designing human practices an experiment with synthetic biology

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Designing Human Practices

Author : Paul Rabinow
ISBN : 9780226703138
Genre : Science
File Size : 66. 15 MB
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In 2006 anthropologists Paul Rabinow and Gaymon Bennett set out to rethink the role that human sciences play in biological research, creating the Human Practices division of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center—a facility established to create design standards for the engineering of new enzymes, genetic circuits, cells, and other biological entities—to formulate a new approach to the ethical, security, and philosophical considerations of controversial biological work. They sought not simply to act as watchdogs but to integrate the biosciences with their own discipline in a more fundamentally interdependent way, inventing a new, dynamic, and experimental anthropology that they could bring to bear on the center’s biological research. Designing Human Practices is a detailed account of this anthropological experiment and, ultimately, its rejection. It provides new insights into the possibilities and limitations of collaboration, and diagnoses the micro-politics which effectively constrained the potential for mutual scientific flourishing. Synthesizing multiple disciplines, including biology, genetics, anthropology, and philosophy, alongside a thorough examination of funding entities such as the National Science Foundation, Designing Human Practices pushes the social study of science into new and provocative territory, utilizing a real-world experience as a springboard for timely reflections on how the human and life sciences can and should transform each other.

A Machine To Make A Future

Author : Paul Rabinow
ISBN : 9781400849666
Genre : Social Science
File Size : 60. 12 MB
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A Machine to Make a Future represents a remarkably original look at the present and possible future of biotechnology research in the wake of the mapping of the human genome. The central tenet of Celera Diagnostics--the California biotech company whose formative work during 2003 is the focus of the book--is that the emergent knowledge about the genome, with its profound implications for human health, can now be turned into a powerful diagnostic apparatus--one that will yield breakthrough diagnostic and therapeutic products (and, potentially, profit). Celera's efforts--assuming they succeed--may fundamentally reshape the fabric of how health and health care are understood, practiced, and managed. Presenting a series of interviews with all of the key players in Celera Diagnostics, Paul Rabinow and Talia Dan-Cohen open a fascinating window on the complexity of corporate scientific innovation. This marks a radical departure from other books on the biotech industry by chronicling the vicissitudes of a project during a finite time period, in the words of the actors themselves. Ultimately, the authors conclude, Celera Diagnostics is engaged in a future characterized not by geniuses and their celebrated discoveries but by a largely anonymous and widely distributed profusion of data and results--a "machine to make a future." In their new afterword, Rabinow and Dan-Cohen revisit Celera Diagnostics as its mighty machine grinds along, wondering, along with the scientists, "what constitutes success and what constitutes failure?" The pathos of the situation turns on how one poses the question as much as how one answers it.

Making Pcr

Author : Paul Rabinow
ISBN : 9780226216874
Genre : Science
File Size : 41. 88 MB
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Making PCR is the fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of the invention of one of the most significant biotech discoveries in our time—the polymerase chain reaction. Transforming the practice and potential of molecular biology, PCR extends scientists' ability to identify and manipulate genetic materials and accurately reproduces millions of copies of a given segment in a short period of time. It makes abundant what was once scarce—the genetic material required for experimentation. Making PCR explores the culture of biotechnology as it emerged at Certus Corporation during the 1980s and focuses on its distinctive configuration of scientific, technical, social, economic, political, and legal elements, each of which had its own separate trajectory over the preceding decade. The book contains interviews with the remarkable cast of characters who made PCR, including Kary Mullin, the maverick who received the Nobel prize for "discovering" it, as well as the team of young scientists and the company's business leaders. This book shows how a contingently assembled practice emerged, composed of distinctive subjects, the site where they worked, and the object they invented. "Paul Rabinow paints a . . . picture of the process of discovery in Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology [and] teases out every possible detail. . . . Makes for an intriguing read that raises many questions about our understanding of the twisting process of discovery itself."—David Bradley, New Scientist "Rabinow's book belongs to a burgeoning genre: ethnographic studies of what scientists actually do in the lab. . . . A bold move."—Daniel Zalewski, Lingua Franca "[Making PCR is] exotic territory, biomedical research, explored. . . . Rabinow describes a dance: the immigration and repatriation of scientists to and from the academic and business worlds."—Nancy Maull, New York Times Book Review

