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Posts Tagged ‘artificial life’

Venter on DNA and the Sea

This is a video of Craig Venter back in 2007 discussing the progress they were making with artificial life – and how this might be adapted to various uses – i.e. ultimately replacing the petrochemical industries and other gob-smackingly outstanding ideas….   towards the end I was amused when he referred to the 18 months they took out for ethical policy studies… in which they delayed their studies in 1999, in which he says…"every major religion participated in this… it was a very strange study because the various religious leaders were using their scriptures as law books and they couldn’t find anything in them prohibiting making life… so it must be ok"….

Weird – on the one hand you have a guy talking matter-of-fact about stuff that anyone who’s NOT watched him most likely thinks is distant future sci-fi… and on the other hand what kind of crazy state is science in where it has (at least in the US, I hope to Betsy not in the UK) to go talking to religious leaders  for their approval – I thought they only did that in the dark ages!!

Anyway, thankfully none of this has stopped progress and they’re now so far advanced, you can’t help thinking that any day soon we’re going to hear something major – like an alternative to oil, cures for major diseases… it might be just Venter’s style but listening to what they’ve already achieved makes one proud to be around in the early 21st century. WELL impressed….. and his latest video wherein they’ve put together the first artificial working life complete with embedded website address in the DNA – well….mind-blowing…

Here are both videos – I suggest if you’re interested watching them in order…. the TED videos are just SO much better than watching pap on TV as they don’t have to cater for the lowest-common denominator – yet still usually manage to keep the talks surprisingly understandable to the lay-person.


The Miracle of Life – The Venter Way

Most people by now will be aware of the somewhat subdued British press reaction to J. Craig Venter’s team’s creation of the first self-replicating cell designed by computer. The BBC made some silly references to the hand of god and otherwise really didn’t do the subject justice.

Is this some mad-scientist tinkering or the real thing? Well most folk will never know as any in-depth conversation on the subject is too dry for public consumption and so your average Sun reader will no doubt continue to think that Venter sits there with a vial of chemicals doctoring cells.

All I can offer is the suggestion that you take a look at the TED video on this subject… this is FAR from mad-scientist stuff. Venter’s team understand so much at this point that rather than making a simple modification, their computer-designed DNA actually contains not only enough information to affect the design of the cell, but while allowing the cell to be viable, they’ve managed to ensure that the DNA of each replicated cell not only contained coded information on the names of the design team but they also have three QUOTES in there!!! Talk about proving the point!!!

Those of you who watched BLADE RUNNER will remember the artificial snake who’s skin sample contained a manufacturing number. Well, Venter and his team are FAR, FAR away from doing anything like that in terms of a snake – but on the other hand the information they’ve implanted in the DNA is WAY ahead of a simple manufacturing number.

If you can stomach the technical babble this is well worth watching.