Title: Jurassic Park.
Author: Michael Crichton.
Genre: Fiction, science fiction, genetics.
Publication Date: 1990.
Summary: An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now, one of mankind's most thrilling fantasies has come true. Creatures extinct for eons now roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery. Before opening his park to the public, billionaire John Hammond allows a scouting party to visit - a paleontologist, his paleobotanist graduate student, a famous mathematician and chaos theorist, a lawyer, and his grandchildren. It's the trip of a lifetime... until something goes wrong.
My rating: 7.5/10.
♥ Such a new and distinctive pattern led Guitierrez to suspect the presence of a previously unknown species of lizard. This was particularly likely to happen in Costa Rica. Only seventy-five miles wide at its narrowest point, the country was smaller than the state of Maine. Yet, within its limited space, Costa Rica had a remarkable diversity of biological habitats: seacoasts on both the Atlantic and the Pacific; four separate mountain ranges, including twelve-thousand-foot peaks and active volcanoes; rain forests, cloud forests, temperate zones, swampy marshes, and arid deserts. Such ecological diversity sustained an astonishing diversity of plant and animal life. Costa Rica had three times as many species of birds as all of North America. More than a thousand species of orchids. More than five thousand species of insects.
♥ He was crouched on an eroded hillside in the badlands outside Snakewater, Montana. Beneath the great blue bowl of sky, blunted hills, exposed outcroppings, of crumbling limestone, stretched for miles in every direction. There is not a tree, or a bush. Nothing but barren rock, hot sun, and whining wind.
Visitors found the badlands depressingly bleak, but when Grant looked at this landscape, he saw something else entirely. This barren land was what remained of another, very different world, which had vanished eighty million years ago. In his mind's eye, Grant saw himself back in the warm, swampy bayou that formed the shoreline of a great inland sea. This inland sea was a thousand miles wide, extending all the way from the newly upthrust Rocky Mountains to the sharp, craggy peaks of the Appalachians. All of the American West was under water.
At that time, there were thin clouds in the sky overhead, darkened by the smoke of nearby volcanoes. The atmosphere was denser, richer in carbon dioxide. Plants grew rapidly along the shoreline. There were no fish in these waters, but there were clams and snails. Pterosaurs swooped down to scoop algae from the surface. A few carnivorous dinosaurs prowled the swampy shores of the lake, moving among the palm trees. And offshore was a small island, about two acres in size. Ringed with dense vegetation, this island formed a protected sanctuary where herds of herbivorous duckbilled dinosaurs laid their eggs in communal nests, and raised their squeaking young.
Over the millions of years that followed, the pale green alkaline lake grew shallower, and finally vanished. The exposed land buckled and cracked under the heat. And the offshore island with its dinosaur eggs became the eroded hillside in northern Montana which Alan Grant was now excavating.
♥ Grant was a professor of paleontology at the University of Denver, and one of the foremost researchers in his field, but he had never been comfortable with social niceties. He saw himself as an outdoor man, and he knew that all the important work in paleontology was done outdoors, with your hands. Grand had little patience for the academics, for the museum curators, for what he called Teacup Dinosaur Hunters. And he took some pains to distance himself in dress and behavior from the Teacup Dinosaur Hunters, even delivering his lectures in jeans and sneakers.
♥ They expected predators to be rare, of course. Studies of predator/prey populations in the game parks of Africa and India suggested that, roughly speaking, there was one predatory carnivore for every four hundred herbivores. That means a herd of ten thousand buckbills would support only twenty-five tyrannosaurs.
♥ The coelacanth was a five-foot long fish thought to have died out sixty-five million years ago, until a specimen was pulled from the ocean in 1938. But there were other examples. The Australian mountain pygmy possum was known only from fossils until a live one was found in a garbage can in Melbourne. And a ten-thousand-year-old fossil fruit bat from New Guinea was described by a zoologist who not long afterward received a living specimen in the mail.
♥ Grant knew that people could not imagine geological time. Human life was lived on another scale of time entirely. An apple turned brown in a few minutes. Silverware turned black in a few days. A compost heap decayed in a season. A child grew up in a decade. None of these everyday human experiences prepared people to be able to imagine the meaning of eighty million years—the length of time that had passed since this little animal had died.
In the classroom, Grant had tried different comparisons. If you imagined the human lifespan of sixty years was compressed to a day, then eighty million years would still be 3,652 years—older than the pyramids. The velociraptor had been dead a long time.
♥ They knew so little about dinosaurs, Grant thought. After 150 years of research and excavation all around the world, they still knew almost nothing about what the dinosaurs had really been like.
♥ Ian Malcolm was one of the most famous of the new generation of mathematicians who were openly interested in "how the real world works." These scholars broke with the cloistered tradition of mathematics in several important ways. For one thing, they used computers constantly, a practice traditional mathematicians frowned on. For another, they worked almost exclusively with nonlinear equations, in the emerging field called chaos theory. For a third, they appeared to care that their mathematics described something that actually existed in the real world. And finally, as if to emphasize their emergence from academia into the world, they dressed and spoke with what one senior mathematician called "a deplorable excess of personality." In fact, they often behaved like rock stars.
♥ "..In any case, I wear only two colors, black and gray. ..These colors are appropriate for any occasion," Malcolm continued, "and they go well together, should I mistakenly put on a pair of gray socks with my black trousers."
"But don't you find it boring to wear only two colors?"
"Not at all. I find it liberating. I believe my life has value, and I don't want to waste it thinking about clothing," Malcolm said. "I don't want to think about what I will wear in the morning. Truly, can you imagine anything more boring than fashion? Professional sports, perhaps. Grown men swatting little balls, while the rest of the world pays money to applaud. But, on the whole, I find it even more tedious than sports."
