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
Award-winning scientist and writer Sean Carroll ties together the fundamental laws of physics governing the workings of the cosmos with the everyday human experience we all share. Dr Sean Carroll is an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology. He has written a variety of popular science books along with textbooks and has long been interested in the biggest questions in astronomy: Where does probability come from? How does time work? What is dark matter and dark energy?
The talk, given at the Royal Institution in October 2016, will take us on a breath-taking journey from the origin of the Universe, through the evolution of life and consciousness, to the eternal question of what it all really means.
Dr. Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution for Science, Geophysical Laboratory:
The story of Earth is a 4.5-billion-year saga of dramatic transformations, driven by physical, chemical, and—based on a fascinating growing body of evidence—biological processes. The co-evolution of life and rocks, the new paradigm that frames this lecture, unfolds in an irreversible sequence of evolutionary stages. Each stage re-sculpted our planet’s surface, each introduced new planetary processes and phenomena, and each inexorably paved the way for the next. This grand and intertwined tale of Earth’s living and non-living spheres is only now coming into focus. Sequential changes of terrestrial planets and moons are best preserved in their rich mineralogical record. “Mineral evolution,” the study of our planet’s diversifying near-surface environment, began with a dozen different mineral species that formed in the cooling envelopes of exploding stars. Dust and gas from those stars clumped together to form our stellar nebula, the nebula formed the Sun and countless planetesimals, and alteration of planetesimals by water and heat resulted in the approximately 250 minerals found today in meteorites that fall to Earth. Following Earth’s growth and separation into the core, mantle, and crust, mineral evolution progressed by a sequence of chemical and physical processes, which led to perhaps 1500 mineral species. According to some origin-of-life scenarios, a planet must evolve through at least some of these stages of chemical processing as a prerequisite for life. Once life emerged, mineralogy and biology co-evolved, as changes in the chemistry of oceans and atmosphere dramatically increased Earth’s mineral diversity to the almost 5000 species known today.
Bacteria are everywhere: in the ground, in the water and in the air. There’s no creature on earth that’s not populated by bacteria. Scientists are exploring the complex role of microorganisms. How great is the invisible power of bacteria? Bubonic plague, typhoid and tuberculosis: over the course of human history, we’ve fallen victim to countless diseases caused by bacteria. But only around one percent of known bacteria are pathogens. This documentary looks at the microorganisms that live in the bodies of living things – from tiny insects to mammals such as humans. Without bacteria, the human digestive, immune and even reproductive systems wouldn’t work. The human body contains ten times as many bacteria as it does cells of its own. Scientists are only now beginning to understand why. Bacteria may have played a bigger role in the evolution and development of species than previously thought. Thanks to its symbiotic relationship with bacteria, the bobtail squid, which lives off the coast of Hawaii, is able to light up and defend itself against predators. A marine worm off the coast of Elba can feed itself without having a digestive system, and a species of wasp reproduces alone with the help of bacteria. How great is the invisible power of microbes? A fascinating documentary about the tiniest living things.
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.
Neuroscientist Greg Gage takes sophisticated equipment used to study the brain out of graduate-level labs and brings them to middle- and high-school classrooms (and, sometimes, to the TED stage.) Prepare to be amazed as he hooks up the Mimosa pudica, a plant whose leaves close when touched, and the Venus flytrap to an EKG to show us how plants use electrical signals to convey information, prompt movement and even count.
Interesting talk by Jimm Baggott on his latest book “Mass: The quest to understand matter from Greek atoms to quantum fields”. In this Royal Institution Lecture Jimm Baggott tries to answer questions like: Do elementary particles have mass? Does the Higg’s boson exist?
Physicist Patricia Burchat sheds light on two basic ingredients of our universe: dark matter and dark energy. Comprising 96% of the universe between them, they can’t be directly measured, but their influence is immense.
Math is logical, functional and just … awesome. Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series. (And reminds you that mathematics can be inspiring, too!)