Science On Science And The English Language
posted by August 4 at 9:55 PMon
Last week, I found myself writing for the Stranger and my General Exam more or less at the same time; these are orthogonal forms of writing. It caused me to reflect upon science and the English language.
(Committee members, stop reading here.)
The first paragraph of my alternative proposal:
I. As it is now.
With an undisputed ability to differentiate into cells from all three germ lineages, embryonic stem cells may provide a replacement cell source for grafting into weakly regenerating tissues. This broad potency can result in the introduction of inappropriate contaminating cell types—including teratoma-generating undifferentiated cells—during grafting.
I hate this paragraph, and will change it a dozen times before turning in the exam.
II. Short, simple declarative sentences.
Embryonic stem cells become everything. That includes heart or brain cells. Sick people need new heart and brain cells. Great! They also become unwanted cells. We only want the right cells. Grafting undifferentiated cells causes tumors! Bummer.
I would write this in crayon.
III. Passive (more so) and (increasingly) awkward.
Tissues have the potential to fail in regeneration. Formation of cells from multiple lineages, all three germ lineages, can occur during differentiation of embryonic stem cells. There are desired and undesired cell types that can be made to exist. It has been observed that teratomas can form. This event occurs particularly when undifferentiated embryonic stem cells were grafted.
This version is depressingly close to what I actually have in the draft.
The embryonic stem cell desires to become everything; being the total of the body is the central purpose of its existence. Our purposes require the embryonic stem cell to go against its most fundamental nature; we must turn the cell that can become anything into a shadow of itself. Such crimes require powerful tools.
I would love to turn in this version. Alas, I would promptly fail.