♥ "..We live in a world of frightful given. It is given that you will behave like this, given that you will care about that. No one thinks about the givens. Isn't it amazing? In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought."
♥ "All right," Malcolm said. "Let's go back to the beginning." He paused, staring at the ceiling. "Physics has had great success at describing certain kinds of behavior: planets in orbit, spacecraft going to the moon, pendulums and springs and rolling balls, that sort of thing. The regular movement of objects. These are described by what are called linear equations, and mathematicians can solve those equations easily. We've been doing it for hundreds of years. ..But there is another kind of behavior, which physics handles badly. For example, anything to do with turbulence. Water coming out of a spout. Air moving over an airplane wing. Weather. Blood flowing through the heart. Turbulent events are described by nonlinear equations. They're hard to solve—in fact, they're usually impossible to solve. So physics has never understood this whole class of events. Until about ten years ago. The new theory that describes them is called chaos theory.
"Chaos theory originally grew out of attempts to make computer models of weather in the 1960s. Weather is a big complicated system, namely the earth's atmosphere as it interacts with the land and the sun. The behavior of this big complicated system always defied understanding. So naturally we couldn't predict weather. But what the early researchers learned from computer models was that, even if you could understand it, you still couldn't predict it. Weather prediction is absolutely impossible. The reason is that the behavior of the system is sensitively dependent of initial conditions. ..If I use a cannon to fire a shell of a certain weight, at a certain speed, and a certain angle of inclination—and if I then fire a second shell with almost the same weight, speed, and angle—what will happen?"
"The two shells will land at almost the same spot."
"Right," Malcolm said. "That's linear dynamics. ..But if I have a weather system that I start up with a certain temperature and a certain wind speed and a certain humidity—and if I then repeat it with almost the same temperature, wind, and humidity—the second system will not behave almost the same. It'll wander off and rapidly will become very different from the first. Thunderstorms instead of sunshine. That's nonlinear dynamics. They are sensitive to initial conditions: tiny differences become amplified. ..The shorthand is the 'butterfly effect.' A butterfly flaps its wings in Peking, and weather in New York is different."
"So chaos is all just random and unpredictable?" Gennaro said. "Is that it?"
"No," Malcolm said. "We actually find hidden regularities within the complex variety of a system's behavior. That's why chaos has now become a very broad theory that's used to study everything from the stock market, to rioting crowds, to brain waves during epilepsy. Any sort of complex system where there is confusion and unpredictability. We can find an underlying order. Okay?"
"Okay," Gennaro said. "But what is this underlying order."
"It's essentially characterized by the movement of the system within phase space," Malcolm said. .."Chaos theory says two things. First, that complex systems like weather have ah underlying order. Second, the reverse of that—that simple systems can produce complex behavior. For example, pool balls. You hit a pool ball, and it starts to carom off the sides of the table. In theory, that's a fairly simple system, almost a Newtonian system. Since you can know the force imparted to the ball, and the mass of the ball, and you can calculate the angles at which it will strike the walls, you can predict the future behavior of the ball. In theory, you could predict the behavior of the ball far into the future, as it keeps bouncing from side to side. You could predict where it will end up three hours from now, in theory. ..But in fact," Malcolm said, "it turns out you can't predict more than a few seconds into the future. Because almost immediately very small effects—imperfections in the surface of the ball, tiny indentations in the wood of the table—start to make a difference. And it doesn't take long before they overpower your careful calculations. So it turns out that this simple system of a pool ball on a table has unpredictable behavior. ..And Hammond's project," Malcolm said, "is another apparently simple system—animals within a zoo environment—that will eventually show unpredictable behavior."
"You know this because of..."
"Theory," Malcolm said.
"But hadn't you better see the island, to see what he's actually done?"
"No. That is quite unnecessary. The details don't matter. Theory tells me that the island will quickly proceed to behave in unpredictable fashion."
"And you're confident of your theory."
"Oh, yes," Malcolm said. "Totally confident." He sat back in the chair. "There is a problem with that island. It is an accident waiting to happen."
♥ "It's been discussed, in the field. Many people imagined it was coming. But not so soon."
"Story of our species," Malcolm said, laughing. "Everybody knows it's coming, but not so soon."
♥ But whoever had decided to place this particular fern at poolside obviously didn't know that the spores of veriformans contained a deadly beta-carboline alkaloid. Even touching the attractive green fronds could make you sick, and if a child were to take a mouthful, he would almost certainly die—the toxin was fifty times more poisonous than oleander.
People were so naïve about plants, Ellie thought. They just chose plants for appearance, as they would choose a picture for the wall. It never occurred to them that plants were actually living things, busily performing all the living functions of respiration, ingestion, excretion, reproduction—and defense.
But Ellie knew that, in the earth's history, plants had evolved as competitively as animals, and in some ways more fiercely. The poison in Serenna veriformans was a minor example of the elaborate chemical arsenal of weapons that plants had evolved. There were terpenes, which plants spread to poison the spoil around them and inhibit competitors; alkaloids, which made them unpalatable to insects and predators (and children); and pheromones, used for communication. When a Douglas fir tree was attacked by beetles, it produced an anti-feedant chemical—and so did the Douglas firs in distant parts of the forest. It happened in response to a warning alleochemnical secreted by the trees that were under the attack.
People who imagined that life on earth consisted of animals moving against a green background seriously misunderstood what they were seeing. That green background was busily alive. Plants grew, moved, twisted, and turned, fighting for the sun; and they interacted continuously with animals—discouraging some with bark and thorns; poisoning others; and feeding still others to advance their own reproduction, to spread their pollen and seeds. It was a complex, dynamic process which she never ceased to find fascinating. And which she knew most people simply didn't understand.
