I had an outstanding time at PopTech (no surprise). I heard some amazing speakers and met a bunch of wonderful people. I would have blogged more but I was in a perpetual state of intellectual disorientation. Each day, starting at about 8:30 I would sit down at my station and get firehosed with mind-boggling ideas. There weren’t enough breaks for me to assimilate the mass infusion of information that was injected into my brain. However, David Weinberger did a great job blogging about the conference and so I commend his posts to you (start at this link and work backwards).
I will take some time to gather my thoughts and perhaps post them later. One thing, however, that struck me about this year’s conference was the emphasis on biology, genetics and biomechanical engineering. I really enjoyed learning about the stunning breakthroughs that are taking place. And I was –for some strange reason– particularly struck with the discussion of “Telomeres,” which are structures found at the ends of the chromosomes in every cell in our bodies (and most all other life on Earth). They hold the secret to prolonging cell life, and, derivatively perhaps, the secret to prolonging human life as a whole.
One of the speakers likened telomeres to the ends of a shoe lace. That, in turn, made me think about my favorite Dylan Thomas poem: The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower. Somehow it seems an apt poetic description of where we are going with Life Sciences. Which is to say, I think it’s pretty clear that we humans are committed to manipulating the biological software of the fauna and creatures of our cherished water-filled planet.
Boy do I hope we know what we are doing. It’s not like we can reboot the planet if we make a serious mistake.