The latest iteration of the Humanist Symposium, # 14 to be exact, is up over at Countries Beginning With I. Check it out. Lot’s of good reading there. Ignore the advertisement for the movie “Expelled”. 8)
Also, in the “interesting developments in science” Department, National Geographic has an article describing how geneticists have created the first synthetic genome. Apparently they have stitched together the genome of the smallest free-living bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium.
The new work is an important second step in a three-step process to the creation of synthetic life, said research leader Hamilton Smith, a biologist and Nobel laureate at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland.
The first step, reported last year by the same team at Venter’s institute, was the successful transplantation of a genome from one species of bacteria into another, effectively switching the bug’s identity.
“The third step, which we’re working on now, is to take the chemically synthesized DNA, which is in the test tube, and get it into a bacterium where it can take over and produce a synthetic cell,” Smith said.
Coincidentally, this is related to the first story I reported on a few days ago, in Keeping Up With Science.
Once they have created a synthetic copy of the bacteria, scientists can begin to eliminate genes to determine which are essential. Such an accomplishment would then allow scientists to create synthetic life-forms that may one day produce biofuels, clean up toxic waste, and fight global warming. (Related: “Gene-Altered Plant, Tree Can Suck Up Toxins” [October 15, 2007].)
Read the article to find out how e. coli and brewers yeast played a part in the process. And then, be amazed:
By 2012, he added, the technology should exist to routinely design and construct genomes of any bacteria or single-celled organism with a membrane-bound nucleus.
“Which also means,” he said, “that it will be possible to construct some mammalian chromosomes.”
For all you Christians who think science is bunk, and that Jurassic Park was science fiction, think again. The Bible is passé and the world is moving past you.