What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Michio Kaku: We have taken cells from the carcass of an animal that died decades ago and brought them back to life and so it is possible using today's technology to take bodies, carcasses of animals that died decades ago and resurrect them in the form of clones.  Now we have also sequenced the genes of the Neanderthal man, meaning that at some point in the future it may be possible to bring back the Neanderthal man.  In fact, at Harvard University one professor even made a proposal as to how much it would cost to reassemble the genome of the Neanderthal man. And then of course, if a young Neanderthal boy is born then the question is where do you put the boy, in a zoo or at Harvard?

This is a question that we're going to be facing in the coming decades because it is possible that we might be able to bring back the mammoths.  We're talking about creatures that walked the surface of the earth tens of thousands of years ago and we have their genome and it's a serious proposal now that we're closing in on sequencing all the genes of a mammoth to bring the mammoth - by inserting a fertilized egg inside the womb of an elephant and having an elephant give birth to a mammoth.

Now dinosaurs are much more difficult.  They perished 65 million years ago, not tens of thousands of years ago.  However, something has happened that I thought would not happen in my lifetime and that is we have soft tissue from the dinosaurs.  I never thought it would be possible in my lifetime.  If you take a hadrosaur and crack open the thigh bones, bingo.  You find soft tissue right there in the bone marrow.  Who would have thought?  T-Rex's too and scientists have analyzed not the DNA, but the proteins inside the soft tissue.  Not surprisingly, we find the proteins of chickens and also frogs and reptiles, which means of course that dinosaurs we can now show biochemically are very closely related to birds.  In fact, we think birds are dinosaurs that survived the cataclysm of 65 million years ago.

Now there is another proposal to use what is called epigenetics.  Nature does not simply throw away good genes.  Nature simply turns them off.  For example, we have the genes in our own body that would put hair all over our body and you can actually turn that gene and create, quote, unquote, a werewolf.  In fact, in Mexico City there are two young boys with hair all over their bodies that are acrobats in a circus and scientists have sequenced the genes and yes, it is a very ancient gene that they have.

With chickens we can actually see the genes for chickens that were turned off because of epigenetics, genes that give webbing between the toes of a chicken because a long time ago chickens had webbed feet and also teeth.  You can actually bring back teeth inside chickens.  So then the question is, is it possible to make the next big leap to use epigenetics, to use gene therapy, to use all the different kinds of therapies we have, mix all these things up in the memory of a computer and have the computer give the best fit for a reptile that is like a dinosaur, insert that perhaps, into the womb of maybe an alligator or a whatever and perhaps give birth to an egg, which will hatch something resembling a dinosaur.

Well that's not possible today, but it's not out of the question.  It's not out of the question that at some point in the future we'll use a computer to take all these bits of DNA from living lizards, from the—extracting information from the proteins of soft tissue from hadrosaurs and assemble the best mathematical approximation to a dinosaur and have it give birth to an egg.

Directed / Produced by Elizabeth Rodd and Jonathan Fowler

 

 

Can We Resurrect the Dinosa...

Newsletter: Share: