Given the choice, would you rather have been born with a different eye color, hair color or skin tone? Maybe you would have chosen to be taller, thinner or more muscular. Of course, you didn't have these options. The physical and personal traits a person winds up with are just one big roll of the dice, with only the biological parents' genes to draw from. However, within a few decades, there's a good chance that biotechnology could give us the ability to pre-choose our children's physical and personality traits like we pick out options on a new car.


Photo courtesy DOE Joint Genome Institute
Scientists are working to unlock the secrets hidden in our genome. This research could give us the ability to genetically engineer our children.

Scientists have only begun to unravel the secrets hidden within the human genome -- the genetic blueprint for a human being. A working draft of the human genome has already been published. Once the mapping of the human genome is finished, scientists will begin to discover what each gene does and how it functions. At that point, it might be possible to manipulate the genes of embryos. Imagine your doctor taking your order: "Okay, that's blue eyes, blonde hair, button nose. And will that be 6 feet 2 inches or 6 feet 4 inches?"

The idea of designing our babies is not as far-fetched as it may have seemed just a decade ago. Scientists are already tinkering with the genetic makeup of animals. In this edition of How Stuff WILL Work, you'll learn about the progress and goals of human-genome research, how we already can weed out genetic diseases and how the engineering of human genes will work.