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Of course no such proposal ever went to bioethicists at the University of Ingolstadt, where the fictional Frankenstein created his monster.In 1790, even a real Frankenstein would have faced no ethical reviews.The "background facts to her nightmare," Britton writes, invoking Freud, "opened a door to unconscious phantasies of a dreadful scene of childbirth." He adds that after losing her first child in 1815, Shelley wrote in her journal that she dreamed about the baby coming back to life.
"On the whole, in the face of clear commitment, HEAVEN could bear fruit within a couple of years," they write.
(Many scientists have called the project unfeasible and unethical, but last November, two of the co-authors announced to the media that they had performed a head transplant on a human corpse and soon planned to publish details.) But by far the bulk of the scientific literature hand-wrings, ponders, and philosophizes about the most familiar form of the myth, which Shelley flicked at in her "Modern Prometheus" subtitle: the idea that mad scientists playing God the creator will cause the entire human species to suffer eternal punishment for their trespasses and hubris.
A face recognition study that swapped the eyes, noses, and mouths of former President George W. The authors of "HEAVEN: The Frankenstein effect," note that Aldini ultimately aimed to transplant a human head, using electricity to spark it back into awareness.
That's just what the authors have in mind for their project, the head anastomosis venture (HEAVEN).
, ticks off a diverse list of recent experiments that have drawn the "Franken-" label: the cloning of Dolly the sheep, the engineering of a highly lethal H5N1 bird influenza that could more easily infect mammals, the synthesizing of an entire bacterial genome.
Other triggers of -ish fears have included in vitro fertilization, proposals to transplant pig organs into humans, and tomatoes endowed with genes from fish to make them freeze-tolerant. Craig Venter, a pioneer in genomics based in San Diego, California, has been called a Frankenstein for his effort to create artificial bacteria with the smallest possible genomes. "I think she's had more influence with that one book than most authors in history," says Venter, who owns a first edition.
But the proposal does exist in a 2014 paper, which speculates about whether the story would have had a happier ending if 21st century safeguards had existed 2 centuries ago.
It is one of many riffs on the novel to be found in biomedical literature.
She married Percy after his first wife's suicide, only to lose him 6 years later when he drowned in a sailing accident.
But she called on science, not psychology, in explaining how she "came to think of, and dilate upon, so very hideous an idea" at 18 years of age.