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Book: Frankenstein's Cat

Join us for a discussion of the book Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts by Emily Anthes.


Book Description:


For centuries, we’ve toyed with our creature companions, breeding dogs that herd and hunt, housecats that look like tigers, and teacup pigs that fit snugly in our handbags. But what happens when we take animal alteration a step further, engineering a cat that glows green under ultraviolet light or cloning the beloved family Labrador? Science has given us a whole new toolbox for tinkering with life. How are we using it?

In Frankensteins Cat, the journalist Emily Anthes takes us from petri dish to pet store as she explores how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends. As she ventures from bucolic barnyards to a “frozen zoo” where scientists are storing DNA from the planet’s most exotic creatures, she discovers how we can use cloning to protect endangered species, craft prosthetics to save injured animals, and employ genetic engineering to supply farms with disease-resistant livestock. Along the way, we meet some of the animals that are ushering in this astonishing age of enhancement, including sensor-wearing seals, cyborg beetles, a bionic bulldog, and the world’s first cloned cat.

Through her encounters with scientists, conservationists, ethicists, and entrepreneurs, Anthes reveals that while some of our interventions may be trivial (behold: the GloFish), others could improve the lives of many species—including our own. So what does biotechnology really mean for the world’s wild things? And what do our brave new beasts tell us about ourselves?

With keen insight and her trademark spunk, Anthes highlights both the peril and the promise of our scientific superpowers, taking us on an adventure into a world where our grandest science fiction fantasies are fast becoming reality.

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  • pat b.

    Great discussion of a book I thoroughly enjoyed!

    June 25, 2013

  • Enrique

    What I was trying to say: Its like on certain terrestrial exoplanets similar to earth that life (in any shape, form or composition) may almost be seen as an extension of the geologic chemical process of the planet.

    June 23, 2013

  • Enrique

    A lot of intense conversation. Enjoyed it. Look forward to more. Location was pretty relaxed.

    June 23, 2013

  • Cone W.

    I'm only a third of the way through the book. Too busy lately to have any reading time. If by some miracle I get through enough of the book tonight, I will come - otherwise, no.

    June 22, 2013

  • Enrique

    Everybody still coming for the book? Update rsvp if you are not coming for whatever reason. I finished it a month ago.

    June 21, 2013

  • Enrique

    Finished the book. Strange to read about the beetles and other animals that are fitted with electrodes and microprocessors that receive signals and instructions from people. The devices override the organisms brain and it then follows human commands. Cyborg beetles, robot roaches and rats. Dragonflies would have been my choice if I were a scientist in that field.

    May 27, 2013

    • Rick

      Just downloaded the ebook. Looking forward to reading it. Your comment about the cyborg beetles made me think about an article I read.There is a wasp that can control a roach by tapping directly into its brain. Here is a link to the article­

      June 9, 2013

  • Enrique

    There is also the bottle neck effect of reducing genetic diversity that puts a species at risk for other ailments. Cryogenic zoos seems like a desperate last effort.

    May 12, 2013

  • Enrique

    They are trying to use cloning and reproductive technologies to help endangered species. Author mentions that this still does not address the greater issue of habitat loss that is putting species at risk in the first place.

    May 12, 2013

  • Enrique

    At 27%

    May 10, 2013

  • Enrique

    Just read 10% of it today. Transgenic species. Genetically modified organisms.

    May 6, 2013

  • Cone W.

    Just got shipping confirmation on my book - should arrive next week, but I have to finish the Pseudoscience Wars first - looking forward to reading this book.

    April 19, 2013

  • Cone W.

    OK, just ordered the book, so I am in!!

    April 17, 2013

  • Cone W.

    Sounds really interesting! I'm a maybe at this point.

    April 3, 2013

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