I’m just back from a trip to the University of Southern Denmark to see Mark Bedau. Mark’s your average polymath, and one of the key thinkers in synthetic biology – most notably because, not only is he one of the directors of Protolife (who are trying to create life in the lab), he’s also a professor of philosophy. He’s also had an interesting brush with outsmarting casinos which I’ll certainly be touching on in the book. Besides all this he’s setting up a Scientific Social Responsibility movement (taking a leaf out of business’ CSR movement) which isn’t making him popular with some of the old guard of the scientific community. Some fear that his work in opening up the discussion around the ethics and applications of synthetic life will put funding at risk. I had an amazing chat with him – and he was very passionate about the book. I had a TV crew in tow who are using this visit to create a ‘taster’ of the accompanying TV series they want to get made – so I’ll post it up when they’ve done. It’s my first proper crack at TV presenting – and I have to say I really enjoyed it.
My abiding memories of this trip are not only the deeply philosophical and inspiring chat I had with Mark but Tom (Keeling, cameraman) doing an impression of Gollum that was, quite frankly, scary. Tom mentioned that an ex-girlfriend of his was actually turned on by this. We both agreed this was very wrong.