An Ingenious Solution

The name of the late Ester Boserup came into my mind during a recent discussion in comments. The Danish economist – who is well respected by specialists, but perhaps insufficiently well known outside the ‘inner circle’ – had some pretty interesting views on global population, agriculture and technology. One of her central themes is that it is the pressure of rising population which acts as a motor of technological change (and not vice versa). A kind of Malthus in reverse. Now the point is that when a process hits a constraint, ingenuity may be brought to bear in a way which not only circumvents but supercedes the original problem. All of this was brought into my mind by news of what has been happening in Harvard recently:

“Scientists at Harvard University have found a way to ?reprogramme? adult human cells to an embryonic state. The discovery could provide an alternative to therapeutic cloning, as a way to make embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the patient.

The researchers fused adult skin cells with embryonic stem cells, producing hybrid cells in which the adult nucleus had returned to an embryonic state. The journal Science will publish their findings on Thursday.”

Ingenuity once more triumphs over adversity. This I think was also George Steiner’s point about the East European and Latin American novel in the 70s.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".