Craig Venter exists to define the word “Maverick.” Drafted into Vietnam as a young surfer lacking direction, he received a crash course in battlefield surgery. Upon his return to the States, he leapfrogged his way through the education system with a number of honorable distinctions and ultimately became the guy who mapped the human genome. Currently, he’s studying millions of microbial DNA strands—many of which he discovered—in the hopes of synthesizing a clean burning biofuel. I’m skipping volumes of information, of course, because chunks of it are contained in the interview with Craig for Wired Science which is hovering mere inches from this very text. The piece was taped aboard his science vessel, the Sorcerer II, which is also the subject of a piece I wrote for the January issue of Wired because it happens to be for sale to the tune of 5.25 million dollars.
Some have labeled Craig an arrogant man but I found him to be nothing but a gracious host, a generous interviewee and a fascinating presence. This experience was like eating Manna in a Nerd’s Paradise and I hurl much appreciation and thanks to WiSci (That’s how we abbreviate it on the show. Who has time to say Wired Science? Except for me just now.) and to Dr. J. Craig Venter.
I recommend his autobiography A Life Decoded to anyone who may be interested in learning how a person can break the rules and carve his own path in life. Also, it contains the most sex of any scientist’s autobiography I have read to date.