Science of Star Wars: Clones

The Clone Wars were a critical conflict within the Star Wars Saga.  Though it was created through the manipulations of Palpatine to quickly create an army made up of clones of Jango Fett (bad ass bounty hunter).  Cloning, though still full of unknowns, is a very well developed scientific field with many new advances coming often.

Cloning, and the broader field of genentic engineering, refers to creating genetic duplicates of organisms.  Organisms often natural create clones (identical twins).

Humans have been creating animal hybrids for eons.  This involves crossing different breeds of, say, dogs in order to display desired characteristics.  We do this extensively with industrial bacteria that are used to produce various products such as proteins or industrial chemicals.

This video form Paul Wolpe gives a nice overview:

This video articulates many different, advanced techniques in how biology is manipulated in various ways.

In Episode II and The Clone Wars, we learn more about how the Clone Troopers and their desired traits.  In this case, they would mature significantly faster -only 10 years.  They are also clones of  Jango Fett who has decidedly advanced personal traits.  We also learn in Season 6 of the Clone Wars that each clone contained a biological “chip” that programmed them to execute Order 66.

While these are certainly more scientifically advanced features, they are, frankly, rather limited when we reflect on the type of work that we have completed in research labs to-date.

There are also clear ethical issues to this type of work.  It’s also not clear what type of research we should undertake given the ethical an safety implications.  Should biology be human playthings?  Are embedding various genes harmful or otherwise destructive or inappropriate for these target animals?

Certainly creating an army of clone troopers is something that the scientific community would frown upon (though frankly it’s not clear that it’s the fastest way to create an army in general).  But we are very early in this scientific discovery and we don’t understand all of the ramifications of this work.  There may be many more unforeseen consequences to consider.

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