Jean Kazez has kind of a fun quiz here. (Fun until you find yourself in the age category 41-60, that is. Can't I be 26-45 instead?)
I thought of the meaning of life when I read Matt Pianalto's post on transgenic animals too. Falling-over turkeys bred to be all breast meat seem like a crime against nature to me, a kind of blasphemy, and the same goes for oncomice. But would finding a cure for cancer justify that kind of crime? I'm inclined to say No, partly because a crime is a crime, and partly because people who die of cancer will still die of something else even if we do cure cancer. But I realize that this is callous, and I would almost certainly change my tune if cancer hit closer to home. Really I think you would need to know the meaning of life to be able to answer such a question with any confidence. (I would have posted this as a comment on Matt's blog but it seems too unhelpful to be worth posting there.)
And I thought of it another time recently when a friend of mine posted the uncharacteristic (for him) Facebook status: "What's the point?" I think he probably just meant why work hard on research if journals don't recognize good work when they see it?, or why teach in innovative ways if no one appreciates your efforts? But it sounded gloomier than that. To my surprise I found myself thinking, "Because we all die in the end." This wasn't just black humor but an expression of the idea that we are all, so to speak, in the same boat, and that boat is the Titanic. So we may as well be nice to each other while we sink. About the only things that seem to make sense are love or kindness and smelling the roses while you can. But I don't think this is really what I believe, or not the whole of it anyway. Those roses really do smell good--they aren't just a consolation. And some people aren't too bad either.