Illustration: A. Canamucio
I knew, back in March, that I was taking a gamble. The fourth edition of my human genetics textbook would be published in July, and judging from the rate of genomes being sequenced, it looked like Homo sapiens might join the list come summer. Unless the new edition assumed that the project was completed, my book would be obsolete before it was printed. So I E-mailed the great and powerful J. Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics Group in Rockville, Md., to ask about the timetable.

Despite his image as Darth Vader--softened perhaps since the joint announcement on June 26 (see page 1)--Venter has always been exceptionally courteous to reporters. In my case, I had to do some rephrasing reminiscent of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in All the President's Men to get him to admit that if a student were to read in late July that...

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