For years Craig Venter has attracted outsized attention and sometimes vitriol for challenging the status quo. Jealous scientific rivals have equated this maverick scientist, inventor and entrepreneur to Hitler, and Time magazine once described him as the "bad boy of science." Yours truly once compared him in a book to Dr. Faustus, the Renaissance physician who gave up his soul to the devil in exchange for receiving valuable scientific knowledge that incidentally made him rich and famous.
Three years ago many would have dismissed the notion that a significant supply of the world's automotive fuel could come from algae. But today the idea, while still an adventurous one, is getting much harder to ignore.
Catherine Cook, the 17-year-old co-founder of MyYearbook.com, explained why her service has become the third largest social network in the United States. Vint Cerf, the 64-year-old Internet evangelist from Google, conveyed his enormous optimism about continued prospects for the Internet, for which he co-developed the basic software underpinnings between 1974 and 1982. Tech pundit and investor Esther Dyson explained why she was putting her full medical and genetic records online. And John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, arguably the most successful large technology company, predicted that Net innovation would cause U.S. GDP growth to rise as much as a 5 percent annually, significantly higher than the current level of around 3 percent.