How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves
Author: George M. Church
Publisher: Hachette UK
A Harvard biologist and master inventor explores how new biotechnologies will enable us to bring species back from the dead, unlock vast supplies of renewable energy, and extend human life. In Regenesis, George Church and science writer Ed Regis explore the possibilities of the emerging field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, in which living organisms are selectively altered by modifying substantial portions of their genomes, allows for the creation of entirely new species of organisms. These technologies-far from the out-of-control nightmare depicted in science fiction-have the power to improve human and animal health, increase our intelligence, enhance our memory, and even extend our life span. A breathtaking look at the potential of this world-changing technology, Regenesis is nothing less than a guide to the future of life.
The Synthetic Biology Handbook explains the major goals of the field of synthetic biology and presents the technical details of the latest advances made in achieving those goals. Offering a comprehensive overview of the current areas of focus in synthetic biology, this handbook: Explores the standardisation of classic molecular bioscience approaches Addresses the societal context and potential impacts of synthetic biology Discusses the use of legacy systems as tools for new product development Examines the design and construction of de novo cells and genetic codes Describes computational methods for designing genes and gene networks Thus, the Synthetic Biology Handbook provides an accurate sense of the scope of synthetic biology today. The handbook also affords readers with an opportunity to scrutinize the underlying science and decide for themselves what aspects of synthetic biology are most valuable to their research and practice.
Sociological literature tends to view the social categories of race, class and gender as distinct and has avoided discussing how multiple intersections inform and contribute to experiences of injustice and inequity. This limited focus is clearly inadequate. Systemic Crises of Global Climate Change is an edited volume of 49 international, interdisciplinary contributions addressing global climate change (GCC) by intentionally engaging with the issues of race, gender, and class through an intersectional lens. The volume challenges and inspires readers to foster new theoretical and practical linkages and think beyond the traditional, and oftentimes reductionist, environmental science frame by examining issues within their turbulent political, cultural, and personal landscapes. Varied media and writing styles invite students and educators to reflexively engage different, yet complementary, approaches to GCC analysis and interpretation, mirroring the disparate voices and viewpoints within the field. The second volume, Emergent Possibilities for Sustainability will take a similar approach but will examine the possibilities for solutions, as in the quest for global sustainability. This book is a valuable resource for academics, researchers and both undergraduate and post-graduate students in the areas of Environmental Studies, Climate Change, Gender Studies and International studies as well as those seeking a more intersectional analysis of GCC.
Synthetic biology is one of the 21st century's fastest growing fields of research, as important for technology as for basic science. Building on traditional genetic engineering, which was restricted to changing one or two genes, synthetic biology uses multi-gene modules and pathways to make very significant changes to what cells can do. Synthetic biologists aim to have an impact in fields as diverse as drug manufacture, biofuel production, tackling pollution, and medical diagnostics. Further ahead, synthetic biology may even make possible the long-standing goal of creating new life from non-living starting materials. This Very Short Introduction provides a concise explanation of what synthetic biology is, and how it is beginning to affect many fields of technology. Jamie Davies also discusses the considerable controversies surrounding synthetic biology, from questions over the assumption that engineering concepts can be applied to living systems easily, to scepticism over the claims for commercial promise, fears that the dangers of engineering life are worse than its benefits, and concerns over whether humans should be designing living systems at all. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The World As We Find It and the World As We Create It
Author: Gregory E. Kaebnick
