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Old 05-21-2010, 08:54 AM
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Default First Ever Synthetic Cell. Fascinating.

This is a most fascinating scientific breakthrough, it has the potential for great good. I was thinking on the lines of chemical resistant, viral and bacterial immunity when I first heard the news. In the wrong hands though it could have the potential for great evil.

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A team of US scientists have created the first synthetic living cell - a landmark success hailed as a milestone on the way to create "artificial life".

The team led by Dr. Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California created a single cell organism - a bacterium - with synthetic DNA. DNA is the genetic footprint of any living organism. In this case, the DNA had been sequenced and recorded from an existing bacterium, and a synthetic copy constructed using so-called "synthesis machines".

The synthetic DNA copy was then transplanted into another bacterium, which in turn looked and behaved just like the organism dictated by the DNA footprint. Only the genome of the new bacterium was truly synthetic. The new bacteria replicated over a billion times, producing copies which contained and were controlled by the synthetic DNA.

Whilst this synthetic life was generated using a copy of the DNA footprint of an existing living organism, the researchers hope that eventually they will be able to design DNA sequences to create truly artificial life. Initially this technique could be used to produce medicines and fuels.

However, there are voices of criticism about this scientific breakthrough. Other scientists are warning of the risks of synthetic bacteria being released into the environment as their behaviour may be unpredictable. There are also ethical concerns and warnings of "unparalleled risks" of military or terrorist misuse.
First artificial life created by scientists - One News Page | Science
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Last edited by Spock; 05-21-2010 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:29 PM
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Hmm... i'm not sure I entirely agree with it. I'm still of the old-fashioned "If you don't really understand it fully, you shouldn't be messing about with it." and "Creating life is somewhat immoral." schools. As you said, it has the potential for amazing capabilities, but it could also, in theory, make an excellent biological weapon.

I personally would rather not take the latter risk.

Just my view on the matter.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:24 PM
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This "breakthrough" will lead to bad things only. It makes me horrified when I read it, because of the consequences this might have for the future of Earth.

That's all I have to say in the matter.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:55 PM
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This is a massive step in the right direction and a pretty phenomenal testament to how far we've come as a species and how far we are still able to grow (the room for development on this achievement is mind-boggling).

As far as my opinion on the "If you don't really understand it fully, you shouldn't be messing about with it." school of thought goes, I believe you won't learn anything about anything if you don't pursue the unknown. Things of this magnitude should, of course, be approached with caution and sensibility, however. There was a time when we didn't fully understand much as a species, but you've got to take risks if you want to pursue knowledge and satisfy curiosity.

I'm one of the apparently increasingly rare people that think all technological progress is a good thing. For every advancement that brings good, people will raise the issue of warfare/pollution/resource depletion, etc... These are all fair points that need to be combated, but we musn't lose sight of the good.

I'm personally very excited about the opportunities that this breakthrough has the potential to unlock in coming years!

Last edited by Leequilibrium; 05-21-2010 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:25 PM
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Pretty much anything can be used as a weapon, so there's no point in hindering any sort of research on that basis.

There are no bad advances in science, anything new is always good, because it enables us to do more or increases our knowledge and such. Technology is never the problem, it's only the idiots who use it the wrong way.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:38 PM
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^ True.
All technology can be misused if handled by devilish people, or cause unmeant harm when used by those who don't have enough knowledge to play with it. Just be honest for a while and imagine living ie. in the Middle ages without all medicine and technology needed to create it. You would probably die very soon. Only bad events on our way was done by fools/bad people, not science itself. So I think this is great achievement and the fact "If you don't really understand it fully, you shouldn't be messing about with it" is only partially true - never will protect us against misuse for military purposes. To be correct I am little afraid of usage in bad hands, but I am an optimist and believe in positive results.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquaplant View Post
Pretty much anything can be used as a weapon, so there's no point in hindering any sort of research on that basis.

There are no bad advances in science, anything new is always good, because it enables us to do more or increases our knowledge and such. Technology is never the problem, it's only the idiots who use it the wrong way.
Yup. It enables US to do more. But at was cost for the rest of Earth?
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:46 PM
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I'm going to quote something here that may seem kind of rediculous to some, but something that pretty much sums up what I think about these kinds of things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) - Jurassic Park.
Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:48 PM
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At what cost, Eltu? Perhaps it's salvation.

We tend to call the things we make that do complex tasks for us "machines." They are usually made of a variety of hard goods materials with a healthy dose of manipulation and construction.

What of biology? Biologic processes are nothing more than machines made differently. Input, complex activity, output. This is a gross oversimplification. Misuse aside, biological "machines" could be the very thing that eats up pollution and excretes something useful or good for the Earth. What if those "oil dispersants" they're using in the Gulf of Mexico on that huge oil spill were really biologically engineered cells that ate oil and discharged nothing more than water, heat and some sort of useful biomass? That's all oil is....old biomass.

My point is that technology of any sort can be misused to the detriment of the planet. But a very great deal of technology can also be used for it's betterment. The important thing is to balance all of the processes so that we don't destroy what is good.

I know that's asking a lot from humanity at the moment. It is an ideal, and nothing about ideals is ever guaranteed unless everyone "sees" together the best way to proceed.

Fkeu'itan: That quote from Jurassic Park is right on target. Caution is the order of the day. You never know....the Cylons might emerge from this whole thing too! But JP was the first thing I thought of when I read that article yesterday. It's scary, some of the stuff they're trying to do behind the scenes that we know nothing about.

Last edited by Taw Makto; 05-21-2010 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eltu View Post
Yup. It enables US to do more. But at was cost for the rest of Earth?
I guess I should have put it to do more with less, that is use technology to help conserve what little resources we have. But then again, as I have said countless of times before, there are no limits to human greed, so we are ****ed either way.

As I like to say, why should I care when nobody else does?
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquaplant View Post

As I like to say, why should I care when nobody else does?
Because when everyone say this we are doomed.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:17 PM
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I think it would be worth developing this breakthrough further. Sure there's a chance that it could be used as a biological weapon but that's only a maybe. Helping lives, that's more of a certain.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:08 PM
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I don't agree; mostly because I don't see the practical side of such discoveries. It also means that we're a step closer of playing God with things we don't actually know.

Remember the risk of producing black holes of the LHC?

We can reduce and take risks; but if things go wrong they could have lethal consequences. It's the prize of being such arrogant species.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:24 PM
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This could either be the answer to the problem or the cause of another one, only time will tell which.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Na'vi_supporter View Post
Because when everyone say this we are doomed.
But aren't we already doomed one way or another? It only depends how you define how bad things have to get from certain perspective to really use that word.
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