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New documentary has a good time asking how gene editing might change the world

Enlarge / An artist’s representation of a Cas9 protein immediately interrupting and changing a living creature’s genes. (credit: Wonder Collaborative)

Here’s a poorly kept secret: the internal chatter at a given research and scientific institution is typically more interesting than what emerges on the public record. Published papers and newspaper interviews don’t come with the banter, pop-culture references, or sheer wit that pumps through most nerds’ veins.

I thought back to all that nerd humor when I reflected on Human Nature, a documentary about gene editing and CRISPR that had its world premiere at South by Southwest 2019. There’s a lot of ground to cover on such a topic, and the film, co-produced by Dan Rather, does quite well by identifying existing research and studies, then grounding them with context and equal parts optimism and pessimism. But Human Nature is also the rare science film that isn’t afraid to let its smart talking heads be funny, dorky, or just plain sharp.

Meaning: if you already know everything about CRISPR (and if you read Ars Technica, you very well might), Human Nature still has something for you.

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