But if planting deadly ferns at poolside was any indication, then it was clear that the designers of Jurassic Park had not been as careful as they should have been.
♥ "I'm sorry," Malcolm said, "but the point remains. What we call 'nature' is in fact a complex system of far greater subtlety than we are willing to accept. We make a simplified image of nature and then we botch it up. I'm no environmentalist, but you have to understand what you don't understand. How many times must the point be made? How many times must we see the evidence? We build the Aswan Dam and claim it is going to revitalize the country. Instead, it destroys the fertile Nile Delta, produces parasitic infestation, and wrecks the Egyptian economy."
♥ "..But, to answer your question, the reason we know all the animals are female is that we literally make them that way: we control their chromosomes, and we control the intra-egg developmental environment. From a bioengineering standpoint, females are easier to breed. You probably know that all vertebrate embryos are inherently female. We all start life as females. It takes some kind of added effect—to transform the growing embryo into a male. But, left to its own devices, the embryo will naturally become female. So our animals are all female. We tend to refer to some of therm as male—such as the Tyrannosaurus rex; we all call it a 'him'—but in fact, they're all female."
♥ "Look, we're not fools. We understand these are prehistoric animals. They are part of a vanished ecology—a complex web of life that became extinct millions of years ago. They might have no predator in the contemporary world, no checks on their growth. We don't want them to survive in the wild. So I've made them lysine dependent. I inserted a gene that makes a single faulty enzyme in protein metabolism. As a result, the animals cannot manufacture the amino acid lysine. They must ingest it from the outside. Unless they get a rich dietary source of exogenous lysine—supplied by us, in tablet form—they'll go into a coma within twelve hours and expire. These animals are genetically engineered to be unable to survive in the real world. They can only live here in Jurassic Park. They are not free at all. They are essentially our prisoners."
♥ Grant liked kids—it was impossible not to like any group so openly enthusiastic about dinosaurs. Grant used to watch kids in museums as they stared open-mouthed at the big skeletons rising above them. He wondered what their fascination really represented. He finally decided that children liked dinosaurs because these giant creatures personified the uncontrollable force of looming authority. They were symbolic parents. Fascinating and frightening, like parents. And kids loved them, as they loved their parents.
Grant also suspected that was why even young children learned the names of dinosaurs. It never failed to amaze him when a three-year-old shrieked: "Stegosaurus!" Saying these complicated names was a way of exerting power over the giants, a way of being in control.
♥ Grant felt a chill and thought, He's hunting us.
For a mammal like man, there was something indescribably alien about the way reptiles hunted their prey. No wonder men hated reptiles. The stillness, the coldness, the pace was all wrong. To be among alligators or other large reptiles was to be reminded of a different kind of life, a different kind of world, now vanished from the earth.
♥ "The reason I ask," Malcolm said, "is that I'm told large predators such as lions and tigers are not born man-eaters. Isn't that true? These animals must learn somewhere along the way that human beings are easy to kill. Only afterward do they become man-killers."
"Yes, I believe that's true," Grant said.
"Well, these dinosaurs must be even more reluctant than lions and tigers. After all, they come from a time before human beings—or even large mammals—existed at all. God knows what they think when they see us. So I wonder: have they learned, somewhere along the line, that humans are easy to kill?"
The group fell silent as they walked.
♥ "The dinosaurs we have now are real," Wu said, pointing to the screens around the room, "but in certain ways they are unsatisfactory. Unconvincing. I could make them better."
"Better in what way?"
"For one thing, they move too fast," Henry Wu said. "People aren't accustomed to seeing large animals that are so quick. I'm afraid visitors will think the dinosaurs look speeded up, like film running too fast."
"But, Henry, these are real dinosaurs. You said so yourself."
"I know," Wu said. "But we could easily breed slower, more domesticated dinosaurs."
"Domesticated dinosaurs?" Hammond snorted. "Nobody wants domesticated dinosaurs, Henry. They want the real thing."
"But that's my point," Wu said. "I don't think they do. They want to see their expectation, which is quite different."
Hammond was frowning.
"You said so yourself, John, this park is entertainment," Wu said. "And entertainment has nothing to do with reality. Entertainment is antithetical to reality. ..I don't think we should kid ourselves. We haven't re-created the past here. The past is gone. It can never be re-created. What we've done is reconstruct the past—or at least a version of the past. And I'm saying we can make a better version."
"Better than real?"
"Why not?" Wu said. "After all, these animals are already modified. We've inserted genes to make them patentable, and to make them lysine dependent. And we've done everything we can to promote growth, and accelerate development into adulthood."
Hammond shrugged. "That was inevitable. We didn't want to wait. We have investors to consider."
"Of course. But I'm just sating, why stop there? Why not push ahead to make exactly the kind of dinosaur that we'd like to see? One that is more acceptable to visitors, and one that is easier for us to handle? A slower, more docile version of our park?"
Hammond frowned. "But then the dinosaurs wouldn't be real."
"But they're not real now," Wu said. "That's what I'm trying to tell you. There isn't any reality here." He shrugged helplessly. He could see he wasn't getting through. Hammond had never been interested in technical details, and the essence of the argument was technical.
.."Excuse me, Henry," Hammond said, with an edge of impatience in his voice. "I do realize. And I must tell you frankly, Henry. I see no reason to improve upon reality. Every change we've made in the genome has been forced on us by law or necessity. We may make other changes in the future, to resist disease, or for other reasons. But I don't think we should improve upon reality just because we think its better that way. We have real dinosaurs out there now. That's what people want to see. And that's what they should see. That's our obligation, Henry. That's honest, Henry."
♥ "What are your plans now?"
"I don't know. Research."
"You want a university appointment?"
"That's a mistake," Hammond said briskly. "At least, if you respect your talents."
Wu had blinked. "Why?"
"Because, let's face facts," Hammond said. "Universities are no longer the intellectual centers of the country. The very idea is preposterous. Universities are the backwater. Don't look so surprised. I'm not saying anything you don't know. Since World War II, all the really important discoveries have come out of private laboratories. The laser, the transistor, the polio vaccine, the microchip, the hologram, the personal computer, magnetic resonant imaging, CAT scans—the list goes on and on. Universities simple aren't where it's happening any more. And they haven't been for forty years. If you want to do something important in computers of genetics, you don't go to a university. Dear me, no."
Wu found he was speechless.
"Good heavens," Hammond said, "what must you go through to start a new project? How many grant applications, how many forms, how many approvals? The steering committee? The department chairman? The university resources committee? The department chairman? The university resources committee? How do you get more work space if you need it? More assistants if you need them? How long does all that take? A brilliant man can't squander precious time with forms and committees. Life is too short, and DNA too long. You want to make your mark. If you want to get something done, stay out of universities."
♥ Every zoo expert knew that certain animals were especially likely to get free of their cages. Some, like monkeys and elephants, could undo cage doors. Others, like wild pigs, were unusually intelligent and could lift gate fasteners with their snouts. But who could suspect that the giant armadillo was a notorious cage-breaker? Or the moose? Yet a moose was almost as skillful with its snout as an elephant with its trunk. Moose were always getting free; they had a talent for it.
And so did the velociraptors.
♥ "What burns me," Hammond said, "is that we have made this wonderful park, this fantastic park, and our very first visitors are going through it like accountants, just looking for problems. They aren't experiencing the wonder of it at all."
"That's their problem," Arnold said. "We can't make them experience wonder."
♥ "Computers were built in the late 1940s because mathematicians like John von Neumann thought that if you had a computer—a machine to handle a lot of variables simultaneously—you would be able to predict the weather. Weather would finally fall to human understanding. And men believed that dream for the next forty years. They believed that prediction was just a function of keeping track of things. If you knew enough, you could predict anything. That's been a cherished scientific belief since Newton. ..Chaos theory throws it right out the window. It says that you can never predict certain phenomena at all. You can never predict the weather more than a few days away. All the money that has been spent on long-range forecasting—about half a billion dollars in the last few decades—is money wasted. It's a fool's errand. It's as pointless as trying to turn lead into gold. We look back at the alchemists and laugh at what they were trying to do, but future generations will laugh at us the same way. We've tried the impossible—and spent a lot of money doing it. Because in fact there are great categories of phenomena that are inherently unpredictable."
"Chaos says that?"
"Yes, and it is astonishing how few people care to hear it," Malcolm said. "I have all this information to Hammond long before he broke ground on this place. You're going to engineer a bunch of prehistoric animals and set them on an island? Fine. A lovely dream. Charming. But it won't go as planned. It is inherently unpredictable, just as the weather is.
♥ "Broadly speaking, the ability of the park to control the spread of life-forms. Because the history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers. Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way." Malcolm shook his head. "I don't mean to be philosophical, but there it is."
♥ "As a matter of fact, I'm feeling a bit of dread. I suspect we are at a very dangerous point."
"Do mathematicians believe in intuition?"
"Absolutely. Very important, intuition. Actually, I was thinking of fractals," Malcolm said. "You know about fractals?"
Grant shook his head. "Not really, no."
"Fractals are a kind of geometry, associated with a man named Mandelbrot. Unlike ordinary Euclidean geometry that everybody learns in school—squares and cubes and spheres—fractal geometry appears to describe real objects in the natural world. Mountains and clouds are fractal shapes. So fractals are probably related to reality. Somehow.
"Well, Mandelbrot found a remarkable thing with his geometric tools. He found that things looked almost identical at different scales. ..For example," Malcolm said, "a big mountain, seen from far away, has a certain rugged mountain shape. If you get closer, and examine a small peak of the big mountain, it will have the same mountain shape. In fact, you can go all the way down the scale to a tiny speck of rock, seen under a microscope—it will have the same basic fractal shape as the big mountain. ..It's a way of looking at things," Malcolm said. "Mandelbrot found a sameness from the smallest to the largest. And this sameness of scale also occurs for events. ..Consider cotton prices," Malcolm said. "There are good records of cotton prices going back more than a hundred years. When you study fluctuations in cotton prices, you find that the graph of price fluctuations in the course of a day looks basically like the graph for a week, which looks basically like the graph for a year, or for ten years. And that's how things are. A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there. . . . And at the end of your life, your whole existence has that same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day."
"I guess it's one way to look at things," Grant said.
"No," Malcolm said. "It's the only way to look at things. At least, the only way that is true to reality. You see, the fractal idea of sameness carries within it an aspect of recursion, a kind of doubling back on itself, which means that events are unpredictable. That they can change suddenly, and without warning. ..But we have soothed ourselves into imagining sudden change as something that happens outside the normal order of things. An accident, like a car crash. Or beyond our control, like a fatal illness. We do not conceive of sudden, radical, irrational change as built into the very fabric of existence. Yet it is. And chaos theory teaches us," Malcolm said, "that straight linearity, which we have come to take for granted in everything from physics to fiction, simply does not exist. Linearity is an artificial way of viewing the world. Real life isn't a series of interconnected events occurring one after another like beads string on a necklace. Life is actually a series of encounters in which one event may change those that follow in a wholly unpredictable, even devastating way." Malcolm sat back in his seat, looking toward the other Land Cruiser, a few yards ahead. "That's a deep truth about the structure of our universe. But, for some reason, we insist on behaving as if it were not true."
♥ Blurred through the rainy windshield, the dinosaur was coming toward their car. Slow, ominous strides, coming right toward them.
Malcolm said, "You know, at times like this one feels, well, perhaps extinct animals should be left extinct. Don't you have that feeling now?"
♥ "If you were going to start a bioengineering company, Henry, what would you do? Would you make products to help mankind, to fight illness and disease? Dear me, no. That's a terrible idea. A very poor use of new technology."
Hammond shook his head sadly. "Yet, you'll remember," he said, "the original genetic engineering companies, like Genentech and Cetus, were all started to make pharmaceuticals. New drugs for mankind. Noble, noble purpose. Unfortunately, drugs face all kinds of barriers. FDA testing alone takes five to eight years—if you're lucky. Even worse, there are forces at work in the marketplace. Suppose you make a miracle drug for cancer or heart disease—as Genentech did. Suppose you now want to charge a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars a dose. You might imagine that is your privilege. After all, you invented the drug, you paid to develop and test it; you should be able to charge whatever you wish. But do you really think that the government will let you do that? No, Henry, they will not. Sick people aren't going to at a thousand dollars a dose for needed medication—they won't be grateful, they'll be outraged. Blue Cross isn't going to pay it. They'll scream highway robbery. So something will happen. Your patent application will be denied. Your permits will be delayed. Something will force you to see reason—and to sellout drug at a lower cost. From a business standpoint, that makes helping mankind a very risky business. Personally, I would never help mankind."
Wu had heard the argument before. And he knew Hammond was right; some new bioengineered pharmaceuticals, had indeed suffered inexplicable delays and patent problems.
"Now," Hammond said, "think how different it is when you're making entertainment. Nobody needs entertainment. That's not a matter for government intervention. If I charge five thousand dollars a day for my park, who is going to stop me? After all, nobody needs to come here. And, far from being highway robbery, a costly price rag actually increases the appeal of the park. A visit becomes a status symbol, and all Americans love that. So do the Japanese, and of course they have far more money. ..I'm sure it would be interesting for the scientists, to do research. But you arrive at the point where these animals are simply too expensive to be used for research. This is wonderful technology, Henry, but it's also frightfully expensive technology. The fact is, it can only be supported as entertainment." Hammond shrugged. "That's just the way it is."
"But if there are attempts to close down—"
"Face the damn facts, Henry," Hammond said irritably. "This isn't America. This isn't even Costa Rica. This is my island. I own it. And nothing is going to stop me from opening Jurassic Park to all the children of the world." He chuckled. "Or, at least, to the rich ones. And I tell you, they'll love it."
♥ After all, most DNA in living creatures was exactly the same. DNA was an incredibly ancient substance. Human beings, walking around in the streets of the modern world, bouncing their pink new babies, hardly stopped to think that the substance at the center of it all—the substance that began the dance of life—was a chemical almost as old as the earth itself. The DNA molecule was so old that its evolution had essentially finished more than two billion years ago. There had been little new since that time. Just a few recent combinations of the old genes—and not much of that.
When you compared the DNA of man and the DNA of a lowly bacterium, you found that only about 10 percent of the strands were different.
♥ He explained that, during his years in Africa, he had visited the scenes of a half-dozen animal attacks on humans in the bush. One leopard attack: the leopard had torn open a tent in the night and taken a three-year-old child. Then one buffalo attack in Amboseli; two lion attacks; one croc attack in the north, near Meru. In every case, there was surprisingly little evidence left behind.
Inexperienced people imagined horrific proofs of an animal attack—torn limbs left behind in the tent, trails of dripping blood leading away into the bush, bloodstained clothing not far from the campsite. But the truth was, there was usually nothing at all, particularly if the victim was small, an infant or a young child. The person just seemed to disappear, as if he had walked out into the bush and never come back. A predator could kill a child just by shaking it, snapping the neck. Usually there wasn't any blood.
And most of the time you never found any other remains of the victims. Sometimes a button from a shirt, or a sliver of rubber from a shoe. But most of the time, nothing.
Predators took children—they preferred children—and they left nothing behind.
♥ This was just like the tyrannosaur—another classic example of an amphibian visual cortex. Studies of frogs had shown that amphibians only saw moving things, like insects. If something didn't move, they literally didn't see it. The same thing seemed to be true of dinosaurs.
♥ "Malcolm Effect implies catastrophic changes."
"But Arnold says all the systems are working perfectly."
"That's when it happens," Malcolm said.
Ellie said, "You don't think much of Arnold, do you?"
"He's all right. He's an engineer. Wu's the same. They're both technicians. They don't have intelligence. They have what I call 'thintelligence.' They see the immediate situation. They think narrowly and they call it 'being focused.' They don't see the surround. They didn't see the consequences. That's how you get an island like this. From thintelligent thinking. Because you cannot make an animal and not except it to act alive. To be unpredictable. To escape. But they don't see that."
"Don't you think it's just human nature?" Ellie said.
"God, no," Malcolm said. "That's like saying scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast is human nature. It's nothing of the sort. It's uniquely Western training, and much of the rest of the world is nauseated by the thought of it. ..I'll tell you the problem with engineers and scientists. Scientists have an elaborate line of bullshit about how they are seeking to know the truth about nature. Which is true, but that's not what drives them. Nobody is driven by abstractions like 'seeking truth.'
"Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something. They conveniently define such considerations as pointless. If they don't do it, someone else will. Discovery, they believe, is inevitable. So they just try to do it first. That's the game in science. Even pure scientific discovery is an aggressive, penetrative act. It takes big equipment, and it literally changes the world afterward. Particle accelerators scar the land, and leave radioactive byproducts. Astronauts leave trash on the moon. There is always some proof that scientists were there, making their discoveries. Discovery is always a rape of the natural world. Always.
