Hello, my name is Olga Miroshnychenko. I am a biochemist, protein chemist, and an ordinary science fiction fan. Isaac Asimov’s books I, Robot and The End of Eternity stood on my bookshelves along with the brothers Strugatsky, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Clarke, and other favorite science fiction authors. The distinguished participants who attended today are much more knowledgeable about Dr. Asimov’s books than I am.
However for me Dr. Asimov’s books on science are equally important and engaging. His ability to pierce with his mind into the future, and foresee forthcoming applications of recent discoveries, was enlightening and influential—and perhaps inspired generations of engineers and scientists.
I just received a letter from a friend in Paris, a molecular biologist, whose son enthusiastically reads Asimov; he is going to be an engineer. A letter arrived from my very first professor-supervisor. Normally we’d discuss poetry or dissidents’ literature in the USSR. She turned out to be a fan of Dr. Asimov’s.
Thank you Dr. Asimov for the inspiration and hope for mankind. I wish that scientists and social and political leaders had at least a part of the clarity of mind and wisdom of Dr. Asimov.
I teach biology in City Tech college, and read paragraphs from Asimov’s books to students—because they are so eloquent and persuasive. Please allow me to read a couple of short passages.
That has brought to the point of developing the techniques of genetic engineering. Can’t we look forward to a near future in which we can redesign human genes in such a way that we can arrange for babies to be born without appendixes or wisdom teeth and to develop larger pelvises for their babies, and so on?
Yes, we can, but there are two catches… We have to learn techniques for locating and altering genes, and we have to know exactly which changes in the genes produce which changes in the body. Second, what about the side effects of changes that appear useful?
It will take lots of thought—and lots of hesitation.