Has man ever synthesized life?

Have scientists been able to create life, from scratch (from the elements), in the laboratory?

If not, is it in the realm of possibility? How far has research gone into this?

Would resurrection, then, also be possible?

One beer is less than two beers.

All you have to do is look in the back of my fridge concerning creating life from scratch. I get so tired of holding conversations with new lifeforms that used to be a pepperoni pizza in a past existence.

“…send lawyers, guns, and money…”

 Warren Zevon

Hey Blue, my dad calls those things “lurks” cause they sit back there and lurk in your fridge.

Creating, no. Photocopying, yes. I myself photocopied pages 23 - 34 of last month’s issue of Life.

I believe scientists have been able to create amino acids in the lab using non-organic materials. Although amino acids are a basic building block for life, the step from a. acid to lifeform seems to require lots of time (millions of years) and a specific sequence of happenstance.

But to answer your actual question, no. Not yet, and probably not for a while. The right mix of compounds (not so much pure elements, but things like methane, etc.) jolted with electricity will produce simple amino acids.

This is a favorite subject of some fundies, who say things like “If life evolved spontaneously from chemicals here on earth, how come all you rocket scientists can’t duplicate the outcome, huh?”

Rocket scientists usually respond, “Uh, cuz we’re working on rockets, OK? Trust me, you wouldn’t want to meet any life created from hydrazine.”

Then the biologists say something like, “Sheesh, give us some time, willya? We’re new at this whole God thing!”

A buddy of mine does the whole microbio thing. I’ll e-mail him, and if he has any cool links, I’ll post them.

As to your last question, I’ll leave it to a fundy.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

Dammit, Papabear beat me to the punch. Gotta remember to hit “refresh” before hitting “reply”. Sorry ‘bout that.

You’re describing the Miller experiment. He basically took a bunch of chemicals which were believed to have been common on the primordial Earth (water, ammonia, carbon dioxide) and subjected them to a week or so of electrical sparks.

He got out a complex sludge of organic chemicals, including some amino acids. However, this is a long way from “life”. What it really shows is that it is possible for complex compounds to spontaneously assemble in the presence of energy; the argument then goes “if you can produce amino acids in a 5-gallon bucket given a week, it wouldn’t be horribly surprising to find that you could produce self-replicating DNA in an ocean given a billion years.”

OF COURSE a scientist can create life in the laboratory. All it takes is a willing person of the opposite sex… :wink:

beeruser asks:

Not far at all, for obvious reasons.

We create life (without recourse to prior attempts). We run out of the laboratory, waving the petri dish, shouting, “Eureka! It’s life!”

A creationist says, “No, it’s not.”
Without wishing to seem to subscribe to the creationist heresy, I would ask:
[list=a][li]How do we prove it’s alive, and not[/li][li]a scraping from the veggie drawer in the fridge[/list=a][/li]

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Only if they simultaneously ate Life cereal, read Life magazine and and belched…

Brian O’Neill
CMC International Records

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Creating life from raw chemicals would be orders of magnitude more difficult than is usually appreciated. People used to think that microbes were little blobs made out of this jelly-like substance called “protoplasm”. Just toss the right chemicals into a flask, shake and bake, and viola’! -life! It’s now known that even the smallest, simplest bacterium is a fantasticly complex molecular machine. To assemble one from scratch would be like creating a nanomachine.

The amino acids made chemically were “racemic”, that is mixtures of 2 isomers. Lots of chemistry is done with naturally existing materials, but this one property, optical activity, only comes from nature. It takes a lot of work to make tons of amino acids, as is needed for nutrasweet. They still had to throw out half, initially, the unnatural half. But, if using natural enzymes is allowed, we can do a lot. Very large pieces of DNA by now. Not enough for even the simplest “life”.

Akatsukami has hit it right on the head. The original question is meaningless unless accompanied by a definition of the term “life”. Those who think they can supply one are invited to share it with the rest of us.

The current issue of Skeptical Inquirer has as its cover story an article on the biology of life’s origin. It’s a pretty interesting article, though not as good as the book review of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Psychic or the news item on Dr. Bennett Braun…

Life really sucks…I just screwed up big time and got my walking papers…oh shit…wrong thread So sorry.

&&%$%#&^% Anyway


Okay, here’s my stab at a definiiton: Life is something that can subsist from its environment and also reproduce itself.

I mostly slept through biology class, so if anyone can give a better def, you’re welcome.

One beer is less than two beers.

Now all you have to do is define ‘subsist’. That’s something like living off beer, I suppose.


Keeves ponders:

There are certainly a lot of minor variants, but the commonly agreed features of life (as we know it) are…


  1. Obtain their energy from their environment through metabolism.
  2. Synthesize chemicals into highly organized and specialized structures.
  3. Respond to internal and external stimuli.
  4. Exhibit growth and deveolpment.
  5. Reproduce.
  6. Adapt and evolve over time.
    As to the original question:

(1) Scientists have managed to recreate some of the basic amino acids under primitive Earth conditions. (as has already been mentioned)

(2) Scientists have managed to combine amino acids to form RNA-like strands, though unlike viruses, these strands are not considered to be living. Also, given the nature of the process to create these strands, it’s difficult to imagine how this might have occured on a primitive Earth.

(3) Scientists have been unsuccessful at getting manufactured RNA to combine to form DNA under any conditions. Some scientist believe that once they achieve this, that a life form will naturally evolve. Other scientists believe that manufactured DNA will not naturally evolve and that we may have to intervene to cause controled evolutions of hundreds or possibly thousands of steps before we have a self sustaining life form.
As to resurrection, I’m not sure where you’re headed. Are you asking about something akin to cloning or are you asking whether life can be restored to dead cells? Neither one seems connected to the original question. Cloning (from living cells) seems to be well within our grasp. Reanimating dead cells is the stuff of horror movies, but I doubt that there’s any real research going on in this area.

To create life from scratch is hard. However, I’m quite impressed by beginning college biology. You essentially get to do recombinant DNA experiments. You create at least a new type of life, then destroy it. We never had that power in my days.
I can imagine the teaching assistant checking the lab bench at the end of the term:“Hey Johnson, you forgot to destroy your new life.It’s growing and flowing out of your drawer.”