"The scientists want it that way. They have to stick their instruments in. They have to leave their mark. They can't just watch. They can't just appreciate. They can't just fit into the natural order. They have to make something unnatural happen. That is the scientist's job, and now we have whole societies that try to be scientific." He sighed, and sank back.
Ellie said, "Don't you think you're overstating—"
"What does one of your excavations look like a year later?"
"Pretty bad," she admitted.
"You don't replant, you don't restore the land after you dig?"
She shrugged. "There's no money, I guess. . . ."
"There's only enough money to dig, but not to repair?"
"Well, we're just working in the badlands. . . ."
"Just the badlands," Malcolm said, shaking his head. "Just trash. Just byproducts. Just side effects... I'm trying to tell you that scientists want it this way. They want byproducts and trash and scars and side effects. It's a way of reassuring themselves. It's built into the fabric of science, and it's increasingly a disaster."
"Then what's the answer?"
"Get rid of the thintelligent ones. Take them out of power."
"But then we'd lose all the advances—"
"What advances?" Malcolm said irritably. "The number of hours women devote to housework has not changed since 1930, despite all the advances. All the vacuum cleaners, washer-dryers, trash compactors, garbage disposals, wash-and-wear fabrics... Why does it still take as long to clean the house as it did in 1930? ..Because there haven't been any advances," Malcolm said. " Not really. Thirty thousand years ago, when men were doing cave paintings at Lascaux, they worked twenty hours a week to provide themselves with food and shelter and clothing. The rest of the time, the could play, or sleep, or do whatever they wanted. And they lived in a natural world, with clean air, clean water, beautiful trees and sunsets. Think about it. Twenty hours a week. Thirty thousand years ago."
Ellie said, "You want to turn back the clock?"
"No," Malcolm said. "I want people to wake up. We've had four hundred years of modern science, and we ought to know by now what it's good for, and what it's not good for. It's time for a change."
"Before we destroy the planet?"
He sighed, and closed his eyes. "Oh dear," he said. "That's the last thing I would worry about."
♥ "That should do it," Muldoon said. "Standard elephant gets about two hundred cc's, but they're only two or three tons each. Tyrannosaurux rex is eight tons, and a lot meaner. That matters to the dose."
"Animal dose is partly body weight and partly temperament. You shoot the same dose of 709 into an elephant, a hippo, and a rhino—you'll immobilize the elephant, so it just stands there like a statue. You'll slow down the hippo, so it gets kind of sleepy but it keeps moving. And the rhino will just get fighting mad. But, on the other hand, you chase a rhino for more than five minutes in a car and he'll drop dead from adrenaline shock. Strange combination of tough and delicate."
♥ "I hope he's dead," Lex said.
Tim could see he wasn't: the dinosaur's chest was still moving, and one forearm twitched in spasms. But something was wrong with him. Then Tim saw the white canister sticking in the back of the head, by the indentation of the ear.
"He's been shot with a dart," Tim said.
"Good," Lex said. "He practically ate us."
Tim watched the labored breathing. He felt unexpectedly distressed to see the huge animal humbled like this. He didn't want it to die. "It's not his fault," he said.
"Oh sure," Lex said. "He practically ate us and it's not his fault."
"He's a carnivore. He was just doing what he does."
"You wouldn't say that," Lex said, "if you were in his stomach right now."
♥ Hammond sighed, and sat down heavily. "Damn it all," he said, shaking his head. "It must surely not have escaped your notice that at heart what we are attempting here is an extremely simple idea. My colleagues and I determined, several years ago, that it was possible to clone the DNA of an extinct animal, and to grow it. That seemed to us a wonderful idea, it was a kind of time travel—the only time travel in the world. Bring them back alive, so to speak. And since it was so exciting, and since it was possible to do it, we decided to go forward. We got this island, and we proceeded. It was all very simple.
"Simple?" Malcolm said. Somehow he found the energy to sit up at the bed. "Simple? You're a bigger fool than I thought you were. And I thought you were a very substantial fool. ..What is that, going on out there?" he said. "That's your simple idea. Simple. You create new life-forms, about which you know nothing at all. Your Dr. Wu does not even know the names of the things he is creating. He cannot be bothered with such details as what the thing is called, let alone what it is. You create many of them in a very short time, you never learn anything about them, yet you expect them to do your bidding, because you made them and you therefore think you own them; you forget that they are alive, they have an intelligence of their own, and they may not do your bidding, and you forget how little you know about them, how incompetent you are to do the things that you so frivolously call simple. . . . Dear God . . . ..You know what's wrong with scientific power?" Malcolm said. "It's a form of inherited wealth. And you know what assholes congenitally rich people are. It never fails."
Hammond said, "What is he talking about?
"..I will tell you what I am talking about," he said. "Most kinds of power require a substantial sacrifice by whoever wants the power. There is an apprenticeship, a discipline lasting many years. Whatever kind of power you want. President of the company. Black belt in karate. Spiritual guru. Whatever it is you seek, you have to put in the time, the practice, the effort. You must give up a lot to get it. It has to be very important to you. And once you have attained it, it is your power. It can't be given away: it resides in you. It is literally the result of your discipline.
"Now, what is interesting about this process is that, by the time someone has acquired the ability to kill with his bare hands, he has also matured to the point where hew won't use it unwisely. So that kind of power has a built-in control. The discipline of getting the power changes you so that you won't abuse it.
