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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] remarkable book.”

    Scientific American

  • “Craig Venter is a singular individual…at once inheritor of molecular biology’s prior triumphs and the wellspring of its future…He compellingly depicts his diverse research as a concerted effort to shuttle biology between the material and the digital worlds…A gripping tale and welcome antidote to dry materials and methods sections that make such sagas feel disembodied and inevitable.”

    Science

  • “When scientists finally succeed in transmitting to another galaxy the digital instructions for building a living organism, they will rely on science that Venter has pioneered…Readers will thank Venter for an insider’s perspective on epoch-making science.”

    Booklist

  • “A fascinating glimpse at a scientific frontier—not always easily understandable but well worth the effort.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author
Author J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter is one of the leading scientists of the twenty-first century and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute. A pioneer in the world of genomic research, he is recognized for his visionary contributions to the field. In February 2001, Venter published the completed sequence of the human genome. He lives near Washington, DC.