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Some of what you want to know about synthetic biology, but not enough
on July 19, 2014
I selected this book for a small group that is dipping its toes into synthetic biology--or at least trying to get its mind around it. It looked good enough, but as we have used it, its defects have become increasingly obvious: It is out of date (lots of economic data from 2006-2008), idiosyncratically written, and badly organized. We had to go to another couple of books and the Internet to get everyone up to speed on the fundamentals of DNA. Although Carlson does give an example of direct modification of DNA and covers the early days of iGEM, there is too much missing and too much soapbox talk. Unfortunately, he is not a lucid writer. With all of that said, the book does cover many relevant topics, such as the biosafety and patent issues that accompany this fascinating field. Carlson attempts to cover the economic aspects but his coverage is sorely dated. I hope that someone else will put it all together for general readers in the near future--hello, iGem graduates with a flair for writing! And when he or she creates the Kindle version, real page numbers and a live index would be very appreciated.