Author Archives

Maud Newton is a writer, editor, and critic whose work has appeared in Harpers, The New York Times Magazine, Narrative, Granta, Bookforum, The Awl, Tin House, Oxford American, and many other publications. She's writing a book about the science and superstition of ancestry for Random House. In 2009 she received the Narrative Prize for fiction.

Science, Chance, and Emotion with Real Cosima

Maud Newton | Longreads | June 2015 | 24 minutes (5,889 words)

 

BBC America’s Orphan Black seems so immediate, so plausible, so unfuturistic, that Cosima Herter, the show’s science consultant, is used to being asked whether human reproductive cloning could be happening in a lab somewhere right now. If so, we wouldn’t know, she says. It’s illegal in so many countries, no one would want to talk about it. But one thing is clear, she told me, when we met to talk about her work on the show: in our era of synthetic biology — of Craig Venter’s biological printer and George Church’s standardized biological parts, of three-parent babies and of treatment for cancer that involves reengineered viruses— genetics as we have conceived of it is already dead. We don’t have the language for what is emerging. Read more…