Well a thoroughly full day was had. I heard talks from “Radicalizing science” to engineering structures with DNA to smallpox erradication and google.org‘s mission. There was a lot going on that I am not sure I have absorbed it all.
The campus/venue is really amazing and well suited for this sort of collaborative meeting. Many breakout rooms and corners for people to get into deep discussion. The only problem seems to be making enough time to really meet people – mealtime seems to work great for that since you can try and randomly sit down with whoever.
Synthetic biology definitely seems to be the rage – can we engineer small cellular machines either as minimal organisms with just the pathways we want?
I have to say, putting together a conference like this takes faith in the people you invite and that people will really embrace a certain chaos in it and start building connections with people they don’t know. I found I gravitate towards the biologists, but am learning a lot from the specialities as well.
Biology has been called both a soft and hard science here which I find interesting. Physics and Chemistry are considered hard sciences while Biology is soft due to its imprecision. Is it the advent of massive amounts of digital data that makes it hard now (which still has uncertainty in it)? I am re-reading James Glieck’s “Chaos: making of a new science” and am reminded about how imprecise much of our predictions can be – if you understand that there is chaos operating in dynamical living systems does that make studying even more of a hard (to do) science?