The Biotech Century

There's a revolution brewing in the lab, and the payoff will be breathtaking

The grand, tumultuous pageant of human history is, in a large part, propelled by technology. Metalworking and improved agriculture carried civilization out of the Stone Age. In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution gave rise to mighty machines and sprawling cities. In the 20th century, physics became king. Physicists split the atom, explored the bizarre worlds of relativity and quantum theory, and harnessed the power of tiny chips of silicon. Along the way, they transformed the world with the atom bomb, the transistor, the laser, and the microchip. But now, many experts believe, humankind is poised to ride a new wave of scientific knowledge in the headlong rush to the future. "This was the century of physics and chemistry," proclaims 1996 Nobel prize-winning chemist Robert F. Curl of Rice University. "But it is clear that the next century will be the century of biology."

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