Saturday, July 31, 2010

Much ado about nothing

In catastrophic dreams, at moments, the entire universe becomes unstuck, turned upside-down. Then, a moment later, everything is back in place, as it has always been. At present, our DNaydreams seem to be a bit like that.

For ages, at a homely level, I've been jumping up and down and shouting about the promises of DNA-testing in the genealogical domain. Well, the truth of the matter is that nothing much at all has happened lately in this domain. Not a single male named Skeffington or Skyvington (or something like that) has responded to my appeals for DNA collaboration. You can't get genealogical blood out of a stone of apathy. So, there we are. I don't even seem to be able to persuade Pickering and Walker relatives to participate in this kind of research. Consequently, the global results are zero. This lack of collaboration doesn't disturb me unduly, in the sense that it doesn't impinge upon my knowledge of the history of my ancestors. At most, it casts a veil upon the quality of my communications with genetic cousins and fellow-researchers.

At a more profound level, it's interesting to learn that a brilliant individual can herald in an amazing new age by having his genome analyzed and published… only to find that this potentially-awesome revelation fizzles out into nothingness. The world feared that Craig Venter, in publishing his personal genome, might be selling his soul to the Devil. Well, the least that might be said is that the Devil is taking his time in pinning down the possible weaknesses of Craig Venter. If indeed it was the Devil who invested in this kind of research, then his ROI (return on investment) would appear to be dismal for the moment. Not enough to call out the troops of the Vatican. Not enough to send Venter to Hell… or even to Heaven, for that matter.

Click the portrait of Venter to access a fascinating English-language interview by Der Spiegel. You'll learn exactly how and why nothing has really happened. In fact, this absence of spectacular fallout is convenient. There are exciting and indeed awesome times when the best thing that could possibly happen is… nothing.

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