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Today's Great Challenge

Marcia McNutt, geophysicist
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

A grand challenge for our time, and one surely worthy of engaging the world's greatest minds, is the quest to unlock the secrets of the genetic code. If we understood the complex ways in which genes are expressed in the biochemical reactions that govern the life cycle and behavior of living organisms, we could create:
  1. grasshoppers that only like the taste of weeds;

  2. rice that grows best in salt water;

  3. bacteria that gobble up DDT;

  4. viruses that attack cancer cells;

  5. skunks with the scent of expensive perfume;

  6. mosquitoes that detest human blood;

  7. children who find books more fascinating than video games.

Personally, I would settle for number 7.

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