Synthetic cells!

I just did a search so I apologize if there’s already a thread on this.

Apparently, we’ve created life! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10132762.stm I mean, it’s just a couple cells, but I feel like that must be the hardest part, since we already know about toolkit genes and where to find them.

I’ve been wondering for a while how viable this was, and I’m excited to see what emerges from this. What are everyone else’s thoughts? Biologists, is this actually as cool as this BBC article is making it sound?

I think that at this point, we are all supposed to cackle madly, and break out in the Charles Atlas song. Also, really bad special effects are supposed to happen.

In other words, yeah, this is really, really cool. Now where’s my artificial pancreas?

Say what you will about Craig Venter personally (and there is a lot to say, not much of it positive), the guy is following through on what he set out to accomplish. Very exciting stuff.

Neither mundane nor pointless, but something I must share. Sadly not a robot chimp, but a bacteria cell using synthetic DNA.

What a world we live in, like living in Newton’s time when he came up with Newtonian Mechanics, the first artificial life. Just bacterium to start with, but where will it end? Growing synthetic stem cells, or entire new organs? It boggles the mind.

Not quite–

Also, I don’t believe they created mitochrondrial DNA.

Mm, but the genome is rather an important part; this is the first time we’ve been able to artificially create a cell;

Increase the Flash Gordon noise and put more science stuff around!

This is hella cool.

(But I’m sure Intelligent Design science could have achieved the same in a few years.)

Damn, apparently I should have done a search! Guess my enthusiasm got the better of me. An incredibly exiting breakthrough.

Just seen that there’s already a thread on this which I missed. Doesn’t seem much point in having 2 threads on the same story - mods, could I request a lock?

Heh - it’s funny when you say you did a search and the other thread is right above yours. :smiley:

ETA: Or below yours, as the case may be.

How about a merge?

Two threads on the topic merged – Holy hell, scientists make artificial life! and Synthetic cells!.

Ellen Cherry
Unsynthetic Moderator

Was a Tesla Coil at all involved?

Heh, you take the time to go and build a synthetic Prokaryote, and already they’re out there asking for a Eukaryote! You just can’t please some people! :smiley:

I have no idea at all about the background of this guy, but the very phrase, “The team was led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute”, sets off my spidey bullshit alarm bells.

Could he be the same guy who’s live 70 years with neither food nor water?

Not quite.
From Wikipedia:

Basically, he’s the guy who basically got pissed off at the Human Genome Project for being too slow, founded his own private company to decode the human genome with a “riskier” method at the time, decided to make all the information public domain along the way, and used his own DNA for it, and then ended up helping to beat the Human Genome Project by 3 years at decoding it.

He’s basically like the Tony Stark of the Biology world, hated for his brash methods and yet respected by many other scientists for his contributions to the field.
Last I had heard about what he was up to, he was described as basically using his private yatchsloop Sorcerer II* to go around the world collecting water samples and shotgun sequences the microbes in there, and basically “discovering” new lifeforms from all over the world without really following up as much on it, by just sequencing everything and noting where ever there was a new DNA sequence found, and basically getting credit for it (of course this was told to me by a very biased friend, but I’m just amused by that summary). I particularly like that image- he’s the rogue scientist, the Tony Stark of Biology, who beat the government at their own game, and thus the J Craig Venture institute.

*You can’t make this shit up…

That’s not right at all mate - 180 degrees wrong. Celera specifically set out to claim gene sequences as IP, they did the exact opposite of making the information public domain. This is in part the reason why there is great antipathy towards Venter. They also did not beat the publicly-funded project by 3 years, both drafts of the genome were published contemporaneously.

I believe that Tesla coils are mandatory in this sort of venture, for the proper atmosphere even if they’re not vital components of equipment.

I get this knowledge from all the bad sci-fi movies I’ve watched. And I’m a woman who draws a sharp distinction between science fiction and sci-fi.

Venter is also a first-class megalomaniacal asshole who pisses off everyone he comes in contact with. I am good friends with many former Celera and TIGR (The Institute for Genome Research) personnel - there were many unpublicized reasons (that I won’t go into on a public message board) why Venter left Celera, and why TIGR imploded.

None of this detracts from Venter’s qualifications as a scientist. His personality, while detrimental to many of the people around him, is one of the qualities driving his scientific achievements. Isaac Newton was a right bastard by all accounts as well.

It just did.

After all, this was only possible with an intelligent designer or a team thereof working at it.