THE CRISPR’D MONARCH MONK:  A S.T.E.A.M PARADIGM, CRISPLY DONE?

The monarch butterfly and the monk reference characters in the Alfred P Sloan-award winning film “Son of Monarchs” directed by Dr Alexis Gambis, a biologist and filmmaker at NYU. (The Scientific American “Science Talks” podcast)

Exploring themes of humanity on Spaceship Earth (crossing the artificial lines we create around states), science and the evolution of monarch wings together with its use of technology, engineering and mathematics we get a super STEAM-powered artistic intersection that always pleases us here at Alltheus and inspired this design.

The hands gently support a monarch butterfly just as our good Earth supports us travelling around Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way.

Notably the film did not treat CRISPR – related technology as a part of the science fiction dystopian genre but attempted to capture some of the rich complexity and questions that arise from CRISPR’s direct gene editing rather than having to go through selective breeding of, for example, peas used by the 19th century monk Gregor Mendel (& hence a green monks head!).

A great quote from the film is a toast from Mendel, the main character: “To CRISPR and the genetic revolution”. Here we note that Dr.s Emmanuel Charpentier & Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2020 for their pioneering CRISPR-Cas9 work and look forward to many more awards to female scientists pushing back the frontiers of humanity’s knowledge. 

In the context of our planet it is also worth considering the mutualism that the web of life depends upon, which we are becoming increasingly aware of vs the dangers of poorly regulated and unlimited competition that is reducing diversity and resilience. Until and unless we can become a true space faring species, visualized here as a fleet of butterflies orbiting – or leaving – the Earth,  and practically use the far less limited resources of the Solar System and, ultimately, beyond we must learn to live here without spoiling our nest too much more.