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<   No. 1086   2006-01-16   >

Comic #1086

1 Spanners: Okay, we have the skin flakes. Let's load them into the DNA growth simulator to see who we've got.
2 Iki Piki: {watching a simulated image of Paris appear on the monitor} It's Paris! Yay! We should let her know.
2 Spanners: Right.
3 Spanners: {into the communicator panel} Hi Paris. Hello? ... Paris? ... Spanners calling Paris in cyberspace, are you there? We have good news.
4 Serron: She hasn't been answering for the past half hour. Probably sulking.

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Here is some actual hi-tech equipment that we get to see these guys use. If DNA holds all the information you need to make a human (or other life form), then it might be possible to "decode" the DNA sequence and simulate what a person (or other life form) grown from that DNA might look like.

Of course DNA doesn't encode everything about our development. Identical twins have the same DNA, but often grow up to look different enough that people can easily tell them apart. Environmental factors, beginning as early as inside the womb, help mould the growing organism into an expression that depends not only on the DNA, but also on various biochemical influences throughout life. Add to that differences in nutrition, medical history, and physical activity, and predicting what a person looks like from a DNA sample is likely to be imprecise in the extreme.

But none of that matters in a typical science fiction setting.


2015-04-18 Rerun commentary: In case you missed it, there's a "special effect" in panel 2, where we can see Paris displayed on the computer screen.

I have identical twin aunts, but I can't remember any time, even in my very early childhood, where I couldn't instantly tell them apart. My mother tells me they used to play various tricks at school, including attending one another's classes surreptitiously without the teachers figuring it out, but I've never had a problem knowing which is which.

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