Monday, October 25, 2010

Michael Crichton Tributes – Newspapers – Part 2

We continue our series of tributes to Michael Crichton with more highlights from newspapers.

The Seer of Science
By Jim Slotek, Toronto Sun, November 6, 2008

As Tom Clancy is to war, Michael Crichton was to science -- almost transcendant in his knowledge of the state-of-the-art, and his ability to transform it into reader-friendly potboiler thrillers.

Case in point: In 1986, an eccentric scientist/surfer named Kary Mullis perfected an idea he'd come up with (reputedly while on LSD) -- polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method of replicating tiny amounts of DNA into large amounts.

From DNA fingerprinting to cloning, PCR has changed the world. But Crichton was onto PCR as material for a horror story immediately.

His novel Jurassic Park -- in which PCR is used to extract dinosaur DNA from mosquitos fossilized in amber -- was released in 1990. Mullis was awarded a Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1993, just as Steven Spielberg's movie version of Jurassic Park was breaking box-office records.

If Crichton had been any more on top of Mullis' discovery, he'd have received the Nobel himself.

Mourning a Techno-Prophet
by Kelly McParland, National Post, November 7, 2008

President Kennedy once addressed a White House reception for Nobel laureates with the quip, "Gentlemen, this may be the widest gathering of talent that the White House has ever seen -- with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined here alone." By a similar token, Michael Crichton's unexpected death from cancer on Tuesday takes away a man of so many distinctions that it would almost take a plane crash to match the loss…

It is often forgotten that Crichton did believe in global warming on empirical grounds; it was our confidence that we understand its causes, and the right course of corrective action, that stirred him to fury….

Would that he had lived longer so that he could go on demanding intellectual honesty -- a virtue that can never have enough defenders.

The Crichton factor
By Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, November 7, 2008
(obtained through Lexis Nexis, no link)

Crichton had pioneered the use of CGI in Westworld in 1973, in Brynner's robotic point-of-view shots. His pivotal role in the development of the CGI art cannot be underestimated.

Another area in which he was a pioneer was in raising our awareness of medical and scientific issues - drawing on his background in the field, Doctor Crichton arguably did more to raise our awareness of issues including cloning and global warming than any other populist fiction writer of the 20th century….

Although his work often proved controversial, particularly among the scientific community and environmental activists, he never tired of his quest to make complex scientific arguments understandable by the masses.

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