Review by Alexandra Witze
Reading the first book penned by Church, a Harvard biologist and polymath, is like falling down a rabbit hole straight into his fermenting brain.
Church’s wide-ranging career includes developing novel methods for reading the genetic instruction manual, or genome, of creatures from bacteria to humans. Now he focuses on synthesizing those instructions from scratch. Church doesn’t just think that the new field of synthetic biology (see Page 22) will change your life. He claims it will also change your world and notion of your place within it.
Why not, after all, synthesize a Neandertal? Church and his coauthor explore the Neandertal genome and how modern humans could be used as a template to re-create one — should society be willing to accept building a Neandertal child in the laboratory. Or how about pushing into transhumanism, the concept that genes could be en