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Would having your own clone be like having an identical twin?

Author's Note
Robert Lamb, Senior Staff Writer
Robert Lamb, Senior Staff Writer 2009

While the science doesn't quite hold up to the standards set in fiction, I do love the idea of cloning as a multiplier of self. How would I get along with another Robert Lamb? How long would it take us to drift apart as individuals? Would we use the same toothbrush?

The scenario pops up all the time in science fiction, with noble heroes battling their villainous vat-grown doubles. Occasionally, you'll encounter a story that takes a more thoughtful or realistic approach. The 1979 film "Parts: The Clonus Horror" and Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel "Never Let Me Go" both examine the prospect of clone farms as factories for spare human parts. Could you possibly resurrect a person through cloning? To what lengths would you have to go to micromanage the events and conditions of his or her life?

In the realm of nonfiction, the "This American Life" episode "Reunited (And It Feels So Good)" features a fascinating account of one couple's attempt to bring back a beloved Brahman bull through cloning. It will make you weep. It will make you hold your groin in sympathetic agony. It will make you think long and hard about the limits of cloning as a resurrective technology.

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  • Bruder, Carl E.G. et al. "Phenotypically Concordant and Discordant Monozygotic Twins Display Different DNA Copy-Number-Variation Profiles." American Journal of Human Genetics. Feb. 14, 2008. (July 31, 2008)
  • "Clone' would feel individuality.'" BBC News. July 17, 2006. (July 31, 2008)
  • Hopkins, Patrick D. "Bad Copies: How Popular Media Represent Cloning as an Ethical Problem." Hastings Center Report. March 1998.
  • O'Connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Identical Twins Have Identical Fingerprints." The New York Times. Nov. 2, 2004. (July 31, 2008)
  • O'Connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Identical Twins Have Identical DNA." The New York Times. March 11, 2008. (July 31, 2008)
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