Big Picture Science Radio Show - DNA: Nature's Hard Drive

DNA: Nature's Hard DriveThe biotech tool CRISPR lets us do more than shuffle genes.  Researchers have embedded an animated GIF into a living organism’s DNA, proving that the molecule is a great repository for information.  This has encouraged speculation that DNA could be used by aliens to send messages. 

Meanwhile, nature has seized on this powerful storage system in surprising ways.  Scientists have learned that the 98% of our genome – once dismissed as “junk” – contains valuable genetic treasure. Find out what project ENCODE is learning about the “dark genome.”

Plus, how viruses became the original stealth coders, inserting their DNA into ancient bacteria and eventually leading to the development of CRISPR technology.  Discover the potential of this powerful tool, from curing disease to making pig organs transplant-friendly, and the possible dark side of quick-and-easy gene editing.  

Guests:

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Paul Davies - Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University

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Yin Shen - Assistant professor, Department of Neurology, Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, member of ENCODE team 

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Sam Sternberg - Assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, and co-author of “A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution”  

 

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Hank Greely - Director, Center for Law and the Biosciences; Chair of the Steering Committee of the Center for Biomedical Ethics; and Director, Stanford Program in Neuroscience and Society