Last week provided a surfeit of events to challenge the imagination, with announcements that cellular aging had been reversed in cows and that gene therapy had freed immunocompromised children from life in their protective bubbles. At the same time, Europeans were telling pollsters about the moral hazards of biotechnology, while U.S. lawmakers were asked to choose between visions of an embryo holocaust and a world in which a not-so-Superman can walk again.

The events fell on the heels of the recent warnings - we would say rantings - of a prominent computer technologist who said that knowledge has become too dangerous and must be suppressed in order to save humanity (see BioCentury, April 17).

Indeed, given the blizzard of astounding science, it probably has become impossibly hard for the public and their media gatekeepers to decipher what is real - eternal youth or the simple miracle of breathing the fresh, open air - and whether to fear either.

What is clearly real now is the public's fascination about things that aren't yet real - or perhaps not even possible - and concern over things that are products of the imagination but not (yet) the products of science.

Prolonging life

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