Regular price: $24.49

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2013 J. Craig Venter (P)2013 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    52
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    21
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    45
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Chris
  • Albuquerque, NM, United States
  • 12-15-13

Very technical book, not for the average listener

This is a very interesting book from the standpoint that it documents a very historical event with the creation of synthetic life. This book provides a detailed history leading up to and then the aftermath of Dr. Venter and associates creation of the synthetic biology. The book is well written, but the content is very scientific and perhaps is more appropriate for scientist and those who have a strong scientific interest or understanding of Dr. Venters work. The performance of the narrator is very good, and even the content of the books is good for the right audience. My opinion is that this book is not necessarily for the average listener. The content is complex and was above my understanding. Over this book is, and will continue to be a very important historical record for the actual scientific creation of the first synthetic life.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

It's a history book of the study of genetics

What disappointed you about Life at the Speed of Light?

You have to been a serious lab geek to want to listen to CV rattle off hours of names and dates and studies and names and dates and studies. It's like reading the results of a PubMed search out loud.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Just not there

I have a Ph.D. in engineering and thought that I would find this story interesting. But, it failed to capture my interest and I eventually gave up and moved on to other titles without ever finishing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A vision fulfilled.

The author, the great scientific genius, J Craig Venter, has stepped through a portal and beckons us to follow him through to the other side. He has fulfilled his vision, but presents the human species, particularly the scientific community with a dilemma, if we follow him, we endorse and subscribe to the notion that the structure of a living cell responds to the same laws of physics and chemistry that govern the rest of the universe. Specifically, the genome of a cell can be programmed, resulting in not just a modified cell, but a new species, a unique living creature.
Mankind is a toolmaking species. We have only had the tool of the modern computer in J Craig Venter's lifetime, and he has made the most of it. His work has demonstrated that the only limiting factor in programming any particular genome is the current power of the computer. And no one doubts that we are only on the first page of the development of this tool. It stands to reason that at some point, we will have the computational power to reprogram a more complex genome than that of a single celled organism.
A scientist in an earlier age concluded that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the universe of that time period. And as we all know, he was attacked because it disturbed mankind's particular notion of it's special place in that universe. But that scientist, and all of the other scientists that preceded him and have followed him have only described what "is"', they have not created anything. For example (using a current example), a great scientist might describe that the universe is not only expanding, but also that this expansion is accelerating. It is a great discovery, worthy of the Nobel Prize, but it is only a description of what is happening, using modern tools of observation. The observation and the description of the discovery has created nothing new or unique.
But J Craig Venter fulfilled his vision and created something unique in the universe. I am afraid that this will not be appreciated in his lifetime.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

One of my best reads for the year

This is a truly fascinating account of a cutting edge field. Genetics is like fire, or language, or radio waves, a literally life changing watershed moment in the human experiment. This book captures the history and the future trajectory-- transmitting DNA codes via radio waves to replicate life "at the speed of light"

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Couldn't stop listening!

While I don't claim to have an excellent grasp on all of the subjects covered, I found this book to be very educational and interesting. There were many things covered that I am currently learning in my microbiology class, and I found Craig Venter's passion for his work to be enthralling. I listened every time I got a break, and I know I'll be listening to this book over and over again!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great read!

Great read!
I did a presentation on venture when in grad school and have followed the rise of information in the intervening years. This is a well written well delivered presentation on genomics that can be enjoyed by everyone no matter what your scientific background is.

Thanks for bringing me up to speed and filling in the gaps in my knowledge

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The MAN Gets IT RIGHT

Would you listen to Life at the Speed of Light again? Why?

I live in Venter's world, and had minimal expectation from a 'Scientific Tell-ALL' but the book is provocative, stimulating and dramatic in it's mathematical insights. The reiteration of the Nobel awards would be enough but Venter adds verve.

What other book might you compare Life at the Speed of Light to and why?

The Double Helix, any of Francois Jacob's last three books, Isaacson's Einstein, Any of Feynman other than about Samba, Wilson or Slobodkin.

What does Bob Souer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He seems as a non-scientist and yet gets into the action and makes no errors with complicated virology and molecular terms.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The Only Actor who CAN play Venter- Robin Williams