Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 349–352 | Cite as

Sophia Roosth, Synthetic: How Life Got Made

The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2017, 256 pp., 16 b&w illus., $35.00 Paper, ISBN: 9780226440460
  • Rebecca WilbanksEmail author
Book Review

Sophia Roosth’s Synthetic: How Life Got Made arrives at the perfect moment for a retrospective of the heady first decade of synthetic biology. In the mid-2000s, science journals and general interest publications buzzed with promises of making biology easy to engineer. An influx of investment from the public and private sector followed, along with self-consciously experimental (and sometimes playful) collaborations between synthetic biologists, artists, designers, DIY enthusiasts, and social science and humanities scholars. Though synthetic biology is still likely to be spotted in close proximity to the adjectives new and emerging, some organizations have recently shifted the banner under which they work to the more staid and blandly general engineering biology, perhaps tiring of the spotlight and hoping to hasten the day when the field “cease[s] to be remarkable” (p. 176). Synthetictakes us back to a period not so long ago when pre-existing research traditions, technological trends,...



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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