i know some people are going to get all weird with the EMOTIONS about what jackson labs does (breeds specific mice for medical research) but let’s pretend you don’t care about that for just ….about ten minutes.
i went to this lab as a teenager, with a group from an oceanography camp i was in over the summer. i guess i was maybe in the 9th or 10th grade. i was well into my science fiction phase, and was actually toying around with a lot of the characters and ideas that you know today, but i didn’t have anything solid yet. just some faces + space.
but jackson labs blew my mind.
the idea that you could play with the genetics of a species so much that you could consistantly produce certain helpful or harmful traits really stunned me. i remember looking at their display in the front (where they had a live version of some of the genetic strains available at the time) and being amazed. mice which consistantly could be bred with no autoimmune system, or mice which could consistantly be bred obese - i remember those two the best, because they shared a cage. AIDS mouse needed obese mouse’s body heat to snuggle up to.
i guess it was the first time i realized how far genetic science had really advanced, and how far it could advance in the future. and to this day i remain impressed that they could freeze ‘batches’ of fertalized eggs and have them out and growing into mice as soon as an order was placed.
i guess, in a way, jackson labs was where the idea for what grey was and where he came from really originated. that you could pick up a basic genetic structure and tweak little bits of it until you had what you wanted, and then produce it en masse. it obviously had an impact on the story, anyway.
but i think what i liked best was that these guys weren’t just BREEDING mice. they were MAKING mice. they’d take the eggs of mice, tweak them, check them, and freeze them. there weren’t rows and rows and rows of caged mice everywhere, out of control. the mice that were in cages were already ordered and ready to roll, they were just waiting around until they reached maturity to be shipped. you only had as many live mice as you absolutely needed at any given time. it was just really sterile and controlled, and it endeared itself to me. i’ve never liked rows and rows and rows of animals that breeders keep, it always bothers me that those animals exist for the sole purpose of reproduction. but the way that jackson labs operated - that mice would only be born if they had a specific life purpose already to serve, already outlined, already ordered - really intruiged me. i’m not sure why, but the entire concept just felt so fantasticly science fiction.
and i want to go back because it’s really cool.