An exhilarating look at the cutting edge of bioengineering and how science and medicine are pushing the boundaries of human potential.
At the heart of journalist Piore’s story are the people driving this biomedical revolution—both the scientists and the patients who benefit from their innovative problem-solving. The insight, perseverance, and resilience of both groups drive the field’s rapid progress and reveal something profound about the elasticity of the mind and its relationship with the body. A figure such as the Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, who lost both legs as an infant yet achieved success as an athlete in ways that would have been impossible even 25 years ago, is just one example of the astounding progress that has been made in compensating for devastating injuries. By merging discerning science reporting with capable storytelling, the author—a former editor and correspondent for Newsweek who has written for Conde Nast Traveler, Mother Jones, and other publications—goes beyond external physical augmentation or repair and investigates how scientists are “hacking into the body itself and rewriting or redirecting the body’s cellular instruction manuals…coercing the body to rebuild or transform itself.” Consequently, ideas typically limited to science fiction are becoming reality: a blind person “seeing” with her ears; extrasensory perception; editing the genome to cure disease; a “memorization pill”; and the potential for deep brain stimulation to correct neurological conditions are just a few of the very real current advances in biomedicine. Even creativity is implicated in the potential to engineer our abilities. Such progress is not without some heady ethical considerations, which Piore handles deftly, but it’s hard to finish the book without feeling excited about the possibilities for new science to profoundly help patients with debilitating conditions lead connected lives.
A mind-bending read that will expand your perception of self.