1. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Having issues describing this...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Daydream, May 27, 2013.

    Hey guys!

    Was wondering if you could help me describe a fetus being grown in a lab. I've been reading up on it, but having issues with how to describe it. Basically in terms of what it's grown in and what it would look like.

    I realise this is probably a slightly odd request but if anyone can help than that would be awesome!

    Thanks!
     
  2. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Okay this is just about the most touchy not to mention technically difficult request for help with doing the very thing that one must be able to do on their own if one wishes to be a writer, that I have seen so far on this site.

    Daydream, you had better do real actual research on this if you want to write about it. The way you approach and handle the delicacies of this writing challenge will define your ability as a writer.
     
  3. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Don't know because as far as I know it hasn't happened yet. Even so called test tube babies are grown in someone's womb. An embryo grown to maturation in an artificial environment would be tricky thing. The foetus needs to be monitored, splashed with the required hormones at the right time, moved about at a certain rate, exposed to particular stimuli eg voices and heartbeats, fed the right food and right oxygen levels and have wastes removed through the umbilical cord etc. Even a slight change could cause significant problems in the embryo's development.

    Best advice I can give for your story is to look to actual footage / reports / papers on the actual development of human foetuses in parents, and work from there.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  4. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    Well, in terms of what an artificial womb would look like, you can use your imagination. It doesn't have to look like a real uterus, though structure should implicate function. I would research the necessary components you'd need to house and support a growing baby, and how other medical devices which functionally replace organs look, like pacemaker vs heart or dialysis machine vs kidneys. There's work being done on other artificial organs such as blood and liver. You could investigate problems that scientists encountered with these projects which might also be important to consider for your womb.
     
  5. doghouse
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    doghouse Member

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    Who is the viewpoint character?

    This may determine the level of detail. If, (say) the viewpoint character is the professor that designed the process -- then describing it would seem pointless. He knows it, why would he describe it?

    Is the process actually important to the story?

    If the story is about that process, sure, I guess you would. But, if it was about the social/political ramifications of the process or technology, then I don't think a detailed description is required -- as it wouldn't be the focus of the story. Yeah?

    And that's it, really. What is the intention of your work? Its focus?

    Just a thought or two.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok, the thing you want to do is create latticework/scaffolding upon which you will either grow a functioning uterus, or you'll 3d print it (they've grown a functioning urinary bladder in this way, using latticework and stem cells).

    Once you have a functioning uterus, hooked up to an artificial heart/ lung machine that circulates human amount of blood (about 4 litres or so) so the foetus can "live", you implant an artificially fertilized egg into the lab uterus, much the same you would into a woman's uterus.

    Read up on human embryology, there are diagrams that explain how a baby develops from a one cell stage to full human being. Basically, the fertilised egg multiplies, depending on the stage it has different names (blastula etc) then, the cells start migrating and forming rudimentary structures, such as a heart and neural tube. Beating of the heart at 8 weeks could be a joyful experience for the scientist in charge, because that's when the baby is technically alive. As the days and weeks progress, different organs and systems are created, and they change spatial orientation as the foetus matures, to eventually form no defects. But in the process, defects are possible, heart defect, neural tube defects (spina bifida etc), defects of limbs, defects of gastrointestinal system etc. Sometimes genes are responsible, sometimes environment and sometimes nature just makes a mistake. In the lab, I imagine, these might be minimised.

    Like someone above said, the artificial blood will have to have exact amounts of hormones at exact times, to facilitate the entire process, but that wouldn't be very hard because we already know a lot about that side of things.

    However, it's been shown that during gestation, exchange of genes occurs between mother and baby, and also, with subsequent pregnancies, siblings might get a bit of previous suibling's genes. This is minute but could be very important for the sense of kinship that exists amongst blood relatives. Also, mother talks to the child, the child senses her hormones, hears music, conversation, feels muscles contracting as mother walks and works. All this could be simulated, but it could also be missing, giving rise to an odd human being, who has different personality and perhaps even different functioning limbic system etc. because they feel no kinship to another human being. You could have a lot of fun with his, perhpas if the lab environment is sterile and quiet, the child could be born with psychopathic tendencies. Or the opposite - if multiple children were developed from the same lab uterus, they could be feeling kinship with each other? Or they might become extreme empaths because their emotions are fresh and unstimulated. Genetic manipulation as well as controlling imprinting and other processes that occur during gestation, these people could be bred for specific functions or to have a specific type of genius, who knows, it would be up to you to imagine what these babies would be like once they are born.

    Because this has been discussed and researched intensively for decades, pretty much most doctors could come up with a feasible fictional way to do this, you definitely want to explain the process and put in much detail, because if you don't a lot of readers would find that objectionable. If you don't want to have to describe it, then better not have any scientist POV's, because scientists love describing minutiae of their work to anyone who'll listen ;)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Is your problem what to describe, or how to describe it?

    If the former, you need to research in vitro fertilization and gestation.

    If the latter, you may need to work on your vocabulary.

    Either way, you need to exercise your own imagination. No one else can do this for you. Stick with it, try out a few passages, but don't count on other people to come up with it for you. That won't make you a better writer; quite the contrary. Practice builds skill and confidence.
     
  9. AuroraJenkins
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    Aldous Huxley described the exact same thing as you're trying to do in his book, "Brave New World"... Of course, he wrote it a while ago, so it's a bit dated and not current with new science/technology, but you could read Brave New World if you just want a general idea. (Don't copy too much, though...) The description of the fetuses is in one of the early chapters. Possibly even the first chapter, I think.

    EDIT: Here's a link to what I'm taking about.
     
  10. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for all the help guys! It's probably a bit of both. I need to research this area more and work on my vocabulary. My main issue was where to start. As Nee said this is a touchy subject with little information. I even asked in a bookstore if they had anything on it and the guy gave me a look as though I'd asked him to burn down the bookstore lol. Personally I would love to speak to someone who knows a lot about genetic engineering, transhumanism, etc. This is my first attempt at a proper novel (I only have experience with short stories) so describing things like this is proving to be a challenge! In terms of genetic engineering I have it mostly set out, but it's finer details like this that I'm having issues describing.

    So...I'll check out the links you guys gave me and keep you updated! This is a fairly ambitious novel and subject for a rookie writer so it's going to be an interesting road ahead!
     
  11. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Looks like Jazzabel should be the one to write this story :D
     
  12. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lol yeah I saw...Thanks so much! You've given me a great starting point! ;)
     
  13. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks again for all the replies! I've finally found where to properly start looking; Ectogenesis in this case. A very controversial subject. Seems the more controversial the subject is the more interest I have in it...
     

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