Radiolab / CRISPR Update

I’ve long been a bit obsessed with Radiolab, largely because of its calm and insightful takes science and scientific history. It can be a bit mellow compared to playing Call of Duty or listening to shock radio, but if you just want to learn new perspectives on rarely discussed things, it doesn’t get any better.

One of my all-time favorite Radiolab podcasts was Antibodies Part I: CRISPR from June 6, 2015. It was a fascinating story about the scientific and moral implications of a new gene editing technology called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR).

“It is theoretically possible [with CRISPR] for one person to decide to change
the local, or possibly the global environment, and that’s epically problematic, right?”
– Dr. Kevin Esvelt (Interviewee) –

The moral, political and societal implications of this new technology are hard to overstate–and yet public reaction has been somewhat muted if not entirely absent. I get it; it’s abstract and abstruse and frankly, terrifying, to really think about.

Here is what NPR has to say about the podcast:

“It’s been almost two years since we learned about CRISPR, a ninja-assassin-meets-DNA-editing-tool that has been billed as one of the most powerful, and potentially controversial, technologies ever discovered by scientists. In this episode, we catch up on what’s been happening (it’s a lot), and learn about CRISPR’s potential to not only change human evolution, but every organism on the entire planet.”

I’ll write about all of this more in short order, but in the meantime, I would STRONGLY recommend listening to this updated version of the podcast. You will learn, you will think, and if you’re creative at all, you’ll understand how wonderful and dangerous this is. Enjoy, or shake in horror, or both; it’s a Brave New World.

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