Competition, as defined by the Oxford living dictionary, is ‘the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others’. Organisms, including humans, compete all the time – for food, for water, for a mate, for space. But should science also operate in this way?
In his new book The Gene Machine, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sir Venki Ramakrishnan from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology writes about the competition he faced in the race to understand the ribosome – a fundamental part of how DNA is encoded into the stuff that all organisms need to develop, live and reproduce. Nicola Davis sits down with Venki to discuss the idea of competition in science – could it be driving innovation or is it damaging research?