Study Guide

Jurassic Park Technology and Modernization

By Michael Crichton

Technology and Modernization

"I suppose it changes your field a bit?"

"It changes everything." (3.17.4-5)

Obviously, scientists have learned a lot about dinosaurs from studying their bones, but studying them alive and in the wild would teach them so much more. Even today, scientists are not so sure how dinosaurs actually behaved. The imagined technological advances in Jurassic Park would change entire scientific fields and disciplines.

"Zoos don't recreate nature," Malcolm said. "Let's be clear. Zoos take nature that already exist and modify it very slightly…" (3.18.26)

Malcolm points out that what Hammond is doing at Jurassic Park is fundamentally different from what zoos do. Hammond has used technology to create whole new creatures and place them into an alien environment.

"All the animals in Jurassic Park are female." (3.19.184)

This was Wu's means of preventing breeding and overpopulation. He's engineered the dinosaurs to be female. As we know, he blunders: his genetic engineering doesn't take into account the biological components he's using. Some of the animals become male because he's used frog DNA to supplement the dino DNA—and some frog DNA allows for sex changes. Oops.

"We don't want them to survive in the wild. So I've made them lysine dependent." (3.20.32)

Theoretically, if a dinosaur were to escape the island, it would soon die without lysine. But given how Wu goofed with the dinosaurs' sex, we're not confident that he's considered all the possible adaptations that could occur (in this fictional world, anyway). Wu's simple cause-and-effect thinking doesn't take into account the massive complexity of the life forms he's dealing with.

"I shall be extremely interested to see the control room now." (3.20.129)

Malcolm has calculated that Jurassic Park will fail, and he's already seen some red flags. He expects the control room will verify his fears… and he's right.

"We haven't re-created the past here. The past is gone. It can never be re-created. What we've done is reconstruct the past—or at least a version of the past. And I'm saying we can make a better version." (3.21.26)

To his credit, Wu recognizes that they're basically playing God on the island, constructing something new with materials from both the past and present. Not so much to his credit, he's perfectly cool playing God.

"But then the dinosaurs wouldn't be real."

"But they're not real now." (3.21.31-2)

Unlike Wu, Hammond has a romantic notion that the dinosaurs they've constructed are the real deal. Wu tries to explain to him that they're really not. They're alive, or course, and close to the long extinct animals, but they're not the same things that walked the earth millions of years ago. Even on a genetic level, they're not exactly the same.

… a CD-ROM; that was a laser disk player controlled by a computer. (3.23.10)

Sorry, we couldn't resist. How long until readers of Jurassic Park don't know what a CD-ROM is because the devices are extinct technology?

"We're dealing with living systems, after all. This is life, not computer models." (4.41.30)

Arnold also misses the fact that the life they've created on the island isn't real life—it's an artificial and technological system.

"The number of hours women devote to housework has not changed since 1930, despite all the advances. All the vacuum cleaners, washer-dryers, trash compactors, garbage disposals, wash-and-wear fabrics… Why does it still take as long to clean the house as it did in 1930?" (5.45.139)

If you've ever had a file not open, an app not work, or a computer load super slowly, you've probably wondered how much technology helps make our lives more convenient. Malcolm takes this thinking to the extreme. He really doesn't see much advancement from technological advances. Life kind of has its own rhythms that won't be messed with.