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DNA Testing In Science Fiction


Everybody wants a hero. And TV and film don’t disappoint. As the world gets increasingly unstable with terrorist attacks and global warming, fictional superheroes are stepping up to the mark. And DNA testing, genetics and mutations are all used to explain their existence. The biggest hit to recently arrive on British terrestrial TV is the American series, Heroes.

DNA Testing for Heroic Mutations

The TV series Heroes opened with Mohinder Suresh, a lecturer at Chennai University, explaining to his students that the Human Genome Project is yielding miniscule variations in human DNA. DNA testing reveals that these variations may result in evolutionary qualities, or superhero skills such as levitation and teleportation. The TV show taps into a fruitful history of fiction being inspired by science. Genetics, DNA testing and mutations are all themes in science fiction movies from the X-Men to Spiderman.

DNA Testing and the Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project is the international scientific effort that is working towards creating a complete map of humans’ DNA, identifying the codes within that DNA. It began in 1990 with scientists across the globe working towards unlocking the secrets of human existence. DNA tests and DNA testing are increasingly popular to determine things such as ancestry, paternity and is used extensively in forensic science in the fight against crime. And it’s thought eventually, DNA testing will be used widely in the medical world so faulty genes can be found and prevented – creating a kind of superhuman idea. Tampering with DNA and genetics, some believe, is almost like playing God.

DNA Testing – Genetics and Superhumans

In 2006, it was thought scientists sequenced all genes in the largest human chromosome. It’s no wonder then that science fiction writers are so inspired by the idea of DNA testing, genetics and mutations.

DNA Testing – I Need a Hero

The TV series features heroes with superpowers – the plot revolves around a geneticist who believes the heroes have a shared genetic marker and are mapped and tracked by the human genome project. DNA testing reveals if they are one of these genetic mutations. Already geneticists are complaining about the pseudo-science the TV series uses but most people accept it, as with all fiction featuring superheroes, as simple entertainment – albeit entertainment that taps into very real fears about the threatening world we want to be saved from.

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