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The Andromeda Strain: A Critical Analysis.

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Introduction

Jacob Davies 4-25-03 The Andromeda Strain: A Critical Analysis In 1969 Michael Crichton wrote The Andromeda Strain, a book that would forever expand the limits of a science fiction novel. Although written in 1969, it deals with very current issues facing the modern day boilogical and even political realm. Technically a science fiction novel, the meticulously crafted plot is so intertwined with actual science and technology that some have catagorized it as "science fact." It is this realistic overtone that gives the impression that perhaps, someday, events in the book could actually take place. Plot Synopsis The book opens up with a fictional page of acknowledgments stating "This book recounts the five-day history of a major American scientific crisis." From this opening sentence, the author immediately sets the tone as one of historical narration of events that actually took place. It is supposed to be a retelling of a scientific tradgedy with monumental implications. From here, the story the author relates begins. Five years earlier the United States government initiated a program called Project Scoop. The project's purpose was to send unmanned space capsules into the earth's outer atmosphere to collect samples and examine them. The hope was that undiscovered biological agents could be found for potential use as biological weapons of war. ...read more.

Middle

To combat his pain he took a bottle of aspirin a day and drank Sterno, a small stove fuel that contained alcohol and methanol. Both the aspirin and Sterno not only made his ulcers worse, but they also worked to raise the overall acidity of his body to toxic proportions. While Burton continued research on how the microorganism, now code named "Andromeda," was transmitted and caused death, Stone and Leavitt focused on determining the physical nature of the organism. Through complicated testing they determined that it was a unicellular, hexagonal organism with no amino acids or proteins. It converted carbon dioxide and ultraviolet light directly into energy with no excretions of any kind. Several weeks into the their research, rubber gasket seals suddenly began decomposing, seemingly for no reason. One by one, the sealed labs of the fifth level became open to the Andromeda organism. This set off the countdown for the nuclear device in Wildfire to detonate. Knowing that the organism fed off of energy and wasted nothing, they realized that if the bomb was detonated, the organism would convert the energy to mass and grow exponentially large instead of being wiped out by the blast. With little time to spare and to much avail, Hall was able to make it to a substation with his key and stop the blast. ...read more.

Conclusion

Over millions of years man has evolved with the countless number of microorganisms in his body. When you totally obliterate this relationship, you undue the evolutionary work of centuries. The drug basically set the subjects immune system back to square one, before any coeveolution could take place. Crichton also mentions something called "The Messenger Theory", a possible method of interstellar communication. When trying to communicate between two distant galaxies, radio waves are much too slow and fade too quickly. Video signals are even less effective. A method that more intelligent life might employ would be to grow a number of microorganisms that would grow uninhibited in the vastness of space. The alien race would send them out in random directions where they would drift perpetually until finally reaching other life. Once reaching their destination, they would develop into full organ, or organism capable of communication. They would inform the other race of the presence of the other, and possible ways to communicate back. This seemed amusing to the more practical scientists, but it had to be considered a possibility with Andromeda. Overall, "The Andromeda Strain's" extremely technical subject matter made it challenging to read, but informative on a level usually not touched on by other science fiction novels. The plot itself as well as the concepts conveyed in this book make it relevent to the modern biologic world, even over 30 years later. ...read more.

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