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Contemporary debates over issues as wide-ranging as the protection of wildernesses and endangered species, the spread of genetically modified organisms, the emergence of synthetic biology, and the advance of human enhancement, all of which seem to spin into deeper and more baffling questions with every change in the news cycle, often circle back to the same fundamental question: should there be limits to the human alteration of the natural world? A growing number of people view the human capacity to alter natural states of affairs -- from formerly wild spaces and things around us to crops and livestock to our own human nature -- as cause for moral alarm. That reaction raises a number of perplexing philosophical questions, however: Can we identify "natural" states of affairs at all? Does the idea of being morally concerned about the human relationship to nature make any sense? Should such a concern influence public policy and politics, or should government stay strenuously neutral on such matters? Through a study of moral debates about the environment, agricultural biotechnology, synthetic biology, and human enhancement, Gregory E. Kaebnick, a research scholar at The Hastings Center and editor of the Hastings Center Report, argues that concerns about the human alteration of nature can be legitimate and serious, but also that they are complex, contestable, and of limited political force. Kaebnick defends attempts to identify "natural" states of affairs by disentangling the nature/artifact distinction from metaphysical hoariness. Drawing on David Hume, he also defends moral standards for the human relationship to nature, arguing that they, and moral standards generally, should be understood as grounded in what Hume called the "passions." Yet what counts as "natural" can be delineated only roughly, he concludes, and moral standards for interaction with nature are less a matter of obligation than of ideals. Kaebnick also concludes, drawing on an interpretation of the liberal principle of neutrality, that government may support those standards but must be careful not to enforce them. Thus Kaebnick looks for a middle way on debates that have tended toward polarization. "As differences between nature and artifact become steadily less substantial, problems about preservation run to the core of how people can make sense of themselves, of each other, and of our shared world. Kaebnick's solutions are creative and compelling, theoretically elegant and politically practical. Providing distinctive ways forward, when much academic and policy discussion seems exhausted, his book demands wide attention. In return, it inspires hope." - James Nelson, Michigan State University
Redesigning the Future of Humanity--One Gene at a Time
Author: Juan Enriquez
“We are the primary drivers of change. We will directly and indirectly determine what lives, what dies, where, and when. We are in a different phase of evolution; the future of life is now in our hands.” Why are rates of conditions like autism, asthma, obesity, and allergies exploding at an unprecedented pace? Why are humans living longer, getting smarter, and having far fewer kids? How might your lifestyle affect your unborn children and grandchildren? How will gene-editing technologies like CRISPR steer the course of human evolution? If Darwin were alive today, how would he explain this new world? Could our progeny eventually become a different species—or several? In Evolving Ourselves, futurist Juan Enriquez and scientist Steve Gullans conduct a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. For example: • Globally, rates of obesity in humans nearly doubled between 1980 and 2014. What’s more, there’s evidence that other species, from pasture-fed horses to lab animals to house cats, are also getting fatter. • As reported by U.S. government agencies, the rate of autism rose by 131 percent from 2001 to 2010, an increase that cannot be attributed simply to increases in diagnosis rates. • Three hundred years ago, almost no one with a serious nut allergy lived long enough to reproduce. Today, despite an environment in which food allergies have increased by 50 percent in just over a decade, 17 million Americans who suffer from food allergies survive, thrive, and pass their genes and behaviors on to the next generation. • In the pre-Twinkie era, early humans had quite healthy mouths. As we began cooking, bathing, and using antibiotics, the bacteria in our bodies changed dramatically and became far less diverse. Today the consequences are evident not only in our teeth but throughout our bodies and minds. Though these harbingers of change are deeply unsettling, the authors argue that we are also in an epoch of tremendous opportunity. New advances in biotechnology help us mitigate the cruel forces of natural selection, from saving prematurely born babies to gene therapies for sickle cell anemia and other conditions. As technology like CRISPR enables us to take control of our genes, we will be able to alter our own species and many others—a good thing, given that our eventual survival will require space travel and colonization, enabled by a fundamental redesign of our bodies. Future humans could become great caretakers of the planet, as well as a more diverse, more resilient, gentler, and more intelligent species—but only if we make the right choices now. Intelligent, provocative, and optimistic, Evolving Ourselves is the ultimate guide to the next phase of life on Earth. From the Hardcover edition.