"But scientific power is like inherited wealth: attained without discipline. You read what others have done, and you take the next step. You can do it very young. You can make progress very fast. There is no discipline lasting many decades. There is no mastery: old scientists are ignored. There is no humility before nature. There is only a get-rich-quick, make-a-name-for-yourself-fast philosophy. Cheat, lie, falsify—it doesn't matter. Not to you, or to your colleagues. No one will criticize you. No one has any standards. They are all trying to do the same thing: to do something big, and do it fast.
"And because you can stand on the shoulders of giants, you can accomplish something quickly. You don't even know exactly what you have done, but already you have reported it, patented it, and sold it. And the buyer will have even less discipline than you. The buyer simply purchases the power, like any commodity. The buyer doesn't even conceive that any discipline might be necessary. ..I'll make it simple," Malcolm said. "A karate master does not kill people with his bare hands. He does not lose his temper and kill his wife. The person who kills is the person who has no discipline, no restraint, and who has purchased his power in the form of a Saturday night special. And that is the kind of power that science fosters, and permits. And that is why you think that to build a place like this is simple."
"It was simple," Hammond insisted.
"Then why did it go wrong?"
♥ "You know what we are really talking about here," Malcolm said. "All this attempt to control... We are talking about Western attitudes that are five hundred years old. They began at the time when Florence, Italy, was the most important city in the world. The basic idea of science—that there was a new way to look at reality, that it was objective, that it did not depend on your beliefs or your nationality, that it was rational—that idea was fresh and exciting back then. It offered promise and hope for the future, and it swept away the old medieval system, which was hundreds of years old. The medieval world of feudal politics and religious dogma and hateful superstition fell before science. But, in truth, this was because the medieval world didn't really work any more. It didn't work economically, it didn't work intellectually, and it didn't fit the new world that was emerging.
.."But now," he continued, "science is the belief system that is hundreds of years old. And, like the medieval system before it, science is starting not to fit the world any more. Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways—air, and water, and land—because of ungovernable science." He sighed. "This must is obvious to everyone.
.."At the same time, the great intellectual justification of science has vanished. Ever since Newton and Descartes, science has explicitly offered us the vision of total control. Science has claimed the power to eventually control everything, through its understanding of natural laws. But in the twentieth century, that claim has been shattered beyond repair. First, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle set limits on what we could know about the subatomic world. Oh well, we say. None of us lives in a subatomic world. It doesn't make any practical difference as we go through our lives. Then Gödel's theorem set similar limits to mathematics, the formal language of science. Mathematicians used to think that their language had some special inherent trueness that derived from the laws of logic. Now we know that what we call 'reason' is just an arbitrary game. It's not special, in the way we thought it was.
"And now chaos theory proves that unpredictability is built into our daily lives. It is as mundane as the rainstorm we cannot predict. And so the grand vision of science, hundreds of years old—the dream of total control—has died, in our century. And with it much of the justification, the rationale for science to do what it does. And for us to listen to it. Science has always said that it may not know everything now but it will know, eventually. But now we see that isn't true. It is an ideal boast. As foolish, and as misguided, as the child who jumps off a building because he believes he can fly.
.."We are witnessing the end of the scientific era. Science, like other outmoded systems, is destroying itself. As it gains in power, it proves itself incapable of handling the power. Because things are going very fast now. Fifty years ago, everyone was gaga over the atomic bomb. That was power. No one could imagine anything more. Yet, a bare decade after the bomb, we began to have genetic power. And genetic power is far more potent than atomic power. And it will be in everyone's hands. It will be in kits for backyard gardeners. Experiments for schoolchildren. Cheap labs for terrorists and dictators. And that will force everyone to ask the same question—What should I do with my power?—which is the very question science says it cannot answer."
"So what will happen?" Ellie said.
Malcolm shrugged. "A change."
"What kind of change?"
"All major changes are like death," he said. "You can't see to the other side until you are there."
♥ The behavior of the dinosaurs had always been a minor consideration for Wu. And rightly so: behavior was a second-order effect of DNA, like protein enfolding. You couldn't really predict behavior, and you couldn't really control it, except in very rude ways, like making an animal dependent on a dietary substance by withholding an enzyme. But, in general, behavioral effects were simply beyond the reach of understanding. You couldn't look at a DNA sequence and predict behavior. It was impossible.
And that had made Wu's DNA work purely empirical. It was a matter of tinkering, the way a modern workman might repair an antique grandfather clock. You were dealing with something out of the past, something constructed of ancient materials and following ancient rules. You couldn't be certain why it worked as it did; and it had been repaired and modified many times already, by forces of evolution, over eons of time. So, like the workman who makes an adjustment and then sees if the clock runs any better, Wu would make an adjustment and then see if the animals behaved any better. And he only tried to correct gross behavior: uncontrolled butting of the electrical fences, or rubbing the skin raw on tree trunks. Those were the behaviors that sent him back to the drawing board.
And the limits of his science had left him with a mysterious feeling about the dinosaurs in the park. He was never sure, never really sure at all, whether the behavior of the animals was historically accurate or not. Were they behaving as they really had in the past? It was an open question, ultimately unanswerable.
♥ Hammond shook his head. "Who could have imagined it would turn out this way."
Ellie said, "Apparently Malcolm did."
"I didn't imagine it," Malcolm said. "I calculated it."
Hammond sighed. "No more of this, please. He's been saying 'I told you so' for hours. But nobody ever wanted this to happen."
"It isn't a matter of wanting it or not," Malcolm said, eyes closed. He spoke slowly, through the drugs. "It's a matter of what you think you can accomplish. When the hunter goes out in the ruin forest to seek food for his family, does he expect to control nature? No. He imagines that nature is beyond him. Beyond his understanding. Beyond his control. Maybe he prays to nature, to the fertility of the forest that provides for him. He prays because he knows he doesn't control it. He's at the mercy of it.
