原文:

It is the impulse of science to try to understand nature, and the impulse of technology to try to manipulate it. Recombinant DNA had pushed genetics from the realm of sciece into the realm of technology. Genes were not abstractions anymore. They could be liberated from the genomes of organisms where they had been trapped for millennia, shuttled between species, amplified, purified, extended, shortened, altered, remixed, mutated, mixed, matched, cut, pasted, edited; they were infintely malleable to human intervention. Genes were no longer just the subjects of study, but the instruments of study. There is an illuminated moment in the development of a child when she grasps the recursiveness of language: just as thoughts can be used to generate words, she realizes, words can be used to generate thoughts. Recombinant DNA had made the language of genetics recursive. Biologists had spent decades trying to interrogate the nature of the gene — but now it was the gene that could be used to interrogate biology. We had graduated, in short, from thinking about genes, to thinking in genes.

翻译:

科学和科技的初衷不同,科学的初衷是了解自然,而科技的初衷是掌控自然。重组DNA成功之后,遗传学从一门科学变成了一项科技。从此,基因不再只是抽象概念,不再只是千万年禁锢在基因组中的一部分,相反,基因已经能从基因组中提取出来,在物种间转移,并进行复制、提纯、扩充、缩减、修改、重排、变异、混合、配对、剪切、贴合、编辑。在人类手里,它们呈现出无限可能。至此,基因已经不只是研究的课题,而变成了研究的工具。就好像小孩长大的过程中,恍然大悟,原来语言的功用也是双相的,思想可以产生语言,而语言也能产生思想。遗传学的语言是基因,重组DNA技术出现之后,它也具备了双相性。生物学家耗时几十年,想通过生物学探寻基因的本质——现在可以利用基因反过来探寻生物学本质。简言之,我们已经迈上新起点,基因从“问题”变成了“思路”。

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