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Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" and J. Craig Venter

For generations, scientists have wrestled with the idea of creating new forms of life in the laboratory. Now that age is upon us.

The latest milestone occurred this summer when microbiologist J. Craig Venter announced that a team of his scientists had created a synthetic bacteria designed on a computer, with man-made DNA. The announcement was greeted with a mixture of praise, skepticism and rancor, which is familiar territory for Venter.

He is one of the most famous scientists in the world, known for his pioneering work in deciphering the human genetic code. But he is also one of the most controversial - an iconoclast with a brilliant mind and an outsized ego who has flaunted the conventional wisdom, and tweaked the staid scientific establishment at every turn.

You don't have to spend much time with Venter to understand that he likes to go fast, as "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft found out first-hand when the scientist took Kroft for a spin in his Aston Martin.

Venter is an adrenaline junky, whose willingness to take big risks has led to... see more