Feature

Author of the week: Emily Anthes

Emily Anthes can now count some of the animal kingdom’s most unusual celebrities among her acquaintances.

Emily Anthes can now count some of the animal kingdom’s most unusual celebrities among her acquaintances, said Virginia Hughes in NationalGeographic.com. Researching the book Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts will do that to a science journalist’s social circle. “Meeting CC, the world’s first cloned cat, was probably the most fun,” says Anthes, referring to a famous 11-year-old tabby also known as Copy Cat. “I’m not sure what I expected, but I definitely did not expect to discover that the scientist who helped create her would have built her her very own two-story, air-conditioned house in his backyard. Or that she’d live there with her cat ‘husband’ and their three kids. CC is a very cute cat, but it was a little surreal to be a guest in her ‘home.’”

One of the book’s big surprises is that hundreds of animals are now cloned in the U.S. each year, said Terry Gross in NPR.org. But Anthes didn’t limit her research to genetic engineering, so she also had a close encounter with a creature that represents a potential future for military surveillance—a cyborg cockroach. Each living roach being tested wears a tiny circuit board on its back that allows a human overseer to steer its movements left or right. Anthes was wowed when she got to command such a bug, even though the roach was still making its own decisions about whether to scurry and how fast. “We did this outside,” she says. “I don’t know that I would want to do it in my apartment.”

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