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The Human Genome Project has been called a scientific 'search for the Holy Grail' or the genetics equivalent of the moon race. This book reviews, in nontechnical terms, the developments from different scientific teams that made it seem as if it would be possible to sequence the human genome. The Human Genome Project has been called a scientific "search for the Holy Grail" or the genetics equivalent of the moon race. Thousands of researchers worldwide are analyzing the details of human DNA, hoping to identify all of the tens of thousands of human genes that are the blueprint for the human body. Physicist and writer Tom Wilkie offers a lively, compelling history of this scientifically fascinating and politically contentious undertaking. Beginning with the discovery of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, Wilkie's narrative unfolds with the intrigue of a detective story. He reviews in nontechnical terms the many step-by-step developments from different scientific teams that finally made it seem as if it would be possible to sequence the human genome. He goes on to consider the potential social consequences, good and bad, of learning to manipulate the human genetic code. What will happen as we try to prevent and cure disease or attempt to "improve" ourselves and our children by genetic means? A most readable introduction to the science of genetics and the potential consequences of the Human Genome Project, Perilous Knowledge provides background for the startling headlines that quite possibly signal changes to all human life in the next century. After decades of painstaking research, seemingly disparate paths into the sciences of molecular biology, chemistry, biology and genetics have converged. Suddenly the scientists realize that they are . . . at the peak of a mountain where all the surrounding landscape is clear to their view. They are confident now that they can tackle one of the biggest and most profound issues in their science: unravelling the message of human inheritance.