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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders. They're watching their feet: provable mistakes are bad for them. We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes."
- Larry Niven

Birthing egg  
  A chamber for in vitro fertilization (IVF), combining the DNA of two people to produce a child, without all the usual bother.  

Another unique and interesting concept from this story. At present (2003), it is not possible to go from ovum and sperm through fetus to child in an artificial environment. IVF can result in a fertilized egg, but that egg must then be implanted in a woman's womb. In this story, ovum and sperm are not even necessary; the necessary DNA is supplied by the partners in the form of blood, sputum or other samples.

A new window opened on John's windshield. IT showed the large clear birthing egg. The egg had a fine clear skin of pseudodiamond. The fluid inside was a mix of dark red blood and yellow nutrient sap. Denise had had the egg custom-made. She and John both put blood samples into it to seed the fluid. That kept their consciences clear and kept her body in shape.

The pink fetus kicked against the side of the bloody egg and turned itself slightly.

From Nanotime, by Bart Kosko.
Published by Avon Books in 1987
Additional resources -

In the novel, the use of the birthing egg is an interesting way to add to the sense of psychological distance between the characters in this near future Earth. In this highly technological society, you get the impression that (for the protagonist of the novel) it is difficult to get close to other people. The very notion of "person" is challenged by the chiphead technology in use.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Nanotime
  More Ideas and Technology by Bart Kosko
  Tech news articles related to Nanotime
  Tech news articles related to works by Bart Kosko

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