From Reading to Writing the Genetic Code: Another Step toward Creating the First Synthetic Life Form

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More news in biology today. According to the Guardian, private sector human genome decoder Craig Venter and his colleagues have succeeded in synthesizing an entire microbial genome using off-the-shelf chemicals. They plan to install it soon in a bacterial cell whose own genome has been removed where it will take over the cell and become the first synthetic life form, Mycoplasma laboratorium. Basically, the idea behind synthetic biology is eventually to transform biology into an engineering discipline with a tool box of mix-and-match standardized parts that can be used to create whatever life form is desired.

As Venter tells the Guardian:

"We are not afraid to take on things that are important just because they stimulate thinking," he said. "We are dealing in big ideas. We are trying to create a new value system for life. When dealing at this scale, you can't expect everybody to be happy."

And indeed everybody is not happy. Pat Mooney, head of the anti-technology ETC Group declared:

"For the first time, God has competition. Venter and his colleagues have breached a societal boundary, and the public hasn't even had a chance to debate the far-reaching social, ethical and environmental implications of synthetic life."

Whole Guardian story here.

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  1. […] the public hasn’t even had a chance to debate the far-reaching social, ethical and environmental implications of synthetic life.

    Clearly, Pat Mooney has been living in some sort of hermetically-sealed environment for the past decade or so.

  2. For the first time, God has competition.

    What am I, chopped liver?

  3. They say that can get odds on just about anything in Vegas.

    I wonder what the odds are for the various enslavement/annihilation of mankind scenarios due to our technology, e.g., A.I., nanobots, mutant bacteria?

  4. For the first time, God has competition.

    I think the religious folks should embrace synthetic life. Ultimately, this kind of intelligent design will replace evolution – in real life and subsequently in schools.

  5. God’s done a lousy job so far. Infinite resources and billions of years to get it right, and he comes up with this? He’s gonna lose the competition.

  6. For the first time, God has competition.

    Don’t forget me either! I was nurturing the first life while that God of Abraham was off smiting fallen angels. He showed up later to take credit for the life that I had brought forth.

  7. Well, I’d hate to see god have competition. After all, he did such a wonderful job with mosquitoes, tumors, infectious bacteria, viruses, prions, flatworms, intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and all the other wonderful creatures he was nice enough to create.

  8. I may not buy evolution nor the big bang but I wouldn’t be surprised if our little corner of the universe is populated by Synthetic Life Forms called human beings.

  9. People magazine has been covering synthetic lifeforms for several decades.

  10. “. . . and the public hasn’t even had a chance to debate the far-reaching social, ethical and environmental implications of synthetic life.”

    i.e. the public has debated it and didn’t come up with the answer I wanted.

    Though in my experience the public hasn’t debated it because th public just doesn’t give a damn – we’ve got more pressing concerns than what is and is not playing God (football’s on!)

  11. People magazine has been covering synthetic lifeforms for several decades

    Isn’t that synthetic breastforms?

  12. standardized parts that can be used to create whatever life form is desired.

    I’ll have a blonde, 5’6″, 120 lbs, 36 inch bust, fit, willing and insatiable.

  13. This is excellent news! I can’t wait for the day when I can order a Ford Mustang with the vagina option.

  14. I was raised in a fundamentalist church and I remember hearing a minister on stage challenging, practically daring, the world’s scientists to create a single blade of grass. Well, you did ask for it.

  15. The Merkinman really stepped up hier… wow.

    I got nuffin: the “flying car” comment somehow doesn’t work at all…

  16. Fools! There is no God to compete with! Beyond this world there is only Dark, and I am the Lord of the Dark.

  17. *sneaks up behind Melkor and pantses him*

  18. Now I shall duel with VM!

  19. But it is said that Melkor did not willingly duel with VM, for though he was the mightiest being in the world, he was the only one of the Valar to know fear…

  20. How the following comment was not first befuddles and bemuses me and says how far the Hit & Run commentary has fallen from its once mighty perch:

    Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive. . . . It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!
    * * *
    Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!

  21. Joyce Kilmer once wrote “But only God can make a tree.” I say we create a tree, then re-animate Joyce Kilmer, and do the Nelson “haha!” at him (yeah, Joyce was a he).

  22. “For the first time, God has competition.”

    I thought the MSM had finally discovered URKOBOLD.

  23. DONG FENCING!!!!!!!!!

    ooh! better! yet! JOUSTING!!!!!!!!!

    *reaches for cheetos to get ready*

  24. ANONYMO SHALL DISCOVER MSG NOW. THEN REMOVE IT FROM HIS DIET.

    NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 20 NAUGHTY PIE PUSHUPS

  25. Joyce Kilmer once wrote “But only God can make a tree.”

    Actually, I once saw a leprechaun shit a rose bush. But who’s counting.

  26. Sure, God can make a tree, but can he make a tree dance?

  27. Sure, God can make a tree, but can he make a tree dance?

    No, but this guy was able to.

  28. I think every writer should get a traditional education. You can work at the essay writing service at least.

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