Heliophage


Eating the Sun in Edinburgh
August 24, 2007, 7:23 am
Filed under: EtS Events

I’ll be participating in two events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival over the bank-holiday weekend.

On Sunday evening, 19:30, I will be discussing the future of nature (concept, not magazine) with Martyn Amos, author of Genesis Machines. This is not about Phil Collins’ posthetics, but instead about DNA computing and synthetic biology, on which subjects his “lucid and punchy prose conveys a genuine excitement of the frontier” (Guardian review by Steve Poole). Apparently in this discussion I will be examining the role that plants might play in the future, though I fancy I may stray a bit beyond that brief.

Then on Monday afternoon at 14:30 I will be talking about the secret life of plants with Nicholas Harberd, author of Seed to Seed, in which

he explains how he and his colleagues at the world-renowned John Innes Centre in Norfolk are helping to work out how plants control their growth and reproduction in the face of life’s vicissitudes. He tells it like it is: not as a logical, inexorable progression from ignorance to omniscience but as a sequence of leaps and lurches from becalmment to epiphany achieved by – who knows? In Harberd’s case by cycling through the wind and hail of the Norfolk countryside, watching plants grow in a local churchyard and hoping for inspiration. Coleridge would have understood the approach perfectly. Success so far has been excellent – but still, it’s all to do. (Guardian review by Colin Tudge, and yes it is a small world…)

I’m enjoying Seed to Seed and wonder whether it should have been one of the Indy’s nature-book picks, but I don’t know what I’d oust to make room for it. Anyway, I look forward to meeting Nick and hearing what he has to say immensely.

Cross-posted on First Drafts — The Prospect Magazine blog

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