Splicing and Dicing DNA: Genome Engineering and the CRISPR Revolution

CRISPR: It’s the powerful gene editing technology transforming biomedical research. Fast, cheap and easy to use, it allows scientists to rewrite the DNA in just about any organism—including humans—with tests on human embryos already underway. The technique’s potential to radically reshape everything from disease prevention to the future of human evolution has driven explosive progress and heated debate. Join the world’s CRISPR pioneers to learn about the enormous possibilities and ethical challenges as we stand on the threshold of a brave new world of manipulating life’s fundamental code.

Original Program Date: June 3 2016
MODERATOR: Richard Besser
PARTICIPANTS: George Church, Luke Dow, Josephine Johnston, Ben Matthews, Harry Ostrer, Noel Sauer

Pranay Lal with Richard Fortey at the Zee Jaipur Lit Fest

Pranay Lal in conversation with Pradip Krishen introduced by Richard Fortey at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival.  Pranay Lal is the author of “Indica” the wonderful book on the Natural History of the Indian Sub-continent. 


Conversations with Sir Ian McKellen

Career Q&A with Ian McKellen. Moderated by Dave Karger, Fandango.

Ian McKellen has been honored with over 50 international acting awards during his half-century on stage and screen. He is treasured worldwide as Magneto in the X-Men films and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

He first worked with director Bill Condon as James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1998) receiving his first Academy Award® nomination, for Best Actor. The same year, top critics’ groups elected him Best Actor, as the Nazi-in-hiding in Bryan Singer’s Apt Pupil. For his classic performance in Richard Loncraine’s Richard III, which he produced and co-wrote, he was named 1996 European Actor of the Year.

His varied list of other renowned films include The Keep (1983); Plenty (1985); Scandal (1988);Six Degrees of Separation (1993); Restoration (1995); Bent (1997); Cold Comfort Farm (1995) andThe Da Vinci Code (2006).

On the small screen, McKellen currently stars in the wickedly successful ITV/PBS sitcom Vicious. For his extensive television work, McKellen is a five-time Emmy nominee, most recently for his matchless King Lear (2008); and his comic guest spot on Extras (2006) remembered for the viral catch-phrase: “How do I act so well?” He is most proud of his work as the mentally- handicapped Walter (1982 Royal Television Award) inAnd the Band Played On (1993 Cable Ace Award), about the origins of AIDS and a guest spot in UK’s longest-running soap Coronation Street (2005).

Born and raised in the north of England, McKellen attended Cambridge University and since 1961 has worked non-stop in the British theatre. He has been leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain and in the West End of London. He has won Olivier Awards for Macbeth (1976-78); The Alchemist (1977); Bent (1979); Wild Honey (1984) and Richard III (1990): plus Evening Standard Awards for Coriolanus (1984) and Othello (1989) and for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre (2009).

In 1981, he won every available award, including a Tony for Best Actor, as Salieri in the Broadway production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. He was most recently in New York in No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot after breaking all box-office records in London and on UK and world tours. Over a decade, he toured his solo entertainment Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare throughout four continents, where on DVD it is daily viewed in schools and universities. He astonished his fans as Widow Twankey in the Christmas pantomime at the Old Vic in London (2004 & 2005).

In 1991 Sir Ian was knighted, for his outstanding contribution to theatre. He is co-founder of Stonewall UK, which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people. In 2008, the Queen personally appointed him Companion of Honour for his services to drama and to equality.

Mastering Style: The Learning and Teaching of Writing

The Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT), in collaboration with the Harvard Writers at Work Lecture Series, welcomed Professor Steven Pinker and Visiting Professor Jill Abramson on December 9th, 2014 in a talk at Harvard titled, “Mastering Style: The Learning and Teaching of Writing.” The discussion, inspired by the recent publication of Professor Pinker’s book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, was focused on the teaching and learning of writing, associated challenges, and practical recommendations.

The starting point of effective writing, Pinker shared, is for the author to determine a mental model of the communication scenario between the writer and the reader. Pinker shared the “classic style” theory of interpreting writer/reader communication from literary scholars Francis-Noel Thomas and Mark Turner. Classic style aims to help the reader see objective reality, which can be accomplished by focusing on the thing being shown and not on the activity of studying it, as well as by avoiding clichés and “metaconcepts” (concepts about concepts), among other recommendations. Academic writing, in contrast, is frequently written in postmodern or self-conscious style, one that includes apologizing and hedging.

Craig Venter in Conversation with Richard Dawkins

Craig should be an inspiration to students who want to revolutionise and fast forward science. Certainly I am an admirer of Craig for various reasons especially his boldness and confidence in himself and his team to go ahead with a project of such enormous proportion and importance.

Richard Dawkins interviews Craig Venter for “The Genius of Charles Darwin”, the Channel 4 UK TV program which won British Broadcasting Awards’ “Best Documentary Series” of 2008. Craig Venter founded The Institute for Genomic Research and has been credited with being instrumental in mapping the human genome. His team published the first complete genome of an individual human – Venter’s own DNA sequence. This footage was shot with the intention of editing for a television program. What you see here is the full extended interview, which includes a lot of rough camera transitions that were edited out of the final program (along with a lot of content).

NOTHING: The Science of Emptiness

Why is there something rather than nothing? And what does ‘nothing’ really mean? More than a philosophical musing, understanding nothing may be the key to unlocking deep mysteries of the universe, from dark energy to why particles have mass. Journalist John Hockenberry hosts Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, esteemed cosmologist John Barrow, and leading physicists Paul Davies and George Ellis as they explore physics, philosophy and the nothing they share.

  • Introduction 00:19
  • John Barrow lecture on how nothing can be something. 03:52
  • Participant introductions. 28:57
  • Can the beginning be ranked a zero? 30:00
  • Empty space and virtual particles. 37:11
  • Does science want there to be nothing? 40:02
  • Zero may not be nothing. 49:16
  • What do you get when you test nothing? 58:48
  • How do you jump from there was nothing to now we can measure nothing? 01:05:01
  • What if there is evidence that time changes rate and direction. 01:08:30
  • Does consciousness change the testing of the observer? 01:12:10
  • What does string theory say about nothing? 01:17:40

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