The Public Interest

The meaning of life—in the laboratory

Leon R. Kass

Winter 2002

THE readers of Aldous Huxley’s novel, like the inhabitants of the society it depicts, enter into the Brave New World through “a squat gray building ... the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre,” beginning, in fact, in the Fertilizing Room. There, three hundred fertilizers sit bent over their instruments, inspecting eggs, immersing them “in warm bouillon containing free-swimming spermatozoa,” and incubating the successfully fertilized eggs until they are ripe for bottling (or Bokanovskification). Here, most emphatically, life begins with fertilization—in the laboratory. Life in the laboratory is the gateway to the Brave New World. 

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