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This compelling new book covers the most important revolution since Darwin—how cutting-edge genetic science will soon allow us to speed up and transform our own evolution, and the moral choices we must make as we improve, alter, and even duplicate ourselves.

The fact is that, until now, human evolution has been exceedingly slow. But there’s about to be a profound change in this process, with a perfect storm of revolutions in the fields of genetic modification, stem cells, DNA sequencing, and embryo manipulation. The result is that it will soon be possible for parents to consciously choose the genes of their children, defining their intelligence, appearance, athletic ability, and health. The ramifications could be enormous, with each generation smarter, more technologically proficient, and better able to design the genes of their offspring. Where will this evolution on steroids take us?

Designer Genes presents a balanced view, describing the underlying science in accessible terms and discussing the pros and cons of implementing this new technology. A leading expert in the field, Steven Potter covers a broad range of topics on this challenging subject, presenting fascinating details of case histories and ongoing discoveries: 
 
• the true story of “Adam,” who as an early embryo was genetically selected to save his sickly sister
• the surprising human genome—and DNA sequence comparisons across species
• dogs, an informative example of human-driven evolution
• the sequencing revolution, with the price of determining a person’s complete DNA sequence becoming much more affordable
• genetic diseases and what is being discovered about them every day
• stem cells and their almost magical powers
 
Designer Genes also investigates such controversial questions as: When is an embryo a person? Are we smart enough to pick optimal gene combinations? What will the government’s role be?
Science has brought us an astonishing understanding of the genetic basis of life, as well as potent new power to guide the genetic destiny of humanity. What will we do next?


From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Sep 14, 2010
ISBN: 9781588369987
List price: $12.99
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Thought-provoking analysis of where we are currently with genetic engineering and where we could conceivably be in the near-term future. Disregards flora almost completely and focuses on fauna, specifically mammals. Cogent explanations of stem cells, and a lovely, lovely passage about ensoulment that I feel compelled to quote at length because there's nothing I like more than scientists talking about souls:

"Then there is the question of the soul. It could be argued that while the fertilized egg has no brain, it nevertheless has a soul, and is therefore a person. But this proposition also raises some problems. When the zygote's single cell divides to make two cells, we know that each of these is capable of making a person. And indeed this is true through the eight-cell stage, through the accidental splitting of a single early embryo into two or more parts, which then each proceed to make a complete individual- identical twins, triplets, and so on. If the early human embryo has one soul, and then the embryo splits, do the twins, triplets, and such only receive a piece of the soul? Do they share a soul? Or do new souls enter at this later stage to fill the gap, the shortage of souls? And conversely, what happens when two early embryos fuse together to form one chimera? Do people that are chimeras have multiple souls? Or does one soul now leave, because of a soul excess?"

This is but a snippet of an extended analysis of when humans become 'human', how inconsistent the populace's feelings about stem cells really are (okay for IVF, for instance...) and how a little logic really lights up a dark place.

Written in fairly nonscientific language, and to my eye very balanced. Recommended.read more
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Reviews

Thought-provoking analysis of where we are currently with genetic engineering and where we could conceivably be in the near-term future. Disregards flora almost completely and focuses on fauna, specifically mammals. Cogent explanations of stem cells, and a lovely, lovely passage about ensoulment that I feel compelled to quote at length because there's nothing I like more than scientists talking about souls:

"Then there is the question of the soul. It could be argued that while the fertilized egg has no brain, it nevertheless has a soul, and is therefore a person. But this proposition also raises some problems. When the zygote's single cell divides to make two cells, we know that each of these is capable of making a person. And indeed this is true through the eight-cell stage, through the accidental splitting of a single early embryo into two or more parts, which then each proceed to make a complete individual- identical twins, triplets, and so on. If the early human embryo has one soul, and then the embryo splits, do the twins, triplets, and such only receive a piece of the soul? Do they share a soul? Or do new souls enter at this later stage to fill the gap, the shortage of souls? And conversely, what happens when two early embryos fuse together to form one chimera? Do people that are chimeras have multiple souls? Or does one soul now leave, because of a soul excess?"

This is but a snippet of an extended analysis of when humans become 'human', how inconsistent the populace's feelings about stem cells really are (okay for IVF, for instance...) and how a little logic really lights up a dark place.

Written in fairly nonscientific language, and to my eye very balanced. Recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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