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Artificial life - hip hip hooray?

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Injinia, May 21, 2010.

  1. Injinia

    Injinia JF-Expert Member

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    May 21, 2010
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    Synthetic life has been created in the laboratory in a feat of ingenuity that pushes the boundaries of humanity’s ability to manipulate the natural world.

    Craig Venter, the biologist who led the effort to map the human genome, said yesterday that the first cell controlled entirely by man-made genetic instructions had been produced.

    The synthetic bacterium, nicknamed Synthia, has been hailed as a step change in biological engineering, allowing the creation of organisms with specialised functions that could never have evolved in nature.

    The team at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, is investigating how the technology could yield microbes that make vaccines, and algae that turn carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon biofuels.

    The achievement has, however, stirred ethical concerns. Critics called for tighter regulation, citing the potential for bioterror or “bioerror” that could endanger health or the environment.

    “Though this is a baby step, it enables a change in philosophy, a change in thinking, a change in the tools we have. This cell we’ve made is not a miracle cell that’s useful for anything, it is a proof of concept. But the proof of concept was key, otherwise it is just speculation and science fiction. This takes us across that border, into a new world.”

    Julian Savulescu, Professor of 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 towards 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. But the risks are also unparalleled.”

    David King, of the pressure group Human Genetics Alert, called for a moratorium on similar research and Pat Mooney, of the ETC Group, which campaigns against biotechnology, said: “This is a Pandora’s box moment. We’ll all have to deal with the fallout from this alarming experiment.”

    Source: The Times (UK)


    ...makes you wonder - what else have they already 'created' in that lab that they aren't telling us about? A genetically-engineered human baby?

    I am also wondering about the significance of the fact that they used a Mycoplasma bacterium (probably not pathogenic, but with artificial DNA, who knows?) - will we experience another infectious disease epidemic as the one we are experiencing with HIV?

    And I haven't even touched the ethical/moral issues this raises. Does this prove the non-existence of God or His intelligence?

    Jamani!
     
  2. PlanckScale

    PlanckScale JF-Expert Member

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    May 23, 2010
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    Yes, for those who don't believe his/her/it existence, this is another proof of the irrelevance of the god ideology. THIS IS INDEED THE DAWNING OF A NEW ERA!!! Now I know why so many of god's books insist on not look into his/her powers - making it a blasphemy. He/she new we will know about creation, and that scares the hell out of him/her/it (god, that is).

    Kiranga was right, there is no god, and he is the prophet [of the ungodly]!
     
  3. Mtazamaji

    Mtazamaji JF-Expert Member

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    Ngoja tuone . Lakini mambo yakiharibika hawatasema hao .Ndio maana chanzo au kiini halii cha HIV hakijulikani mpaka leo Am sure HIV was manufactured unkwowingly in similar processes like these ones .
     
  4. Injinia

    Injinia JF-Expert Member

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    PScale, why go for the first option? How about the fact that this new development may be proof of God's intelligence?
     
  5. M

    Mzee2000 JF-Expert Member

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    Jamani someni the original paper yenyewe sio habari zilizoandikwa kwenye media na watu ambao hawana hata O level biology.

    Venter hakuumba kitu, amechukua vipande vya DNA(bado sina uhakika hii 'material' aliitoa wapi) na kupandikiza kwenye cell(kiini) kilichokua hai .Hiki kiini
    Dna ya kiini hiki ilikuwa imetolewa, je huku ni kucreate? No sio kuumba this is just transplanting.

    Kama angetengeneza DNA from scratch na vilevile kutengeneza kiini ambacho kilikuwa na 'life' ndani yake(this is the hardest part) basi hapo ameumba.DNA itself is not life.
     
  6. M

    Mzee2000 JF-Expert Member

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    No see what scientists say :Source Newsweek
    :
    This is just copy and paste biology:

    It's easy to get carried away in the wake of Thursday's announcement that Craig Venter & Co. have created what is in some sense the world's first synthetic organism. Venter's lab typed out the million letters of DNA that comprise the M. mycoides genome, had them translated into 1,000-letter chemical chunks, glued the chunks together using yeast and E. coli, and transplanted the result into the empty shell of a related bacterium (M. capricolum). Voilà: a cell "whose genetic heritage started in the computer," in Venter's words.

    His claims in yesterday's coverage are somewhat inflated. This isn't exactly the first synthetic genome. That award goes to the much smaller polio virus synthesized by Eckard Wimmer eight years ago. And there's some philosophical debate about whether Venter's creation is really synthetic, given that he didn't write the new bacterium's code from scratch. He took an existing species' code and tweaked it, adding those snazzy quotations and deleting 14 genes that might make the bacterium pathogenic. That's why David Baltimore, the pioneering Caltech geneticist, told The New York Times that "Craig has somewhat overplayed the importance of this" and that Venter had "not created life, only mimicked it." The equally prominent geneticist George Church provides more perspective in Nature: "Printing out a copy of an ancient text isn't the same as understanding the language." And as The Washington Post smartly notes, Venter provided the genes but not the context for them: "The recipient cell was equipped by nature and billions of years of evolution to make sense of the genes and turn them on."
     
  7. Kiranga

    Kiranga JF-Expert Member

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    As we learn and master more, eventually "God" will be out of a job.

    And more people will realize what a big farce it has all been.
     
  8. Injinia

    Injinia JF-Expert Member

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    Mzee 2000, even in my quoting of a newspaper article, nowhere did I allude to the fact that these scientists have 'created' Synthia.

    And give them some credit, although we might not all agree that what they have done is ethically acceptable, it was not exactly 'copy-and-paste biology'!

    As for Kiranga and the non-existence of God, each man unto his own, brother!!
     
  9. Nkamangi

    Nkamangi JF-Expert Member

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    God's existence (or non-existence) will not be proved in a laboratory. That is why God is God and man can not figure God out. I know my redeemer lives!
     
  10. PlanckScale

    PlanckScale JF-Expert Member

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    You do have a point, I accept that!
    But the excitement is in the future possibilities, and not on the first "baby step".
     
  11. PlanckScale

    PlanckScale JF-Expert Member

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    It would make sense if that God was a non-personal god - a sort of a unified law of nature, which imposes no limits on our ability to contemplate and understand the very laws of which, it [god] is a part of. In fact, this point of view makes the two options equal!
     
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