Synthetic: How Life Got Made

Paperback | March 6, 2017

bySophia Roosth

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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.

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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 me...

Sophia Roosth is the Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor for history of science at Harvard University.  

other books by Sophia Roosth

Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond
Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology...

Kobo ebook|Oct 27 2015

$27.29 online$35.37list price(save 22%)
Synthetic: How Life Got Made
Synthetic: How Life Got Made

Hardcover|Mar 6 2017

$136.50

Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:March 6, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022644046X

ISBN - 13:9780226440460

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“This is stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing reading, which combines ethnographic richness with sophisticated theoretical reflection. Every chapter of Roosth’s book will challenge you to think about the topic of synthetic biology in new and refreshing ways.”