Ars on your lunch break: the ins and outs of genomics, 30 minutes at a time

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2018-06-12

3d render of DNA spirals. (credit: Image courtesy of NIST)

Today we’re launching something of an experiment, connecting a podcast to the written pages here at Ars. For at least a few weeks, we’ll be running episodes of my tech- and science-heavy podcast in installments near the typical US lunch hour. To keep lunch from going long, we've got the episodes chopped up into 30-ish minute segments. Opening installments will go up on Tuesdays, then we’ll keep posting daily until the episode is complete (typically two to four days). If you prefer to read rather than listen, we've got transcripts available.

Your host will be me, Rob Reid—a long-time entrepreneur who now podcasts and writes science fiction. The name of both my podcast and my most recent novel is After On. The podcast consists of deep-dive interviews with world-class thinkers, founders, and scientists. My guests have included Rodney Brooks, the father of the Roomba and countless other robots; UCSF neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, whose clinical video games fight ADHD and dementia and have been featured on the cover of Nature; and the ever-controversial Sam Harris, going deep into his personal history and opining up about terrorism.

I talk about my podcast’s approach in the introduction to today’s segment, and I won’t repeat myself here. Instead I’ll give you a quick preview of today’s installment: it features the legendary bioengineer and genomicist George Church, whose Harvard lab is one of the most celebrated fonts of innovation in the world of life science. As I say in the podcast, George was one of the earliest drivers behind the Human Genome Project. He’s also one of the most prominent co-inventors of the gene editing technology known as CRISPR, and he has co-founded 22 life-science companies (yes, really).

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