Thursday, May 20, 2010

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Department

I often make facestious comments about "Dr. Evils" -- mad genius scientists, academics, and the like -- who experiment with nefarious intent. Here's a real life example, that sounds like it should be an Onion piece or a plot from a graphic novel:
Dr Craig Venter, a multi-millionaire pioneer in genetics,[italics mine]
has created life in his lab. Venter's "team":

. . . manufactured a new chromosome from artificial DNA in a test tube, then transferred it into an empty cell and watched it multiply – the very definition of being alive.
The article explains how they did it, and Venter says it's "synthetic" life. It started out this way:
First they sequenced the genetic code of Mycoplasma genitalium, the world's smallest bacteria that lives in cattle and goats, and stored the information on a computer. 
Then they did more stuff involving bacteria and moving "watermarks" and all. Venter says, of the implications for this new, --  um, invention? -- :
"This becomes a very powerful tool for trying to design what we want biology to do. We have a wide range of applications [in mind]," he said.
What "we want biology to do?"  Doesn't biology have its own ideas?
As to that last comment about a "wide range of applications" I bet they do indeed.

Thanks to Professor Hex for the link.

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