In addition to being incredibly entertaining and provocative, the popular Orphan Black series is absolutely teeming with science. From human clones and genetic engineering through to DNA barcodes and genetic patents, here's what you need to know about the science behind the show.
For the uninitiated, Orphan Black is a conspiracy thriller that stars Tatiana Maslany as several human clones. Uncertain of their true origins, the clones struggle to evade the unscrupulous Dyad Corporation as they try to learn more about their past.
And to the show's credit, the writers — with the help of science advisor Cosima Herter — get much of the science right. There's too much to cover in a single article, so we boiled it down to four main topics: human cloning, genetic engineering, the viability of the show's timeline, and the issue of genetic patenting.
The Prospect of Human Clones
To date, no human has been cloned. The act itself would be illegal, and its consequences – for society as well as the cloned individual – are far from clear. That being said, Orphan Black manages to explore a number of ethical and moral issues by imagining a world where viable human clones are a possibility – and it does it with relatively sound science.