ignorance that oppose this search for understanding. Such conflict offers the novelist a truly fascinating setting for examining the human experience.”

By combining a real-life hot-button science issue and the ethical dilemmas that surround it with a top-notch storyline that pits two brothers - one a brilliant research scientist, the other a physician renowned for his humanitarian efforts - against each other.

A six-time winner of science fiction’s Hugo Award, the former editorial director of Omni, President Emeritus of the National Space Society, and past president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Bova is the author of 120 novels and nonfiction books.

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