Clone: The Road to Dolly and the Path Aheadby Gina Kolata
The birth of Dolly the world's first clone placed in our hands the secret of creation. Few discoveries have so altered our notion of what it means to be human, or presented such a Gordian knot of ethical, spiritual, and scientific questions. Noted science journalist Gina Kolata broke the news nationally in The New York Times and was the/b>
The birth of Dolly the world's first clone placed in our hands the secret of creation. Few discoveries have so altered our notion of what it means to be human, or presented such a Gordian knot of ethical, spiritual, and scientific questions. Noted science journalist Gina Kolata broke the news nationally in The New York Times and was the first reporter to speak with Dr. Ian Wilmut, the embryologist who cloned Dolly. Now Kolata reveals the story behind Dolly, interweaving the social and cultural tales of our fear and fascination with cloning, reaching back nearly a century, with the riveting scientific accountof how a clone came to be and the mind-boggling questions Dolly presents for our future.
Clone is a compelling blend of scientific suspense, dreams dashed, and frauds exposed, with provocative philosophical questions and an astute assessment of why Dolly's birth was only possible now. Like The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Lucy, and Chaos, this book gives us a window on history in the making, and an understanding of its profound effect on our lives.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt
Many people wonder if this is a miracle for which we can
thank God, or an ominous new way to play God ourselves.
Princeton Theological Seminary
On a soft summer night, July 5, 1996, at 5:00 P.M., the most famous lamb in history entered the world, head and forelegs first. She was born in a shed, just down the road from the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotland, where she was created. And yet her creator, Ian Wilmut, a quiet, balding fifty-two-year-old embryologist, does not remember where he was when he heard that the lamb, named Dolly, was born. He does not even recall getting a telephone call from John Bracken, a scientist who had monitored the pregnancy of the sheep that gave birth to Dolly, saying that Dolly was alive and healthy and weighed 6.6 kilograms, or 14.5 pounds.
It was a moment of remarkable insouciance. No one broke open champagne. No one took pictures. Only a few staff members from the institute and a local veterinarian who attended the birth were present. Yet Dolly, a fluffy creature with grayish-white fleece and a snow-white face, who looked for all the world like hundreds of other lambs that dot the rolling hills of Scotland, was soon to change the world.
When the time comes to write the history of our age, this quiet birth, the creation of this little lamb, will stand out. The events that change history are few and unpredictable. In the twentieth century, there was the discovery of quantum theory, the revolutionary finding by physicists that the normal rules of the visible world do not apply in the realm of the atom. There was Einstein's theory of general relativity, saying that space and time can be warped. There was thesplitting of the atom, with its promise of good and evil. There was the often-overlooked theorem of mathematician Kurt Godel, which said that there are truths that are unknowable, theorems that can be neither proved nor disproved. There was the development of computers that transformed Western society.
In biology and medicine, there was the discovery of penicillin in the 1940s, and there was James Watson and Francis Crick's announcement, in 1953, that they had found the structure of DNA, the genetic blueprint. There was the conquest of smallpox that wiped the ancient scourge from the face of the earth, and the discovery of a vaccine that could prevent the tragedy of polio. In the 1980s, there was the onslaught of AIDS, which taught us that plagues can afflict us still.
In politics, there were the world wars, the rise and fall of communism, and the Great Depression. There is the economic rise of Asia in the latter part of the century, and the ever-shifting balance of the world's powers.
But events that alter our very notion of what it means to be human are few and scattered over the centuries. The birth of Dolly is one of them. "Analogies to Copernicus, to Darwin, to Freud, are appropriate," said Alan Weisbard, a professor of law and medical ethics at the University of Wisconsin. The world is a different place now that she is born.
Dolly is a clone. She was created not out of the union of a sperm and an egg but out of the genetic material from an udder cell of a six-year-old sheep. Wilmut fused the udder cell with an egg from another sheep, after first removing all genetic material from the egg. The udder cell's genes took up residence in the egg and directed it to grow and develop. The result was Dolly, the identical twin of the original sheep that provided the udder cells, but an identical twin born six years later.
Copyright ©1998 by Gina Kolata.
Meet the Author
Gina Kolata is an award-winning senior writer for the New York Times. The winner of numerous writing awards, she has authored several books, including the bestselling Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It. Her latest book is Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss—and the Myths and Realities of Dieting.
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