“Analysis: Synthesis” first surveys the current landscape of American synthetic biology: its research centers, funding sources, commercial applications, and notable projects. The chapter traces the historical precursors of synthetic biology in the life sciences from the early nineteenth century to now, and differentiates synthetic biology’s project from earlier efforts to make or manipulate organisms in laboratories, whether in the service of experimental biology or biotechnology. The chapter argues that in the wake of the Human Genome Project, twenty-fist century molecular biology is no longer guided by an overarching theory, whether hypothetical, experimental, or otherwise. Molecular biology, bioinformatics, and genomics now swim in a torrent more noise than signal: genomes sequenced, protein structures uploaded, and most of the rest databased, tabulated, and released online. The turning point presaged by what some call “the postgenomic era” has practical consequences, not just for which living things now occupy our world but also for how some biologists understand what “life itself” is. Synthetic biologists responded to this state of affairs by claiming that if all the data collected, collated, coaxed, and tended by experimental inquiry are not enough, then biological manufacture will serve as life’s new “theory machine.”
Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.