Synthetic biology has the potential to fabricate pharmaceuticals, break down pollutants and much more. But its great promise must be weighed against the potential risks it holds for our safety and the environment.
Near the end of the new exhibit Synth-ethic at Vienna's Natural History Museum, visitors are encouraged to confide their anxieties about biotechnology to sculptures that are a twist on Guatemalan worry dolls. These tiny dolls are constructed from cultured tissue, making them "semi-living".
Tom Knight is a computer scientist by training - a legendary one at that, having attended MIT at 14 - and a pioneer of processor design and networking systems since the mid-60s. He decided in 1990 or so "that the hot new area for technologists was going to be based not on physics, but on biology.