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Scientific Controversies (Sci Con) is a series of conversations between scientists on unsolved quandaries, hosted by PW Director of Sciences Janna Levin.

All living organisms execute the instructions written in their fundamental genetic code. Nature invented ingenious mechanisms to copy and edit that code, reproducing cells, evolving new species, or killing the original entity. Scientists have learned to copy and edit genetic code too, with ever cheaper and accessible tools. We can now clone animals and animate new life forms. DNA hackers promise genetically engineered cures for cancer, or retroviruses like HIV, or any genetic affliction. Though a virtuous aspiration, eradication of disease will not be the end of our interest in manipulating the code. Should we consider writing the blueprints of our successors, a species smarter, stronger, healthier than us?

The Pioneer Works Director of Sciences, Janna Levin, hosts Nobel laureate David Baltimore and geneticist Feng Zhang in conversation on the genetics and the future of life and death.

Pop-up genetics experiment courtesy of Barnard College, BrooklynBio, and BioTech Without Borders.

Join us after the conversation for star gazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association of NY in the garden and DJ Black Helmet’s set of rare grooves in the North Hall.

This project is supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.