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  1. #1 Artificial life created in a laboratory for the first time by a maverick scientist 
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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/7...aying-god.html

    Dr Craig Venter, a multi-millionaire pioneer in genetics, and his team have managed to make a completely new "synthetic" life form from a mix of chemicals.

    They manufactured a new chromosome from artificial DNA in a test tube, then transferred it into an empty cell and watched it multiply – the very definition of being alive.

    The man-made single cell "creature", which is a modified version of one of the simplest bacteria on earth, proves that the technology works.

    Now Dr Venter believes organism, nicknamed Synthia, will pave the way for more complex creatures that can transform environmental waste into clean fuel, vaccinate against disease and soak up pollution.

    But his development has also triggered debate over the ethics of "playing god" and the dangers of the new technology could pose in terms of biological hazards and warfare.

    "We are entering an era limited only by our imagination," he said announcing the research published in the journal Science.

    Dr Venter, a pioneer of genetic code sequencing and his team at the J Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, have been chasing the goal for more than 15 years at a cost of £30m.

    First they sequenced the genetic code of Mycoplasma genitalium, the world's smallest bacteria that lives in cattle and goats, and stored the information on a computer.

    Then they used the computer code to artificially reproduce the DNA in the laboratory, slightly modifying it with a "watermark" so it was distinguishable from the original natural one.

    Finally they developed a technique of stripping bacteria cells of all original DNA and substituting it with the new artificial code.

    The resulting "synthetic cell" was then "rebooted" and it started to replicate. The ability to reproduce or replicate is considered the basic definition of life.

    Dr Venter compared his work with the building of a computer. Making the artificial DNA was the equivalent of creating the software for the operating system. Transferring it to a cell was like loading it into the hardware and running the programme.

    "This is the first synthetic cell that's been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome, made with four bottles of chemicals on a chemical synthesizer, starting with information in a computer," said Dr Venter.

    "This becomes a very powerful tool for trying to design what we want biology to do. We have a wide range of applications [in mind]," he said.

    The researchers are planning to design algae that can capture carbon dioxide and make new hydrocarbons that could go into refineries.

    They are also working on ways to speed up vaccine production, making new chemicals or food ingredients and cleaning up water, said Dr Venter.

    While a major technological leap forward the life form is still incredibly simple in natural terms. Its DNA is made up of 485 genes, each strand of which is made up of one million base pairs, the equivalent of rungs on a ladder.

    A human genome has 20,000 genes and three billion base pairs.

    Nevertheless it is the beginning of the process that could lead to creation of much more complicated species, and into a world of artificial animals and people only envisaged in films such as Ridley Scott's Bladerunner and Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence.

    Professor Julian Savulescu, an expert in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, said: “Venter is creaking open the most profound door in humanity’s history, potentially peeking into its destiny.

    "He is going toward the role of a god: creating artificial life that could never have existed naturally.

    "The potential is in the far future, but real and significant: dealing with pollution, new energy sources, new forms of communication. But the risks are also unparalleled.

    "We need new standards of safety evaluation for this kind of radical research and protections from military or terrorist misuse and abuse.

    "These could be used in the future to make the most powerful bioweapons imaginable."

    Dr David King, director of the watchdog Human Genetics Alert, said: “What is really dangerous is these scientists’ ambitions for total and unrestrained control over nature, which many people describe as ‘playing God’.

    “Scientists’ understanding of biology falls far short of their technical capabilities. We have already learnt to our cost the risks that gap brings, for the environment, animal welfare and human health.”

    Dr Venter has called for reviews so that debate keeps up with the science.

    He said: "It's part of an ongoing process that we've been driving, trying to make sure that the science proceeds in an ethical fashion, that we're being thoughtful about what we do and looking forward to the implications to the future."
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  2. #2  
    PORCUS MAXIMUS Rockntractor's Avatar
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    Well DJ is there really a Venter?
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  3. #3  
    Zoomie djones520's Avatar
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    I watched something recently, I believe it was Steven Hawkings Discovery special, that made mention of the idea that there maybe untold number of alien civilizations in the Universe. The point he raised is that we may not have heard or learned anything of them because it may just be that when they get to a certain point of technology, they wipe themselves out.

    We may very well be getting to that point. We had a couple of extremely close calls in the last century with the Cold War. Something like this may be our next great challenge at extinction.
    In most sports, cold-cocking an opposing player repeatedly in the face with a series of gigantic Slovakian uppercuts would get you a multi-game suspension without pay.

    In hockey, it means you have to sit in the penalty box for five minutes.
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    Zoomie djones520's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockntractor View Post
    Well DJ is there really a Venter?
    Huh?
    In most sports, cold-cocking an opposing player repeatedly in the face with a series of gigantic Slovakian uppercuts would get you a multi-game suspension without pay.

    In hockey, it means you have to sit in the penalty box for five minutes.
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    Senior Ape Articulate_Ape's Avatar
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    I just hope these here scientists are thinking this all through. If I was to make a new life form, I'd make damned sure that all subsequent life forms had their asshole on the sole of their foot. I gots me my reasons.
    "The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves" ~ JFK; from his famous inauguration speech (What Democrats sounded like before today's neo-Liberals hijacked that party)
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    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Articulate_Ape View Post
    I just hope these here scientists are thinking this all through. If I was to make a new life form, I'd make damned sure that all subsequent life forms had their asshole on the sole of their foot. I gots me my reasons.


    I'm not sure I want to know your individual reasons, but I think humans would have a definite advantage over such a species.
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    Power CUer FlaGator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Articulate_Ape View Post
    I just hope these here scientists are thinking this all through. If I was to make a new life form, I'd make damned sure that all subsequent life forms had their asshole on the sole of their foot. I gots me my reasons.
    That would be an interesting pair of shoes.

    I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
    C. S. Lewis
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    Power CUer NJCardFan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Articulate_Ape View Post
    I just hope these here scientists are thinking this all through.
    Reminds me of a line in Jurassic Park when Dr. Malcolm says, "But your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."
    The Obama Administration: Deny. Deflect. Blame.
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  9. #9  
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    MY favorite line in Jiurassic Park: "Oh. Great. We're in the hands of the engineers."
    "Today, [the American voter] chooses his rulers as he buys bootleg whiskey, never knowing precisely what he is getting, only certain that it is not what it pretends to be." - H.L. Mencken
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  10. #10  
    TANSTAAFL. asdf2231's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by linda22003 View Post
    MY favorite line in Jiurassic Park: "Oh. Great. We're in the hands of the engineers."
    Holy. Freaking. Cheese. :eek:

    LOL!

    Best line out of any of the Jurassic Park movies was: “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”
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