A look at how new advances in bioengineering have the potential to radically transform our lives—and they are closer to reality than we think.
From genomics to artificial intelligence, innovations in science and technology have already made significant impacts on our daily lives. However, Hockfield, the first woman and first life scientist to be president of MIT, argues that significant progress is needed to combat the major issues that face a rapidly growing—and rapidly consuming—global population. In this vibrant and accessible book, she is optimistic that scientists are in the midst of a “revolutionary convergence of biology and engineering” that has the potential to not just overcome great challenges, but usher in a new golden age of biotechnology. The author continues, “ingenious and powerful biologically based tools are coming our way: viruses that can self-assemble into batteries, proteins that can clean water, nanoparticles that can detect and knock out cancer, prosthetic limbs that can read minds, [and] computer systems that can increase crop yield.” What’s especially exciting about the narrative is that much of the research Hockfield describes occurred as a result of her foresight and tenacity; her vision at MIT was to bridge disciplines in a manner similar to the pioneering work that was conducted at Bell Labs in the mid-20th century. Her insight and expertise enhance the vividness of her writing. Imagine a virus-based car battery that takes the form of a dashboard; a nanoscience-driven urine test that can detect cancer long before an MRI; or a method to feed 9.5 billion people using genetic modification. The author effortlessly navigates complex advances for a lay audience while telling the stories of the brilliant scientists who are innovating in these fields. In these uncertain times, Hockfield instills hope for an enriched and peaceful tomorrow.
A thrilling, insightful, and highly readable work of popular science.