The work of Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley will have a huge effect on the future of all life here on Earth and possibly beyond. She and her team have created the ability to insert stretches of DNA exactly where they want them to go in a living chromosome’s DNA. The technique she developed into a practical method is known as CRISPR, and it will enable future living things to create new stuff that even science fiction hasn’t dreamed of yet. The possibilities reside in the realms of the unknownable unknowns, but the door has been opened.
This technology combined with Craig Venter’s replicator, the design of which could be sent to a distant star system and built there, could enable life of any description to be sent from here to there at the speed of light. This isn’t an Earth-shaking discovery; it is a galaxy-wide enabling of life discovery. It enables life to move though the Universe at the speed of light, and once established to intentionally modify its phenotype to fit the new situation.
The complete up-to-present list of – Probaway Person of the Year:
- 2017 – Albert Einstein for predicting black holes, their collisions creating gravity waves, and the laser for observing the gravity waves.
- 2016 – Xi Jinping for taking China from a backward economy to the most powerful one on Earth.
- 2015 – Peter Higgs and Alan Guth created theories that lead to proofs this year of mass and gravity sources.
- 2014 – Jennifer Doudna created a method for insertion of designed DNA precisely into existing DNA.
- 2013 – Plague Inc. is a computer game that explores the problems of creating a disease that will kill every last human being on Earth.
- 2012 – Zebrafish research-technique advances made it possible to observe drug interactions within living animals.
- 2011 – Craig Venter laid the groundwork for creating entirely new forms of life (greater than species) out of computer-generated DNA sequences.
- 2010 – Nadya Suleman (Octomom) and the society that created this travesty of good sense will be remembered into the distant future by many hungry people.
- 2009 – Jimmy Wales for Wikipedia, which will be still be used after our current computer operating systems are surpassed and forgotten.
- 2008 – Cesar Millan (the dog whisperer) because he shows people how to relate to dogs and people much better than anyone else. His videos and techniques will be remembered and used as long as there are people and dogs.
These may seem like strange choices but they are potentially long-term-memorable events which had a major tipping point the year before their selection.
[Update January 16, 2014]
New Genome-Editing Method Could Make Gene Therapy More Precise and Effective
[Update Febuary 11, 2014]
DNA surgery from MIT