We Might Be the Comeback Kids of the Universe: Chris Mason on His Plan for the Next 500 Years

Chris Mason, Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine

Bio and Contact Info


0:00 A biology textbook as well as a roadmap for the distant future

5:20 Asimov’s influence and a haunting thought

12:06 "We might be the comeback kids of the universe."

15:22 Do you believe in Kant’s apriori?

18:57 The 500-year plan: to Mars and beyond

24:47 How well will our genome do on Mars?

30:22 Chloroskin and other fun genetic engineering tweaks

38:02 How do we avoid eugenics and ableism in the future?

42:07 Are you a reductionist?

Chris Mason is back on the program for our end-of-year special. He’s Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell School of Medicine and the author of such an outstanding book that we had to have him on the program a second time this year. Called The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds, the book delivers on its title.

Chris was deeply influenced by a book of Isaac Asimov he received at the age of 15 from his parents, writing that this book “never left his head.” Join us as he shares the haunting idea he received from Asimov, his ethical and philosophical positions, as well as the outline of his plan for the next 500 years—and a lot of other scientific tidbits. Any takers for chloroskin? The book serves as a summary of Chris’s years in the field of genomics—a basic biology textbook—as well as a passionate plea to take our common future—what for some of us seems a very distant future but for Chris can seem to be moments away—more seriously.

Happy Winter Solstice, fellow Earthlings!

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