Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life


By (author) J Craig Venter

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  • Publisher: Viking Books
  • Format: Hardback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 221mm x 25mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 17 October 2013
  • ISBN 10: 0670025402
  • ISBN 13: 9780670025404
  • Sales rank: 246,430

Product description

The renowned scientist and author of "A Life Decoded" examines the creation of life in the new field of synthetic genomics In 2010, scientists led by J. Craig Venter became the first to successfully create "synthetic life"--putting humankind at the threshold of the most important and exciting phase of biological research, one that will enable us to actually write the genetic code for designing new species to help us adapt and evolve for long-term survival. The science of synthetic genomics will have a profound impact on human existence, including chemical and energy generation, health, clean water and food production, environmental control, and possibly even our evolution. In "Life at the Speed of Light," Venter presents a fascinating and authoritative study of this emerging field from the inside--detailing its origins, current challenges and controversies, and projected effects on our lives. This scientific frontier provides an opportunity to ponder anew the age-old question "What is life?" and examine what we really mean by "playing God."" Life at the Speed of Light "is a landmark work, written by a visionary at the dawn of a new era of biological engineering.

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Author information

J. Craig Venter is best known for sequencing the human genome. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a not-for-profit research organization dedicated to genomic research. He is also the founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics, Inc., as well as the author of "A Life Decoded. "He is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the 2008 United States National Medal of Science, and twice been named one "Time"'s 100 most influential people. He lives in La Jolla, California. Visit

Review quote

"One of the world's leading scientists delivers a history of molecular biology and its many ramifications depicted as it has been and will continue to be, a creator of the golden age of modern biology. His style is that of a dispatch from the front, urgent and engaged, as only a participant could write it, and the best of its genre since James D. Watson's "The Double Helix."" Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University "In 1943 Erwin Schrodinger asked the question "What is life?" Craig Venter decided to find out. The first step in understanding something is to take it apart. The next step is to put it back together. Finally, prove that you haven't neglected anything by building it yourself from scratch. In this articulate, precise, and uniquely first-person report from the front lines between biology and technology--commendably addressing the role of proteins as well as the nucleotides that code for them--Craig Venter sheds new light on Schrodinger's question, while explaining how his own pioneering work reading and writing genetic sequences between living cells and computers is enabling life as we know it to take the first steps toward becoming something else. A landmark account." George Dyson, author of "Turing's Cathedral" and "Darwin Among the Machines" ""Life at the Speed of Light" takes you to the frontier of science to explain the exciting potential of synthetic biology. Craig Venter, one of our most vivid and iconoclastic scientists, weaves the history of our understanding of life with his personal journey as one of the key scientists in decoding the human genome, and now one of the leaders of research into programming DNA and even making synthetic living organisms. It could prove to be one of the most important technologies of this century." Nathan Myhrvold, co-founder of Intellectual Ventures and former Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft "Humanity is entering a period of radical tra