GOD-LIKE

from : http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/god-like/

Scientists Create Synthetic Organism
http://npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127010591&ft=1&f=1001
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703559004575256470152341984.html
“Scientists for the first time have created a synthetic cell, completely controlled by man-made genetic instructions. Created at a cost of $40 million, this experimental one-cell organism, which can reproduce, opens the way to the manipulation of life on a previously unattainable scale. Several companies are already seeking to take advantage of the new field, called synthetic biology, which combines chemistry, computer science, molecular biology, genetics and cell biology to breed industrial life forms that can secrete fuels, vaccines or other commercial products. Synthetic Genomics Inc., a company founded by Dr. Venter, provided $30 million to fund the experiments and owns the intellectual-property rights to the cell-creation techniques. The company has a $600 million contract with Exxon Mobil Corp. to design algae that can capture carbon dioxide and make fuel. To make the synthetic cell, a team of 25 researchers at labs in Rockville, Md., and San Diego, led by bioengineer Daniel Gibson and Mr. Venter, essentially turned computer code into a new life form. They started with a species of bacteria called Mycoplasma capricolum and, by replacing its genome with one they wrote themselves, turned it into a customized variant of a second existing species, called Mycoplasma mycoides, they reported. To begin, they wrote out the creature’s entire genetic code as a digital computer file, documenting more than one million base pairs of DNA in a biochemical alphabet of adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. They edited that file, adding new code, and then sent that electronic data to a DNA sequencing company called Blue Heron Bio in Bothell, Wash., where it was transformed into hundreds of small pieces of chemical DNA. To assemble the strips of DNA, the researchers said they took advantage of the natural capacities of yeast and other bacteria to meld genes and chromosomes in order to stitch those short sequences into ever-longer fragments until they had assembled the complete genome, as the entire set of an organism’s genetic instructions is called. They transplanted that master set of genes into an emptied cell, where it converted the cell into a different species. The scientists didn’t give the new organism its own species name, but they did give its synthetic genome an official version number, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0. To set this novel bacterium—and all its descendants—apart from any natural creation, Dr. Venter and his colleagues wrote their names into its chemical DNA code, along with three apt quotations from James Joyce and others. These genetic watermarks will, eventually, allow the researchers to assert ownership of the cells. “You have to have a way of tracking it,” said Stanford ethicist Mildred Cho, who has studied the issues posed by the creation of such organisms.”

No Gods No Masters
http://edge.org/3rd_culture/age_of_wonder10/age_of_wonder_index.html
http://guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2010/may/20/craig-venter-life-god
“Craig Venter’s production of an entirely artificial bacterium marks another triumph of the only major scientific programme driven from the beginning by explicit atheism. Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, was a militant atheist, who refused to accept a job at a newly founded Cambridge college if it had a chapel, and who invented molecular biology partly to prove there was nothing special or mystical about life: it was just the behaviour of complex chemicals acting in accordance with the normal laws of nature. Now Venter says he has built a living bacterium from nothing but chemicals and code: “Our cell has been totally derived from four bottles of chemicals”, he says. In fact, it was grown using yeast as an intermediary, but to the molecular biologist, organisms are just another kind of apparatus. It looks like the complete triumph of the materialist programme. Atheists of the Dawkins type will take it as practical proof that there is no need to hypothesise God at all: we can make life without any miracles, and there’s no need to imagine a creator. Descending from these rarefied speculations, there’s a much lower and more urgent sense in which Venter will disturb theologians and atheists alike. The man who can make life can also give humans apparently godlike powers. “We are as gods and might as well get good at it” said the Californian visionary Stewart Brand 40 years ago; and Venter’s techniques should make it possible to engineer bacteria to do almost anything we can imagine, from cleaning up the oceans to supplying us with energy. The bacteria found in nature can work like the philosophers” stone, transforming almost any substance into anything. The trouble with gods, as the Greek philosophers observed, is that they were not any morally better than humans, just more powerful.”

1st Self-Replicating Synthetic
http://jcvi.org/cms/research/projects/first
http://jcvi.org/cms/research/projects/first-self-replicating-synthetic-bacterial-cell/overview/
http://jcvi.org/cms/fileadmin/site/research/projects/first-self-replicating-bact-cell/fact-sheet1.pdf
http://sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/science.1190719v1.pdf

Previously On Spectre _ Pan-Fried T-Rex with Apricot Mint Chutney Glaze
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/pan-fried-t-rex-with-apricot-mint-chutney-glaze/
Algae to Oil – Hacking Nature (for Salvation and Profit)
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/hacking-nature-for-salvation-and-profit/

Categories: Spectre Group Reports | Tags: | Leave a comment

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.

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