MadSci Network: Development

Re: If a human female is born with about 2 million eggs, and when the eggs

Date: Thu Jun 23 13:57:40 2005
Posted By: Chris Reigstad, Grad student, Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University in St. Louis
Area of science: Development
ID: 1119407146.Dv

Thanks for your question, Chris.

     Egg and sperm carry only half of the genetic material needed to create a human, so from a 
genetic perspective, I'm afraid you are definitely not 54. However, your question evokes 
important philosophical questions about the nature of life and when human life begins (please 
visit the website linked below). In summary, the answer to your question depends on the 
perspective you take. Here are some of the views (described by S.F. Gilbert) that may yield 
different answers to your question:

- metabolic view
- genetic view
- embryological view
- neurological view
- ecological/technological view
- immunological view
- integrated physiological view

Please visit this website for a better understanding of these perspectives:
Scott F. Gilbert, author of Developmental Biology (7th ed.), has written some nice essays on this 

When Does Human Life Begin?

Thanks again,
Chris Reigstad

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