DNA Driven World

This BBC lecture was posted by Edge.org and I thought it would be a good preparation for our upcoming February 25th talk by Craig Venter. Some excerpts:

To begin the process of change we need to start with our children by teaching them in place of memorization, to explore, challenge, and problem solve in an attempt to understand the world around them, and most especially the world they cannot “see” or feel directly. Perhaps, we can also start by changing the way we teach science in our schools.

So over a short period of time genome projects, which 10 years ago required several years to complete, now take only days. Within 5 years it will be commonplace to have your own genome sequenced. Something that just a decade ago required billions of pounds and was considered a monumental achievement. Our ability to read the genetic code is changing even faster than changes predicted by Moore’s Law.

At my company Synthetic Genomics, we have a major program underway in collaboration with BP to see if we can use naturally occurring microbes to metabolize coal into methane which can then be harvested as natural gas. While not a renewable source of carbon, it could provide as much as a 10 fold improvement over mining and burning coal. We also have organisms that can convert CO2 into methane thereby providing a renewable source of fuel.

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