90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Is Creating New Life — Maybe Even A Neanderthal — Possible?

Creating new life and bringing back old. Maybe even Neanderthal man.

Children watch a giant mammoth and a calf model at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany. (AP)

Children watch a giant mammoth and a calf model at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany. (AP)

Synthetic biology can sound kind of bland.  Like polyester pants.  Nylon stockings.  Synthetic – no big deal.

But think about it.  Synthetic biology.  Biology fully, deeply, maybe radically remade by man.  It’s well underway.

Re-engineering biology to make food, fuel, medicine.  Seeds that grow into houses.  Stronger, smarter humans.  Maybe even bring back the dead.  The extinct

My guest today has written about finding an “extremely adventurous” woman to give birth to a Neanderthal.  And he’s not kidding.

This hour, On Point:  synthetic biology creating new and very old life.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, and professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. Co-author of “Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves.” (@geochurch)

Arthur Caplan, head of the division of bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. (@arthurcaplan)

Jay Keasling, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UC Berkeley. Director of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center. (@jaykeasling)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Boston Herald “The headline flying across the Internet yesterday seemed too outlandish to be true: ‘Wanted: “Adventurous woman” to give birth to Neanderthal man — Harvard professor seeks mother for cloned cave baby,’ Britain’s Daily Mail exulted. And Harvard University geneticist George M. Church, the scientist at the center of the viral vortex, says it was: Way too outlandish, and entirely untrue.”

ABC News “Caplan said there’s also insufficient knowledge about whether Neanderthals would be too aggressive to flourish in society or whether they would die of an extreme unforeseen allergy. He compared the latter to the way Europeans accidentally killed the Native Americans by giving them small pox.”

Science News “Place an order with Ginkgo BioWorks and its researchers will make an organism to do whatever you want. Need to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere? They can engineer the insides of a bacterium to do just that. Want clean, biologically based fuels to replace petroleum taken from the ground? Company scientists will design a microbe to poop those out.”

Excerpt from “Regenesis”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rD5uNAMbDaQ#!

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 30, 2014
St. Louis county police officers advance on protestors trying to shut down Interstate 70 in Berkeley, Mo. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 near the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. where Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year old was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. (AP)

Police shootings, cop culture, body cameras. And the big debate over how to protect the public and the police.

Sep 30, 2014
In this Jan. 15, 2013, photo, Rosser Pryor, Co-owner and President of Factory Automation Systems, examines a new high-performance industrial robot at the company's Atlanta facility.  (AP)

Nicholas Carr says automation, all over, is turning us into zombies. Out of touch with the world. He’s with us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 29, 2014
A 1597 map of Lesbos / Mytilene, Greece by Giacomo Franco. (Flickr / Creative Commons)

How Aristotle invented science. The great ancient Greek, and life on Earth.

 
Sep 29, 2014
In this March 8, 2012 file photo, Peter Thiel speaks in San Francisco. (AP)

Silicon Valley’s Peter Thiel; the entrepreneur, investor and the PayPal co-founder’s call for deep invention.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 26, 2014
Friday, Sep 26, 2014

All of you love to listen to old broadcasts when we play them, and Taylor Swift loves the Internet.

More »
Comment
 
NPR’s Chris Arnold On Garnished Wages
Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014

NPR’s Chris Arnold took part in a remarkable new reporting series tackling the rise of garnished wages as a way to pay off debt. He talked to us today about the series.

More »
3 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment