A Life Decoded Book Summary - A Life Decoded Book explained in key points
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A Life Decoded summary

J. Craig Venter

My Genome: My Life

4 (24 ratings)
19 mins
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    A Life Decoded
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    During his childhood, Venter discovered that he loved taking risks, facing challenges and constructing.

    Among J. Craig Venter’s most vivid memories from his early childhood is his freedom. Born in 1946, Venter grew up in Millbrae, a small town 15 miles south of San Francisco, California. During his childhood, his parents would often just tell him to “go play.” With this liberty, Venter first discovered three lasting personal traits.

    As a young boy, Venter loved taking risks and facing challenges. One of his favorite destinations was the local airport, San Francisco International Airport, where he would watch the planes taking off and landing. In the ‘50s, the airport was very different from how it is today: there was no security, no cameras and no wired fences.

    Together with his friends, Venter came up with the idea to race the airplanes on the runway. They’d wait until a plane started to taxi in preparation for its ascent, and then they would jump onto their bikes to race it for as long and as far as they could.

    Pilots occasionally notified the control tower, which then dispatched the airport police. But because the runway was such a long way from the terminal, the boys could always escape easily.

    Another key trait that became apparent early on was Venter’s insatiable urge to build things.

    Venter’s efforts at construction were modest at the beginning, mostly small but elaborate tunnels and forts. School curriculums were never among Venter’s interests or strengths – he wanted to do something practical. So, in the seventh grade he built an electronic scoreboard for the junior high school baseball field.

    In his woodworking class, instead of making furniture, he built a complex hydroplane, a motorboat based on a new design that had set a speed record of 60 mph. The young Venter would do anything to get his hands on the material he needed to build things from scratch.

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    What is A Life Decoded about?

    A Life Decoded (2007) is the autobiography of the prominent American biochemist and geneticist Craig Venter, who played a key role in one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time – the deciphering of the human genetic code. These blinks describe the personal experiences that drove his scientific research, even at times when his methods were attacked by the scientific community.

    Best quote from A Life Decoded

    I think that one reason I was able to become a successful scientist was that my natural curiosity was not driven out of me by the education system.

    —J. Craig Venter
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    Who should read A Life Decoded?

    • Biologists, chemists, biochemists and geneticists
    • Anyone curious about scientific achievements and a life dedicated to science

    About the Author

    J. Craig Venter is a biochemist and geneticist, and is considered one of the leading scientists of the twenty-first century. In 2001, Venter published the complete sequence of the human genome. He is the founder of Celera Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). Venter is also the author of the book Life at the Speed of Light.

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