Patt Morrison for February 12, 2010

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Getting personal with your genome, thanks to George Church

George Church’s pioneering research on the human genome helped launch the Human Genome Project, but mapping the genome was just the start. Now Church’s Personal Genome Project is seeking the next step—allowing individuals to have their own genome sequenced so that they may use this information to understand their risk profiles for disease, their physical & biological characteristics. How could this information help to predict and combat genetic diseases; how could this information be potentially abused by more malicious actors? Church joins Patt to talk about the science and ethics of the personal genome.
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Sam Harris picks a fight with God

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, an amazing 92% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit—even one in five of self-identified atheists believe in a higher power. Ardent secularist Sam Harris isn’t deterred by those numbers, and in fact has made it his life’s mission to force the faithful to question their religious faith—Harris would even argue that the future of civilization is dependent on it. Questioning commonly held assertions and wisdom found in the Bible; seeking out debates with theologists across the spectrum, from Judaism to Christianity to Islam; and all but picking a fight with God, Sam Harris takes his secular crusade to Patt’s microphone.
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A cure for HIV-AIDS, or at least a vaccine, is on the horizon

While the rates of HIV-AIDS have stabilized or even declined in the developed world, the Third World continues to grapple with the devastating consequences of the autoimmune deficiency disease. Drug cocktails have helped to make AIDS a more survivable disease (again, mostly in the developed world) but bigger advancements in an HIV vaccine are just over the horizon. Patt talks with two of the most prominent researchers and activists on HIV-AIDS, and focuses on the hopes for cure and prevention.
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The Edison of our time

In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee had an idea to revolutionize the world we live in. Many people have plans to change the planet for the better; the only difference is that Tim Berners-Lee actually did. In 1990 he developed the rough version of the World Wide Web. You would think that would be sufficient enough for any computer scientist, but there is no rest for the brilliant. Mr. Berners-Lee has now focused on the next iteration of the internet, with a much stronger spotlight on utilizing all of the “Raw Data” that the current internet provides.
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Fear of science

Michael Specter is troubled. He’s concerned about what he sees as a growing rejection of science. He believes that the fear of science has hit such an apex that parents are refusing to vaccinate their children due to an unfounded connection to autism, that people are shunning genetically modified foods that have potential of helping the world fight hunger. He sees crucial funds being re-directed to herbal and holistic supplements, when they could be directed in other scientific based avenues. Has the media created fear without any scientific basis? Have we started fearing scientific advances, instead of embracing them? Patt talks to Michael Specter about his growing fear.
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