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Brilliant Idea: The 10-Minute Lecture

Posted on : 20-11-2008 | By : Rebecca | In : Event

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As mentioned, last night I (and frequent Skepchick commenter Expatria) attended Nature Network’s pub event, which featured two guest scientists delivering 10-minute talks about what they’d do with limitless research funding. The first was Antoine van Oijen, who talked about the possibilities of studying a single molecule. His apt metaphor: if aliens visited Earth and collectively reported on the characteristics of humans, they’d conclude that each has one testicle and one ovary. He dreams of having the resources to color-tag a single molecule as it moves across a strand of DNA, watching as it encounters another molecule. To a layperson like myself, it sounded pretty neat, and van Oijen was very charismatic and accessible. Hearing the technical questions that came from the audience of scientists, though, I suspect I’m missing quite a lot. Homework!

The other scientist to speak was Andreas Mershin from the Center for Biomedical Engineering at MIT. I found him to be even more accessible, mostly because of the fact that his research has such clear practical applications in the real world. He’s working on developing bioelectronic photovoltaic applications, which I believe is a fancy way of saying that he’s trying to find a way to harness solar energy using plants. This is, in a word, rad. In multiple words, it is rad as all hell. Allow me to explain further.