‘What is Life? A 21st Century Perspective’ by Dr Craig Venter

The actual talk by Dr Craig Venter starts at 14:00.
One of the landmark events of 20th century science was celebrated and reinterpreted for the 21st century in Trinity College Dublin on 12 July 2012 as part of the Science in the City programme of ESOF2012. Dr Craig Venter, one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project in the 1990s and a pioneer of synthetic biology delivered a lecture entitled, ‘What is Life? A 21st century perspective’ recreating the Irish event that inspired the discovery of the structure of DNA.

In February, 1943 one of the most distinguished scientists of the 20th Century, Erwin Schrödinger, delivered a seminal lecture, entitled ‘What is Life?’, under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, in Trinity College Dublin. The lecture presented far-sighted ideas on how hereditary information could be encoded in a chemical structure (aperiodic crystal) in living cells. Schrödinger’s book (1944) of the same title is considered to be a scientific classic. The book was cited by Crick and Watson as one of the inspirations which ultimately led them to unravel the structure of DNA in 1953, a breakthrough which won them the Nobel prize.

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).

Future Biology by J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter is a biologist most known for his contributions, in 2001, of sequencing the first draft human genome and in 2007 for the first complete diploid human genome. In 2010 he and his team announced success in constructing the first synthetic bacterial cell. His present work focuses on creating synthetic biological organisms and applications of this work, and discovering genetic diversity in the world’s oceans.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

The Origins of the Future: From Medicine and Synthetic Biology to Machine Intelligence-Part-1

This discussion is part of ‘The Great Debate’ moderated by Lawrence Krauss of the Origins Project of Arizona State University. I am fascinated by some of the areas discussed here and will continue posting some of the lectures this week by scientists that I admire such as Craig Venter and Richard Dawkins.

The Origins of the Future: From Medicine and Synthetic Biology to Machine Intelligence, features Richard Dawkins, Craig Venter, Kim Staney Robinson, Esther Dyson, Eric Horvitz, George Poste and Randolph Nesse discussing the origins of the future, followed by Q&A (coming up in part 2 which I’ll post tomorrow).

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