Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Gene: An Intimate History. From the transcript of his interview with Fareed Zakaria:
ZAKARIA: So in this book, what you say is that, in this area in biology, like in other areas of science, the big news is that we have finally gotten down to the fundamental unit of analysis. Explain what you mean.--Marshal Zeringue
MUKHERJEE: Well, the gene is the fundamental unit of analysis in biology, in the same way that the atom is for matter or the bit or the byte is for computing. We've known genes -- about genes for a long time. But the idea -- I mean, the way that we're understanding, the depths and the clarity with which we're understanding genes today and its influence on our lives, on our social lives, our biological lives, is enormous, just like, you know, the understanding of the atom changed the world of physics and just like the understanding of, you know, digitized information changed the world of computing.
ZAKARIA: So if you look at that analogy, what you're saying is really that, when you are able to go down to the essential element of matter in physics, the atom, you are able to then figure out how to manipulate it, how to read information. When you are able to get down to the fundamental unit of information, the bit or the byte, you are able to move it around. Each of them produced an explosion of knowledge and then of applications.
ZAKARIA: Is the same thing happening...
MUKHERJEE: That's happening right now. We are learning to read and write genes, the language of genes, in a way that we hadn't even 10 or 15 years ago. And by that I mean...[read on]