Nathan Myhrvold is a professional jack-of-all-trades. After leaving Microsoft in 1999, he's been a world barbecue champion, a wildlife photographer, a chef, a contributor to SETI, and a volcano explorer.

Why you should listen

Since leaving his post as Microsoft's Chief Technology Officer in 1999 (with fortune in tow), Nathan Myhrvold has been a professional exemplar of the spirit of the "Renaissance Man," proudly following his interests wherever they've led. His dispersed passions have triggered an impressive list of accomplishments, including world barbecue championships, major archeological finds (several Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons), prize-winning wildlife photography, building a section of Babbage's Difference Engine #2, s, and a new and consuming interest in the sous-vide cooking technique.

Malcolm Gladwell's 2008 New Yorker profile of him revealed an impish but truly inspired character whose latest company, Intellectual Ventures -- which brainstorms and patents a wide array of inventions --  has been accused in some quarters of acting like a 'patent troll' but is described by Myhrvold as "a disruptive organization providing  an efficient way for patent holders to get paid for the inventions they own, and... for technology companies to gain easy access to the invention rights they need." After funding big-vision projects such as the Allen Telescope Array, exploring active volcanoes and investigating penguin digestion, Myhrvold insists that his hobbies aren't as discursive as they seem. They do have a common denominator, after all: him.

What others say

"He is gregarious, enthusiastic, and nerdy on an epic scale." — Malcolm Gladwell

Nathan Myhrvold’s TED talks

Nathan Myhrvold on the TED Blog

Biology

New Edge videos explore the staggering potential of genetics

July 31, 2009

What is life? Can we create it? Customize it? Edge has just published over six hours of video from their new Master Class on the future of biology, which attempts to answer those and other provocative questions. Featuring geneticists George Church and Craig Venter, the set is a a surprising, challenging look at what science […]

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Nathan Myhrvold on archeology, animal photography, BBQ … on TED.com

June 4, 2008

Nathan Myhrvold talks about a few of his latest fascinations — animal photography, archeology, BBQ and generally being an eccentric genius multimillionaire. Listen for wild stories from the (somewhat raunchy) edge of the animal world. (Recorded February 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 19:28.) Watch Nathan Myhrvold’s talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate […]

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Quotes from Nathan Myhrvold