Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 10/2/2012
  • Publisher: Perseus Books Group
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Imagine a future in which human beings have become immune to all viruses, in which bacteria can custom-produce everyday items, like a drinking cup, or generate enough electricity to end oil dependency. Building a house would entail no more work than planting a seed in the ground. These scenarios may seem far-fetched, but pioneering geneticist George Church and science writer Ed Regis show that synthetic biology is bringing us ever closer to making such visions a reality. In Regenesis, Church and Regis explorethe possibilities-and perils-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. Until now, nature has been the exclusive arbiter of life, death, and evolution; with synthetic biology, we now have the potential to write our own biological future. Indeed, as Church and Regis show, it even enables us to revisit crucial points in the evolution of life and, through synthetic biological techniques, choose different paths from those nature originally took. Such exploits will involve far more than just microbial tinkering. Full-blown genomic engineering will make possible incredible feats, from resurrecting woolly mammoths and other extinct organisms to creating mirror life forms with a molecular structure the opposite of our own. 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, Regenesisis nothing less than a guide to the future of life.

Table of Contents

Prologue: From Bioplastics to H. Sapiens 2.0p. 1
-3,800 Myr, Late Hadean: At the Inorganic/Organic Interfacep. 15
-3,500 Myr, Archean: Reading the Most Ancient Texts and the Future of Living Softwarep. 37
-500 Myr, Cambrian: The Mirror World and the Explosion of Diversity. How Fast can Evolution Go and How Diverse Can It Be?p. 55
-360 Myr, Carboniferous: "The Best Substitute for Petroleum is Petroleum"p. 91
-60 Myr, Paleocene: Emergence of Mammalian Immune System. Solving the Health Care Crisis Through Genome Engineeringp. 109
-30,000 yr, Pleistocene Park: Engineering Extinct Genomesp. 133
-10,000 yr, Neolithic: Industrial Revolutions. The Agricultural Revolution and Synthetic Genomics. The BioFab Manifestop. 151
-100 yr, Anthropocene: The Third Industrial Revolution. iGEMp. 179
-1 yr, Holocene: From Personal Genomes to Immortal Human Componentsp. 203
Epigenetic Epilogue: +1 yr, The End of the Beginning, Transhumanism, and the Panspermia Era: Societal Risks and Countermeasuresp. 225
Acknowledgmentsp. 255
Selected Referencesp. 259
Illustration Sourcesp. 267
Notes: On Encoding This Book into DNAp. 269
Indexp. 273
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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