Cloning in the Popular Imagination
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
Science and Technology Studies
Dolly is a cloned sheet born in July 1996 at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh by Ian Wilmut, a British embryologist. She was produced, after 276 failed attempts, from the genetic material of a six-year-old sheep. But Dolly is also a Rorschach test. The public response to the production of a lamb from an adult cell mirrors the futuristic fantasies and Frankenstein fears that have more broadly surrounded research in genetics, and especially genetic engineering. Dolly stands in for other monstrosities—both actual and fictional—that human knowledge and technique have produced. She provokes fear not so much because she is novel, but because she is such a familiar entity: a biological product of human design who appears to be a human surrogate. Dolly as "virtual" person is terrifying and seductive—despite her placid temperament.