Science, Tech & Environment

DNA and Discovery

Shortly after her mother died of ovarian cancer, Jessica Queller had herself tested for the dreaded BRCA gene mutation. She tested positive, which meant she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer, and a nearly 50 percent chance of ovarian cancer. So Queller did the unthinkable: at the age of 34 - unattached and still wanting a family - she had both her breasts removed. Queller talks to Anne Strainchamps about her decision to have a double mastectomy. Her book is called "Pretty Is What Changes."

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Then, MD and best-selling novelist Michael Crichton talks with Jim Fleming about the ethical problems he envisions with permitting patents on human DNA. Chrichton's latest novel is "Next."

And, Sean Carroll is the author of "The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution." He tells Steve Paulson about new discoveries in evolutionary history, including the existence and purpose of fossil genes. Carroll is an evolutionary biologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and at the University of Wisconsin.

Finally, James Watson is famous for cracking the code of DNA, along with Francis Crick, and infamous for picking fights with other scientists and making inflammatory statements. His latest book, "Avoid Boring People" contains advice for young scientists. Watson talked to Steve Paulson and you can judge for yourself whether he's mellowed any.

And, Anne Strainchamps talks with two teenagers who were finalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Sarah Waliany and Caroline Lang explain what their experiments were about and why they like science.

"To the Best of Our Knowledge" is an audio magazine of ideas - two hours of smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. More "To the Best of Our Knowledge"