Perturbing The Organism

Author : Herbert Weiner
ISBN : 0226890414
Genre : Medical
File Size : 49. 19 MB
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The concept of stress pervades modern society, with relief from it promised on everything from vitamin to vacation packages. Yet there exists no generally accepted classification of stressful experience, nor is the concept itself universally considered a valid subject for research. This authoritative work is the first to analyze critically the entire range of research and theory on stress in animals and humans, from the earliest studies in the 1930s up to the present day. Herbert Weiner not only documents the many empirical and conceptual advances of recent years, but also supplies a new working definition and classification of stressful experience. He describes the integrated, organismic responses to stressful environmental changes, tasks, and challenges in terms of functional adaptation: the failure of these responses results in injury, ill-health, disease, and death. To examine the coordination between behavior and bodily functions, Weiner reviews current knowledge on how stressful experiences also alter biobehavioral rhythms. Providing a useful, integrative concept of stress rooted in an understanding of the organism as an interactive communication system composed of many subsystems, Perturbing the Organism will interest a wide range of clinicians and researchers throughout the medical and behavioral sciences. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Mental Health and Development

Synthetic Aesthetics

Author : Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
ISBN : 9780262321617
Genre : Science
File Size : 29. 5 MB
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Synthetic biology manipulates the stuff of life. For synthetic biologists, living matter is programmable material. In search of carbon-neutral fuels, sustainable manufacturing techniques, and innovative drugs, these researchers aim to redesign existing organisms and even construct completely novel biological entities. Some synthetic biologists see themselves as designers, inventing new products and applications. But if biology is viewed as a malleable, engineerable, designable medium, what is the role of design and how will its values apply?In this book, synthetic biologists, artists, designers, and social scientists investigate synthetic biology and design. After chapters that introduce the science and set the terms of the discussion, the book follows six boundary-crossing collaborations between artists and designers and synthetic biologists from around the world, helping us understand what it might mean to 'design nature.' These collaborations have resulted in biological computers that calculate form; speculative packaging that builds its own contents; algae that feeds on circuit boards; and a sampling of human cheeses. They raise intriguing questions about the scientific process, the delegation of creativity, our relationship to designed matter, and, the importance of critical engagement. Should these projects be considered art, design, synthetic biology, or something else altogether?Synthetic biology is driven by its potential; some of these projects are fictions, beyond the current capabilities of the technology. Yet even as fictions, they help illuminate, question, and even shape the future of the field.

The Long And The Short Of It

Author : Jonathan Silvertown
ISBN : 9780226072104
Genre : Science
File Size : 47. 79 MB
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Everything that lives will die. That’s the fundamental fact of life. But not everyone dies at the same age: people vary wildly in their patterns of aging and their life spans—and that variation is nothing compared to what’s found in other animal and plant species. A giant fungus found in Michigan has been alive since the Ice Age, while a dragonfly lives but four months, a mayfly half an hour. What accounts for these variations—and what can we learn from them that might help us understand, or better manage, our own aging? With The Long and the Short of It, biologist and writer Jonathan Silvertown offers readers a witty and fascinating tour through the scientific study of longevity and aging. Dividing his daunting subject by theme—death, life span, aging, heredity, evolution, and more—Silvertown draws on the latest scientific developments to paint a picture of what we know about how life span, senescence, and death vary within and across species. At every turn, he addresses fascinating questions that have far-reaching implications: What causes aging, and what determines the length of an individual life? What changes have caused the average human life span to increase so dramatically—fifteen minutes per hour—in the past two centuries? If evolution favors those who leave the most descendants, why haven’t we evolved to be immortal? The answers to these puzzles and more emerge from close examination of the whole natural history of life span and aging, from fruit flies, nematodes, redwoods, and much more. The Long and the Short of It pairs a perpetually fascinating topic with a wholly engaging writer, and the result is a supremely accessible book that will reward curious readers of all ages.

Perspectives On Behavioral Inhibition

Author : J. Steven Reznick
ISBN : 0226710408
Genre : Psychology
File Size : 30. 85 MB
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Behavioral inhibition, often displayed as shyness in children and avoidance in animals, can be observed in the earliest stages of infancy. Recent research indicates that in extreme cases the tendency to either approach or withdraw from uncertain events continues through late childhood and is supported by specific biological mechanisms, suggesting a genetic basis. To effectively study behavioral inhibition, researchers are departing from the essentially experiential and descriptive techniques of traditional psychology and turning to a multidisciplinary approach that integrates psychology, psychiatry, epidemiology, genetics, and ethology. Perspectives in Behavioral Inhibition brings together the most current research of leading scholars in the various disciplines involved.

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