And Man made Life

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It’s now wandering around saying that we must not exist because, hell, cells are mean to other cells.Report

  2. Avatar Zach says:

    It’s crazy that this is such big news, but that their synthetic genome construction 2 years ago wasn’t. Nor was the cross-species transplantation of chromsomes at roughly the same time by the same folks. Both of those were greater accomplishments than the synthesis of the two.

    The no ancestor bit isn’t particularly accurate. Both the cellular material (aside from DNA) and the code itself have a well defined ancestry. I could trivially synthesize phage DNA, incorporate it into a bacterial chromosome, and produce bacteriophage that did not result from infection by an actual phage (whether phage is life or not is debatable, I suppose).Report

    • Avatar Zach in reply to Zach says:

      @Zach, also, oddly, I was really confused when this news came out and thought that this had already happened. I must’ve dozed off when I saw Craig Venter talk two years ago; he spoke about both the synthetic genome and chromosome transplant projects, and I thought they were one in the same.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Zach says:

      @Zach, I thought the Economist was saying it wasn’t reproduced from a living ancestor cell of the exact same type. Is that not true?Report

      • Avatar Zach in reply to Rufus F. says:

        @Rufus F., This is true. It was reproduced from the genetic material of one organism copied and then transplanted into a similar, but different type of organism. The hard part is the copying bit (it’s a technical challenge to make a circular piece of DNA that large; one that they’ve refined since first reporting on its success) and the transplant bit (more or less just mixing cells and the right chemicals and hoping it works; the hard part is getting rid of the chromosome of the host cell… they came up with a very clever way to do this). Both of these were accomplished a couple years ago, and at the time it was assumed that this next step would be relatively trivial.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Zach says:

          @Zach, Ah, okay, I was under the impression that they’d essentially hacked the genetic material and made something very similar, but still new. That would seem to qualify as creating new cell life. So, I guess my question would be has anyone has yet done that?Report

  3. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    I blame gay marriage.

    On a more serious note, while I realize that some conservatives are indeed up in arms about this, why aren’t they more so? Isn’t this much, much more obviously an affront to the laws of nature and of their God?Report