George Church

  • Aired:  10/04/12
  •  | Views: 21,331

Molecular geneticist George Church shares his book, "Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves." (5:26)

>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE HARVARD MEDICAL PROFESSOR WHO IS MAPPING THE HUMAN GENOME.

I JUST HOPE HE'S NOT USING THE IPHONE 5.

PLEASE WELCOME DR. GEORGE CHURCH.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) HEY, DR. CHURCH, THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING.

YOU ARE PROFESSOR OF GENETICS AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.

>> YES.

>> AND YOU A VISIONARY BEHIND THE PERSONAL GENOME PROJECT.

WHAT IS THE PERSONAL GENOME PROJECT.

WHY DO WE NEED A PERSONAL ONE.

>> THAT IS THE ONLY PROJECT IN THE WORLD THAT ALLOWED US TO SHARE OUR GENES, OUR TRAITS AND OUR ENVIRONMENTAL

DATA WITH EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD.

>> Stephen: THERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO DO THAT AND IT INVOLVES GETTING ON.

(LAUGHTER) OKAY.

IT'S EASIER AND-- I'M NOT SAYING IT MORE FUN BUT IT IS FUN, YOU SHOULD TRY.

>> YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.

(LAUGHTER)

>> WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO ANALYZE IT WITH COMMUTERS AND A FEW OTHER THINGS.

>> Stephen: I UNDERSTAND.

ARE YOU SPLICING THE GENES OF DIFFERENT ORGANISMS TOGETHER HERE TO MAKE NEW MATERIALS, RIGHT, WHAT IS-- WHAT-- HOW DOES THAT

HELP US?

>> WELL, SO WE CAN NOW MAKE REPLACE PETROLEUM WITH IN THE PROCESS FUELS, CHEMICALS, PLASTICS, ANTI-BUY OIKTS AND

SO FORTH.

WE CAN START MAKING THOSE NOW WITH BIOLOGICALLY ENGINEERED MACHINES.

>> Stephen: ARE THESE LIKE BACTERIA, ARE THESE ON A CELLULAR LEVEL OR YOU CAN DO THESE WITH LIKE LARGER ORGANISMS.

>> BIG VATS, IF IT'S COLLECTING CARBON DIOXIDE AND LIGHT IT WOULD BE FLAT SHEETS, LIKE CROPS, ALMOST,

EXCEPT IN CONTAINERS.

>> Stephen: AND THESE ARE ALL GENOMICALLY ENGINEERED.

>> THEY ARE.

>> Stephen: HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK WILL EVENTUALLY DESTROY ALL MANKIND?

(LAUGHTER) DO YOU THINK, LET ME-- COUPLE OPTION.

DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO BE LIKE A KILLER VIRUS OR MORE LIKE A GIANT MUTANT KILLER SQUIDMAN WHO ARISES FROM THE

PAS CIVIC BETWEEN EASTER ISLAND AND CHILE AND FEASTS ON OUR FLESH?

(LAUGHTER)

>> WELL, HOPEFULLY-- OUR BUSINESS IS TO DO SAFETY.

WE'RE KIND OF THE ENGINEERS THAT MAKE THE SEAT BELTS AND THE AIR BAGS.

SO WE ARE ENGINEERS-- .

>> Stephen: AND THERE ARE NO CAR ACCIDENTS.

>> THERE 1.2 MILLION PEOPLE THAT DIE IN CARS, THAT'S RIGHT.

SO BUT THE POINT IS-- (LAUGHTER)

>> Stephen: KEEP IT LIGHT, IT'S LATE NIGHT.

YOU'VE GOT A NEW BOOK ABOUT THE THINGS THAT YOU, I'M TO THE GOING TO SAY MAD SCIENTIST, I'M GOING TO SI

HIGHLY INVENTIVE SCIENCE.

>> THERE WE GO.

>> Stephen: ARE WORKING ON.

CALLED REGION SIS HOW SYNTHETIC BUY ONLY WILL REINVENT NATURE AND OURSELVES.

DO WE NEED REINVENTING?

WE WERE INVENTED ONCE BY GOD, THE ALMIGHTY FATHER, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.

ARE YOU PLAYING, GOD, SIR, BECAUSE YOU CERTAINLY HAVE THE BEARD FOR IT.

(APPLAUSE) JUST DOING MY JOB, RIGHT, WE'RE ENGINEERS.

WE'RE FIXING ALL THESE THINGS THAT ARE BROKEN.

>> Stephen: ABOUT ARE WE BROKEN.

WE'RE REINVENTING OURSELVES.

>> SOME OF US HAVE DISEASE.

AND SOME OF THOSE ACTUALLY CAN BE CHANGED BY CHANGING OUR, NOT ONLY OUR ENVIRONMENT WHICH IS ONE THING WE CAN CHANGE, BUT

ALSO OUR GENETICS.

>> Stephen: YOU CAN BRING THINGS BACK FROM THE DEAD?

AND WERE YOU BEHIND MITT ROMNEY'S PERFORMANCE LAST NIGHT?

(LAUGHTER) (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> WE CAN MAKE COPIES OF THINGS THAT HAVE ELEMENTS OF ANIMALS OR BACTERIAS, SO FORTH THAT WERE EXTINCT.

>> Stephen: OKAY SO, YOU ARE WORK ON THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH, RIGHT.

>> IT'S A POSSIBILITY.

FIRST THING THAT IS AMAZING PROGRESS IN THE FIELD IS BEING ABLE TO SEQUENCE THE GENOME OF THE LITTLE BROKEN

UP BITS OF DNA THAT ARE PRESENT IN MAMMOTH REMAINS AND MANY OTHER ANIMALS IN MUSEUMS.

>> Stephen: HAVE YOU EVER STORED ANYTHING ON DNA OTHER THAN ANIMAL INFORMATION.

>> WE STORED THE-- .

>> Stephen: HOW IS THIS BOOK ON DNA?

>> THERE YOU GO, 20 MILLION COPIES, DON'T EAT IT, STEPHEN.

>> Stephen: WHERE IS IT, WHERE IS THE-- WHAT DOW MEAN.

>> RIGHT THERE IN THAT DOT.

>> Stephen: HOLD ON.

THAT DO THE RIGHT THERE, WHAT'S IN THERE.

>> SO WE TOOK THE BOOK INCLUDING THE PHOTOGRAPHS.

>> Stephen: YES.

>> 0s AND 1st, CONVERTED TO ACCs AND Ts.

>> Stephen: WHICH IS THE CODE OF DNA.

>> YUP.

AND NOW IT IS THERE, WE MADE MANY, MANY COPIES OF IT.

>> Stephen: YOU PUT A LITTLE DROP.

>> A LITTLE DROP RIGHT THERE.

>> Stephen: OF DNA RIGHT THERE.

THIS PIECE OF PAPER RIGHT THERE CONTAINS 20 MILLION COPIES OF THIS BOOK.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

(LAUGHTER) (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: WELL, DR. GEORGE CHURCH-- (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: THE BOOK IS REGION SIS, GO GET IT LIKE THIS.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.