DOLLY: SEND IN THE CLONES

RETRO REPORT  / NEW YORK TIMES, 12 min (2013) editor

In 1997, Scottish scientists announced they had cloned a sheep and named her Dolly, and sent waves of future shock around the world that continue to shape frontiers of science today.

“Scientists clone adult sheep,” read the headline splashed across the front of a British newspaper in the winter of 1997. Soon, the rest of the world would meet Dolly, the product of a team of Scottish scientists who took a mammary cell from an adult sheep, fused it to another sheep’s unfertilized egg and created an identical twin.

A rush of media attention gave way, almost instantaneously, to speculation and anxiety about what this new discovery meant for man’s ability to manipulate biology — a controversy compounded by a brewing debate over the ethics of embryonic stem cell work.

Dolly’s story explores the friction between science and politics, and what happens when a breakthrough is so tangible and profound that it provokes both our highest hopes and greatest fears.