Aarathi PrasadNov 9, 2023
A History in Three Metamorphoses
William Collins 2023
Silk—a luxury fabric, a valuable trade good, and a scientific marvel. This material, created by the bombyx mori silkworm, has captivated artisans for centuries—and it captivated science presenter and writer Aarathi Prasad, who was studying the scientific potential of silk for new treatments.
That started Aarathi on a journey to explore the world of silk—not just the traditional silk we use today, but all its different varieties: wild silks, made from less famous moths; sea silks, made from mollusks; and spider silk, strong, yet significantly more difficult to harvest. This all comes together in her latest book, Silk: A History in Three Metamorphoses (William Collins, 2023)
In this interview, Aarathi and I explore this world of silk, in all its forms, and why silk may be the hottest new material in biotechnology today.
Aarathi Prasad is a writer, broadcaster, and researcher interested in the intersection of science and technology with cultures, history, health, and the environment. She is also the author of In The Bonesetter’s Waiting Room: Travels Through Indian Medicine (Profile Books Limited: 2016) which was about health and disease in modern India, and Like A Virgin: How Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex (Simon and Schuster: 2012), which explored the history and future of reproduction. Aarathi has a PhD in genetics from Imperial College London and is an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London’s Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.