Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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A Dialogue with Henry Eyring I 105 Eyring: One relates to cancer. What we have found out is a theory of mutation that explains the way chromosomes are changed inside the cell. There are forty-six chromosomes inside the human cell, twenty-three from each parent. Inside these chromosomes are genes. A gene is simply a pattern for making particular molecules. Some of these molecules promote bodily reactions. If you have those reactions going fast enough, the tissue grows. There are other molecules which inhibit growth. If you lose the ability to make these inhibitors because a certain part of the gene is damaged, you may have cancer. The forty-six chromosomes have about a million genes and a small number of them have to do with the crucial function of controlling rate of growth. They can be damaged by radiation or chemicals so that the genes are not coded to make the right molecules. The wrong molecules often are lethal, but the body's defense mechanism, the immune reaction, acts to destroy them. However, some of them leave the cell enough like it was that the body does not recognize it as an intruder. It is a Greek bearing gifts. This cell without the inhibitors grows out of control. That is what cancer is. The cells are much like they were before, but out of control. I have collaborated with Miss Betsy Stover who has been working the last twenty years on cancer mechanisms by injecting dogs with radioactive materials. Together we have written a number of papers interpreting the results of her experimentation. I have read these papers at about twenty universities. The theory that I write down is an equation which fits the data and gives insights into possible causes of cancer that one did not have before. I did not participate in the laboratory research, but I have a facility for seeing how one can explain the experimental results in terms of mechanisms and write equations for them. Kimball: Is that immediately useful? Eyring: Yes, because you can make deductions from it. You can start systematizing and interpreting experimental facts. Some facts are very simple. We are over-engineered against damaging mutations. Chromosomes are getting damaged all the time, but they are also being repaired. While we are young, the repair process goes so fast that cell divisions which result in a seriously modified cell only rarely take place. In their youth, maybe five people per hundred thousand per year will get cancer. But by the time they get up to seventy, it will be 18,000 per hundred thousand because their reserves are used up. If you think of scissors cutting things and needles repairing them, they are running out of needles and thread, so they stay damaged and you get uninhibited growth. What is it that uses up the needles and thread? Bad living. Anything that makes you grow old will increase the likelihood of cancer. Kimball: I remember some research you did in wool fibers and in luciferase. Eyring: Yes, that is related to rates of chemical reactions. And we are still working on these questions. Rates of cooking, or growth of muscles, or tightening of muscles, or using the brain—everything involves the speed of some reactions. It really means getting acquainted with the molecules as if they were your friends and knowing what their nature is and what they will do, how hard you have to throw them at one another so they will change partners. It is like a detective story