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Perhaps the most famous part of the Sistine Chapel ceiling is called "The Creation of Man," where God and Adam sail through the clouds with arms outstretched, the tips of their index fingers just barely touching.
The first 200 words of this essay...
Perhaps the most famous part of the Sistine Chapel ceiling is called "The Creation of Man," where God and Adam sail through the clouds with arms outstretched, the tips of their index fingers just barely touching. Standing in Rome beneath the ceiling your eye is drawn inexorably to that point of contact, the few square inches of plaster and paint that is Michelangelo's illustration of humanity's most enduring mystery: the transmission of the spark of life.
The British scientists who cloned Dolly, the most famous sheep in the history of the world after all the media coverage last week, also used a spark to jump-start their creation. But lacking the hand of God, they employed an altogether more prosaic jolt of electricity to coax a sheep ovum -- the DNA-containing nucleus of which they had replaced with a mammary gland cell taken from a six-year-old ewe -- to life.
In so doing those scientists set off another spark as well, one that has traveled around the globe setting off fierce debates about the possibilities and pitfalls inherent in this brave new world, a world where it is now suddenly and surprisingly possible for scientists to create
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