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Synthetic : how life got made

Author: Sophia Roosth
Publisher: Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, 2017.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"In the final years of the twentieth century, émigrés from engineering and computer science devoted themselves to biology and resolved that if the aim of biology is to understand life, then making life would yield better theories than experimentation. Armed with the latest biotechnology techniques, these scientists treated biological media as elements for design and manufacture: viruses named for computers,  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Sophia Roosth
ISBN: 9780226440323 022644032X 9780226440460 022644046X
OCLC Number: 952139113
Description: vi, 251 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Introduction: Analysis : synthesis --
Interlude 1: Plastic fantastic --
Life by design : evolution and creation tales in synthetic biology --
Interlude 2: From still life to more intense life --
The synthetic kingdom : transgenic kinship in the postgenomic era --
Interlude 3: To make an eye, a hair, a leaf --
The rebirth of the author : new life in legal and economic circuits --
Interlude 4: Much more than human --
Biotechnical agnosticism : fragmented life and labor among the machines --
Interlude 5: What comes before --
Life makes itself at home : the rise of biohacking as political action --
Interlude 6: Life embryonic and prophetic --
Latter-day Lazarus : biological salvage and species revival --
Conclusion --
Appendix A: A note on method.
Responsibility: Sophia Roosth.

Abstract:

"In the final years of the twentieth century, émigrés from engineering and computer science devoted themselves to biology and resolved that if the aim of biology is to understand life, then making life would yield better theories than experimentation. Armed with the latest biotechnology techniques, these scientists treated biological media as elements for design and manufacture: viruses named for computers, bacterial genomes encoding passages from James Joyce, chimeric yeast buckling under the metabolic strain of genes harvested from wormwood, petunias, and microbes from Icelandic thermal pools. In Synthetic: How Life Got Made, cultural anthropologist Sophia Roosth reveals how synthetic biologists make new living things in order to understand better how life works. The first book-length ethnographic study of this discipline, Synthetic documents the social, cultural, rhetorical, economic, and imaginative transformations biology has undergone in the post-genomic age. Roosth traces this new science from its origins at MIT to start-ups, laboratories, conferences, and hackers' garages across the United States--even to contemporary efforts to resurrect extinct species. Her careful research reveals that rather than opening up a limitless new field, these biologists' own experimental tactics circularly determine the biological features, theories, and limits they fasten upon. Exploring the life sciences emblematic of our time, Synthetic tells the origin story of the astonishing claim that biological making fosters biological knowing"--The publisher.

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"For all the rigour that goes into their making, science and technology are still things that human beings do, and as Roosth reminds us, humans are messy. We have opinions, passions and biases; we Read more...

 
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