The Genetic Revolution

New technology enables us to improve on nature. How far should we go?

Dissolved in a test tube, the essence of life is a clear liquid. To the naked eye it looks just like water. But when it is stirred, the "water" turns out - to be as sticky as molasses, clinging to a glass rod and forming long, hair- thin threads. "You get the feeling this is really different stuff," says Dr. Francis Collins in his molecular-biology laboratory at the National Institutes of Health. Collins heads a mammoth effort to catalog the library of biological data locked in those threads, a challenge he compares, not inaccurately, with splitting the atom or going to...

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