Google Trends Search Results for CRISPR
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
– Genesis, 3:5
Sometimes science surprises you. Many a time science seems like a slowly sluggish river, inexorable in its progress, but languid nonetheless, beset by turns and twists which delay its progress. Over the last year though I’ve been hearing people whisper in excited tones about something new, something special. And it’s about CRISPR. This may indeed be a world-turned-upside-down moment, and CRISPR may finally cash out the promise that biological science is going to result in a flowering of engineering analogous to what occurred during physics’ ‘atomic age.’
And now the excitement is percolating into the public spaces of the middle-brow media. The New York Times has now finally put CRISPR on the radar of the broader culture, in a rather long article, A Powerful New Way to Edit DNA. As they they, “read the whole thing,” but key in on this quote:
“It just completely changes the landscape,” Dr. Doudna said. Berkeley scientists used to farm out that work to specialized laboratories or companies. Now, she said, “people are able to make mice in their own labs.”
No, it complete creates a landscape. Theory becomes concrete, and the speculations and worries of bioethicists are challenged by the real present, not some vague future. Now a biologist can state, I am become life, creator of worlds. Whereas genetic engineering up to the present has been an almost artisanal act, CRISPR opens up the window into the possibilities of scalable industrialization. No doubt there will be Neo-Luddites demanding we smash the looms, but they will fail, as they always have.