How a horror story haunts science

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Science  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6372, pp. 148-150
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6372.148

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In conceiving her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley was influenced by the nascent medical science of the day and by early experiments on electricity. In return, Frankenstein has haunted science ever since. Shelley's book and subsequent films and plays have become what one author calls "the governing myth of modern biology": a cautionary tale of scientific hubris. The scientific literature, like the popular press, is rife with references to Frankenfood, Frankencells, and Frankendrugs—most of them supposedly monstrous creations. Other papers mentioning Frankenstein analyze the science behind the novel, analyze Shelley's state of mind, or even, in a bizarre twist, draw inspiration from the tale.