Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is best known for his landmark book The Selfish Gene, in which he suggests that Darwinian selection happens not on the level of the individual but at the level of our DNA. Also introduced in that book is the concept of the “meme,” a self-replicating unit of culture — an idea, a melody, a rumor — which is passed along from one person to another, its longevity based on its ability to lodge in the brain and inspire transmission to others. Dawkins has recently been at the forefront of conversations about atheism. His 2006 book The God Delusion offered a critique of religion and promoted scientific principles over creationism and intelligent design. His most recent book, An Appetite for Wonder is a memoir covering his early life in colonial Kenya, his intellectual awakening at Oxford, and the creation of his books and philosophy. His second memoir, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science, will be published this fall.
Jacob Ward is the science and technology correspondent for Al Jazeera America. The former Editor-In-Chief of Popular Science magazine, Ward has hosted television programs for PBS’s NOVA ScienceNow, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel, as well as written for The New Yorker and Wired. Ward began his career at The Industry Standard, covering the earliest days of the Internet, and went on to cover business, design and innovation as an editor at Architecture, Men’s Journal, and Popular Science.