A recent article in the popular journal Scientific American begins with the
claim that scientists have succeeded in “cracking the code of life.” Two
decades ago, such an announcement would have been met with wonder
and amazement. Today, it is likely to elicit a far more subdued response.
Over the past few years, we have grown accustomed to reading about the
“miracles” of modern science. The expanding use of new reproductive technologies,
genetic engineering, prosthetics, and cloning to name but a few of
the most astonishing advances, have allowed us to become habituated to
the dizzying pace of scientific discoveries. The ability of science to impress
us with its seemingly impossible feats has become “extraordinarily ordinary”
over the past five years (Hayden 1998).