The living world runs on genomic software - what Dawn Field and Neil Davies call the 'biocode' - the sum of all DNA on Earth. In Biocode, they tell the story of a new age of scientific discovery: the growing global effort to read and map the biocode, and what that might mean for the future. The structure of DNA was identified in 1953, and the whole human genome was mapped by 2003. Since then the new field of genomics has mushroomed and is now operating on an industrial scale. Genomes can now be sequenced rapidly and increasingly cheaply. The genomes of large numbers of organisms from mammals to microbes, have been mapped. Getting your genome sequenced is becoming affordable for many. You too can check paternity, find out where your ancestors came from, or whether you are at risk of some diseases. Some check out the pedigree of their pets, while others turn genomes into art. A stray hair is enough to crudely reconstruct the face of the owner. From reading to constructing: the first steps to creating artificial life have already been taken. Some may find the rapidity of developments, and the potential for misuse, alarming. But they also open up unprecedented possibilities. The ability to read DNA has changed how we view ourselves and understand our place in nature. From the largest oceans, to the insides of our guts, we are able to explore the biosphere as never before, from the genome up. Sequencing technology has made the invisible world of microbes visible, and biodiversity genomics is revealing whole new worlds within us and without. The findings are transformational: we are all ecosystems now. Already the first efforts at 'barcoding' entire ecological communities and creating 'genomic observatories' have begun. The future, the authors argue, will involve biocoding the entire planet.
Inside The Digital Underground and the Battle For Our Connected World
Author: Marc Goodman
Publisher: Random House
Category: True Crime
* THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * * Future-proof yourself and your business by reading this book * Technological advances have benefited our world in immeasurable ways, but there is an ominous flipside. Criminals are often the earliest, and most innovative, adopters of technology and modern times have led to modern crimes. Today's criminals are stealing identities, draining online bank-accounts and wiping out computer servers. It's disturbingly easy to activate baby cam monitors to spy on families, pacemakers can be hacked to deliver a lethal jolt, and thieves are analyzing your social media in order to determine the best time for a home invasion. Meanwhile, 3D printers produce AK-47s, terrorists can download the recipe for the Ebola virus, and drug cartels are building drones. This is just the beginning of the tsunami of technological threats coming our way. In Future Crimes, Marc Goodman rips open his database of hundreds of real cases to give us front-row access to these impending perils. Reading like a sci-fi thriller, but based in startling fact, Goodman raises tough questions about the expanding role of technology in our lives. Future Crimes is a call to action for better security measures worldwide, but most importantly, will empower readers to protect themselves against these looming technological threats - before it's too late.
Lost, Overlooked, and Underappreciated Scientific Concepts Everyone Should Know
Author: John Brockman
Brilliant but overlooked ideas you must know, as revealed by today’s most innovative minds What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known? That is the question John Brockman, publisher of the acclaimed science salon Edge.org (“The world’s smartest website”—The Guardian), presented to 205 of the world’s most influential thinkers from across the intellectual spectrum—award-winning physicists, economists, psychologists, philosophers, novelists, artists, and more. From the origins of the universe to the order of everyday life, This Idea Is Brilliant takes readers on a tour of the bold, exciting, and underappreciated scientific concepts that will enrich every mind. Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel JARED DIAMOND on the lost brilliance of common sense * Oxford evolutionary biologist RICHARD DAWKINS on how The Genetic Book of the Dead could reconstruct ecological history * philosopher REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN on how to extend our grasp of reality beyond what we can see and touch * author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics CARLO ROVELLI on the interconnected fabric of information * Booker Prize–winning novelist IAN McEWAN on the Navier-Stokes equations, which govern everything from weather prediction to aircraft design and blood flow * cosmologist LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS on the hidden blessings of uncertainty * psychologist STEVEN PINKER on the fight against entropy * Nobel Prize–winning economist RICHARD THALER on the visionary power of the “premortem” * Grammy Award–winning musician BRIAN ENO on confirmation bias in the Internet age * advertising guru RORY SUTHERLAND on the world-changing power of sex appeal * Harvard physicist LISA RANDALL on the power of the obvious * Wired founding editor KEVIN KELLY on how to optimize your chances at success * Nobel Prize winner FRANK WILCZEK on the creative potential of complementarity * Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter JOHN MARKOFF on the synthetic metamaterials that soon will transform industry and technology * euroscientist SAM HARRIS on the lost art of intellectual honesty *Berkeley psychologist ALISON GOPNIK on the role of life history in the human story, and many others.