Thursday, 23 April 2015

Erwin Schrödinger (1944) - What is Life?

The Timoféëff report contains a practical hint which I cannot refrain from mentioning here, though it has, of course, no bearing on our present investigation.  There are plenty of occasions in modern life when a human being has to be exposed to X-rays.  The direct dangers involved, as burns, X-ray cancer, sterilization, are well known, and protection by lead screens, lead-loaded aprons, etc., is provided, especially for nurses and doctors who have to handle the rays regularly.  The point is, that even when these imminent dangers to the indirect danger of small detrimental mutations being produced in germ cells - mutations of the kind envisaged when we spoke of the unfavourable results of close-breeding.  To put it drastically, though perhaps a little naïvely, the injuriousness of a marriage between first cousins might very well be increased by the fact that their grandmother had served for a long period as an X-ray nurse.  It is not a point that need worry any individual personally.  But any possibility of gradually infecting the human race with unwanted latent mutations ought to be a matter of concern to the community.
This is quite a statement from Schrödinger regarding X-rays.  I wonder what X-ray machines at airports are adding to the human gene pool...  All those unnecessary X-rays gradually infecting our germ-line cells with unwanted latent mutations.

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