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

The Mind after Midnight: Where Do You Go When You Go to Sleep?

We spend a third of our lives asleep. Every organism on Earth—from rats to dolphins to fruit flies to microorganisms—relies on sleep for its survival, yet science is still wrestling with a fundamental question: Why does sleep exist? During Shakespeare and Cervantes’ time, sleep was likened to death, with body and mind falling into a deep stillness before resurrecting each new day. In reality, sleep is a flurry of action. Trillions of neurons light up. The endocrine system kicks into overdrive. The bloodstream is flooded with a potent cocktail of critically vital hormones. Such vibrant activity begs the question: Where do we go when we go to sleep? Based on new sleep research, there are tantalizing signposts. We delved into the one-eyed, half-brained sleep of some animals; eavesdropped on dreams to understand their cognitive significance; and investigated extreme and bizarre sleeping behaviors like “sleep sex” and “sleep violence.”

Pioneers in Science: Lee Berger

Great minds inspire greatness. The World Science Festival – Pioneers in Science program offers high school students a path toward greatness through a rare opportunity to interact with world-renowned scientists. This year, students from around the globe got to engage with Lee Berger, one of the world’s top paleoanthropologists. Professor Berger discovered an ancient skull in the Rising Star Cave in South Africa, and since then, more than 1,200 more fossils have been unearthed, contributing to our understanding of human evolution. During this intimate gathering, students had the opportunity to ask Professor Berger about his career, inspirations, and what he hopes to discover next.

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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