Why would a company rent an office in a tiny town in East Texas, put a nameplate on the door, and leave it completely empty for a year? The answer involves a controversial billionaire physicist in Seattle, a 40 pound cookbook, and a war waging right now, all across the software and tech industries. (Transcript)
Tagged with “life” (13)
Richard Dawkins, J. Craig Venter, Nobel laureates Sidney Altman and Leland Hartwell, Chris McKay, Paul Davies, Lawrence Krauss, and The Science Network’s Roger Bingham discuss the origins of life, the possibility of finding life elsewhere, and the latest development in synthetic biology. More than 2500 people filled ASU Gammage Auditorium on Saturday, February 12 to listen to this remarkable collection of scientists whose particular perspectives range from the cosmic to the microscopic. “The Great Debate: What is Life?” was sponsored by the ASU Origins Project in partnership with the Science Network, J. Epstein Foundation and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The evening followed on the heels of its successful inaugural debate in November 2010, “The Great Debate – Can science tell us right from wrong?”
Scientists can now explain virtually every stage of the evolutionary process. But there’s a basic question that still mystifies even the best scientists: How did life first begin on Earth? Or to put in another way, how did non-life somehow turn into life? And can we say the Earth itself is alive? In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge we’ll talk with James Lovelock about his Gaia theory, and explore the question, What is Life?
This hour explores some of the fundamental mysteries of life - from how it first started on Earth to the possibility of supremely intelligent life on other planets and why technology is evolving like life itself. We begin with a rare recording of Nobel Prize winning physicist Edwin Schrodinger and comments on his book "What Is Life?" from Nobel Prize winning biologists James Watson and Harold Varmus. We also hear from Ken Miller, co-author of the most widely used biology textbook in American high schools, and Craig Venter, widely regarded as one of science’s leading innovators. Venter, who’s come as close as anyone has to creating life in a test tube, tells Steve Paulson what drives him. And we hear from some ordinary people about what they think life is.
University of Wisconsin geochemist Nita Sahai talks with Anne Strainchamps about how life might have begun on Earth. On the other hand, maybe the Earth itself is alive. That’s the remarkable idea behind the Gaia hypothesis. James Lovelock came up with it in the 1960s and at first no one would take him seriously. Lovelock, now in his nineties and one of our most celebrated scientists, tells Steve Paulson where the Gaia theory came from and how it’s evolved.
Kevin Kelly is one of the founders of Wired magazine. He’s also the author of a provocative book called "What Technology Wants." Kelly tells Jim Fleming that the sum total of our technology - what he calls "the technicum" - is taking on the properties of life itself. And anthropologist Tom Boellstorff takes us on a tour through the virtual world of Second Life. Astro-biologist Paul Davies chairs the SETI Post-Detection Task Group and is the author of "The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence." He tells Steve Paulson that alien intelligence might be stranger than anything Hollywood has dreamt up.
"Stories of filling in the blank. A man finds himself in a train station in India, with no idea how he got there or who he is. His memory gone, he has no choice but to let other people—police, doctors, friends, family—create an identity for him. In another story, people bid blind on the contents of abandoned storage units up for auction. (One tip: If you see large bags, go low; it’s someone’s old clothes.)"
Starts with the WWIII instruction set with Ron Rosenbaum, my journalistic hero!
Back in the 1980s Michael Larson made the most money ever on the game show Press Your Luck. And it was no accident—Larson had a plan to get rich that surprised everyone: the home viewers, the show’s producers and mostly Larson himself. This and other stories of million dollar ideas, including some from our listeners.
Mike Birbiglia had bizarre adventures at night, but just got used to sleep being slightly scary—until it almost killed him. Reasons to fear sleep, including roaches, bedbugs, "The Shining," and mild-mannered husbands who turn into maniacs while asleep.
Of all the 6.5 billion people in the world, what are the odds that any two people are a real match? Stories from people who know they’ve beat the odds—including two kids who travel halfway around the country to find each other.
"This story [of This American Life] includes excerpts from a radio documentary called "The Human Button", which originally aired on BBC Radio 4 in December, 2008. For more information visit www.bbc.co.uk/radio4."
Via This American Life 399: Contents Unknown, http://thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=399
This episode made me cry…
The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world. Locked in a vault in Atlanta. Supposedly unreplicable. But we think we may have found the original recipe. And to see if the formula actually might be Coke, we made a batch.
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