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Thursday, May 20, 2010

A New Thing Under the Sun



Also, from NYTimes.com


The genome pioneer J. Craig Venter has taken another step in his quest to create synthetic life by synthesizing an entire bacterial genome and using it to take over a cell.
Dr. Venter calls the result a “synthetic cell” and is presenting the research as a landmark achievement that will open the way to creating useful microbes from scratch to make products like vaccines and biofuels. At a press conference Thursday, Dr. Venter described the converted cell as “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.”
“This is an important step, we think, both scientifically and philosophically,” Dr. Venter said in an interview with the journal Science, which is publishing the research this week. “It’s certainly changed my views of definitions of life and of how life works.”
Other scientists agree that he has achieved a technical feat in synthesizing the largest piece of DNA so far — a million units in length — and in making it accurate enough to substitute for the cell’s own DNA.

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