"But you decide you won't be at the mercy of nature. You decide you'll control nature, and from that moment on you're in deep trouble, because you can't do it. Yet you have made systems that require you to do it. And you can't do it—and you never have—and you never will. Don't confuse things. You can make a boat, but you can't never will. Don't confuse things. You can make a boat, but you can't make the ocean. You can make an airplane, but you can't make the air. Your powers are much less than your dreams of reason would have you believe."
♥ "You can't destroy this planet. You can't even come close."
"Most people believe," Hammond said stiffly, "that the planet is in jeopardy."
"Well, it's not," Malcolm said.
"All the experts agree that our planet is in trouble."
Malcolm sighed. "Let me tell you about our planet," he said. "Our planet is four and a half billion years old. There has been life on this planet for nearly that long. Three point eight billion years. The first bacteria. And, later, the first multicellular animals, then the first complex creatures, in the sea, on the land. Then the great sweeping ages of animals—the amphibians, the dinosaurs, the mammals, each lasting millions upon millions of years. Great dynasties of creatures arising, flourishing, dying away. All this happening against a background of continuous and violent upheaval, mountain ranges thrust up and eroded away, cometary impacts, volcanic eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving... Endless constant and violent change... Even today, the greatest geographical feature on the planet comes from two great continents colliding, buckling to make the Himalayan mountain range over millions of years. The planet has survived everything, in its time. It will certainly survive us."
Hammond frowned. "Just because it lasted a long time," he said, "doesn't mean it is permanent. If there was a radiation accident..."
"Suppose there was," Malcolm said. "Let's say we had a bad one, and all the plants and animals died, and the earth was clicking hot for a hundred thousand years. Life would survive somewhere—under the soil, or perhaps frozen in Arctic ice. And after all those years, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would again spread over the planet. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. And of course it would be very different from what it is now. But the earth would survive our folly. Life would survive our folly. Only we," Malcolm said, "think it wouldn't."
Hammond said, "Well, if the ozone layer gets thinner—"
"There will be more ultraviolet radiation reaching the surface. So what?"
"Well. It'll cause skin cancer."
Malcolm shook his head. "Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation."
"And many others will die out," Hammond said.
Malcolm sighed. "You think this is the first time such a thing has happened? Don't you know about oxygen?"
"I know it's necessary for life."
"It is now," Malcolm said. "But oxygen is actually a metabolic poison. It's a corrosive gas, like fluorine, which is used to etch glass. And when oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells—say, around three billion years ago—it created a crisis for all other life on our planet. Those plant cells were polluting the environment with a deadly poison. They were exhaling a lethal gas, and building up its concentration. A planet like Venus has less than one percent oxygen. On earth, the concentration of oxygen was going up rapidly—five, ten, eventually twenty-one percent! Earth had an atmosphere of pure poison! Incompatible with life!"
Hammond looked irritated. "So what is your point? That modern pollutants will be incorporated, too?"
"No," Malcolm said. "My point is that life on earth can take care of itself. In the thinking of a human being, a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago, we didn't have cars and airplanes and computers and vaccines. . . . It was a whole different world. But to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We have been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we are gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
"And we very well might be gone," Hammond said, huffing.
"Yes," Malcolm said. "We might."
"So what are you saying? We shouldn't care about the environment?"
"No, of course not."
Malcolm coughed, and stared into the distance. "Let's be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven't got the power to destroy the planet—or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves."
♥ "But it was known that in the case of American alligators, only the female guarded the nest, awaiting the time of hatching. The bull alligator spent days in early spring lying beside the female in a mating pair, blowing bubbles on her cheeks to bring her to receptivity, finally causing her to lift her tail and allow him to insert his penis. By the time the female built her nest, two months later, the male was long gone. The female guarded her cone-shaped, three-foot-high nest ferociously, and when the hatchings began to squeak and emerge from their shells, she often helped break open the eggs, then nudged them toward the water, sometimes carrying them in her mouth."
"So adult alligators protect the young?"
"Yes," Grant said. "And there is also a kind of group protection. Young alligators make a distinctive distress cry, and it brings any adult who hears it—parent or not—to their assistance with a full-fledged, violent attack. Not a threat display. A full-on attack."
♥ That was beyond Grant. But, in another sense, he was not surprised. Paleontologists had been digging up bones for so long that they had forgotten how little information could be gleaned from a skeleton. Bones might tell you something about the gross appearance of an animal, its height and weight. They might tell you something about how the muscles attached, and therefore something about the crude behavior of the animal during life. They might give you clues to the few diseases that affected bone. But a skeleton was a poor thing, really, from which to try and deduce the total behavior of an organism.
Since bones were all the paleontologists had, bones were what they used. Like other paleontologists, Grant had become very expert at working with bones. And somewhere along the way, he had started to forget the unprovable possibilities—that the dinosaurs might be truly different animals, that they might possess behavior and social life organized along lines that were utterly mysterious to their later, mammalian descendants.
♥ He stared at the raptors, ranged along the beach in a rigid formation, silently watching the boat. And he suddenly understood what he was looking at.
"Those animals," Gennaro said, shaking his head, "they sure are desperate to escape from here."
"No," Grant said. "They don't want to escape at all."
"No," Grant said. "They want to migrate."
♥ The helicopter gained speed as it headed toward the mainland. It was cold now, and the soldiers muscled the door closed. As they did, grant looked back just once, and saw the island against a deep purple sky and sea, cloaked in a deep mist that blurred the white-hot explosion that burst rapidly, one after another, until it seemed the entire island was flowing, a diminishing bright spot in the darkening night.