Saturday, January 26, 2008

Scientists create synthetic genomes: Don't jump to conclusions

Scientists have created the first entirely synthesized bacteria genome . I like looking for connections in things, whether it be in literature, science, math, or music. This news article heavily connects with yesterday's post about zeros and ones. The impression that first jumps to mind when reading this story is that "Oh my God, we'll be genetically engineering a master race any day now". The fact of the matter is, writing assembly code is a lot different than writing in Java, the programming language I'm using, these days. To create higher structure than just a single cell will require a massive amount of research as well as engineering. I don't know the direction it will take, but from analogies to computers, I imagine they will need subroutines, to take common pieces of DNA and use them in different ways. DNA has developed by duplicating the same sections and then evolving subtle changes which confer a reproductive advantage. Decades of work, maybe more, is needed for this research to reach its pinnacle.

Still, this is an amazing achievement. Too much C02 in the atmosphere, create a bacteria to process it. The ability to engineer bacteria to suit our needs could open up whole new worlds to us, and greatly increase the standard of living for all humanity in the next century.

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