Artificial Life has arrived

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by baftan, May 20, 2010.

  1. Grim_Reaper I Am Death Destroyer of Worlds Registered Senior Member

    Exactly once the cell divides and then divides again it is no longer the original Ceil it is made up of the sequence it received from the parent cell hence article life. Agreed that the first cell was a hybrid so to speak but each cell after the first was unique in the fact that it was from the original cell that was created by a person in a lab with a synthetic DNA stranded.
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  3. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Here the conundrum, there no way to tell a culture of a bioroid that was created using a host cell and a culture of a bioroid that was created entirely synthetically (by how ever you define synthetic) after several generations all bio-molecules of the organizational host cell are gone, having been diluted, destroyed and recycled to make the new organism. If I took you and placed a robotic seed of some kind in your body and that seed replaces everything in your body with mechanical robotics parts, you can't say that you are not a physically a robot now or that a robot was not created just because a biological organism was used as a frame.
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Is there not a need / desire to answer the question of how life may have begun?
    The "holy grail" in all this, imo, is creating "life" from otherwise inert materials.
    We have now demonstrated one part... taking synthetic DNA and inserting it in to an existing cell.
    The next part is to create the cell.
    Then we combine both the synthetic cell and synthetic DNA... and we have created life from scratch. We might only need to do it once. To show that we can. But it is still a worthy endeavour.

    Why climb Everest? Why try to run 100m quicker than everyone else?
    Because it is a challenge - and in the case of creating a totally synthetic cell it is probably the greatest challenge in science... to put together inert chemicals to create the DNA (now done) and the cell (to be done) and create a living thing.

    I have no doubt that there is "no need" to create a synthetic cell from scratch for anything other than the intellectual challenge of doing so and to expand our understanding of how life might have begun from inert molecules.
    But if that is not sufficient cause to try... :shrug:
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  7. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

    Conditionally agreed: My objection could be to "challenge in science" bit. I take it rather a great "technological" challenge. But apart from that, the challenge itself already provides enough reason to pursue it. On top of it, if we really insist upon finding a practical benefit, I think the process has been contributing great deal of mastery over matter as well as questioning our ethics, culture, civilization alongside.

    How can we deny the fact that this process has developed new tool boxes; wider terminology, machinery, perspective, and methods which are devoted to this area and will be available for future developments? How can we quickly judge from today that this challenge has or has not opened new dimensions for human civilization? It's difficult to come up with an exact answer, yet my vote is for yes; it is worthy.
  8. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    That was not the goal of this project, this project was a prove a technological possibility for a biotech company that has all intent to utilize this new technology.

    When you say from scratch do you mean every thing from starch even the ribosomes, every assisting bio-molecule, that a near impossible waste of energy to achieve. We have had DNA replication in vitro for decades, now we have artificial cells, the middle ground is of little value, if you want to learn how life was founded focus is most likely needed on creating an RNA only organism as this is the supposed predecessor to the much more stable DNA and central dogma system of life today.

    We are talking about a technology for a use not a useless glory achievement. Its like your comparing the invention of the atomic bomb, transistors and DNA to a fucking mountain climbing and track races! The ability to construct artificial cells be it with natural cell starting points opens a pandora's box of possibilities, which is why this is a issue.
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Whether it was the goal of this project or not is irrelevant. I am talking about trying to create life from scratch. For it's own sake.
    Maybe for you all science and investigation has to have an alterior motive than mere curiosity. Not for me. I like investigations just to be able to solve a mystery.

    What you call a waste of energy many people would consider the holy grail of biology... to be able to create life from scratch from inert material.

    However it is done - the investigation and pursuit is of significant worth in and of itself.
    For you to say the "middle ground is of little value" reinforces my opinion that you only seem to think of economic value.

    I am making no such comparison. You are. And for some reason you are getting worked up about it.

    (and are you sure DNA was invented???)

    Yes, this achievement was a technological demonstrator that could pave the way to many uses to... but it is also helping us toward the peak of the mountain that others want to climb merely because it is there.
    You might want to ignore that - but I choose not to.
    Should mountain climbers ignore all the technological advances that have been developed for economic gain but make the mountain peak more achievable?
    We climb the mountain because it is there.
    We use what we can to get there.
    And to many there is no higher mountain than the creation of life from scratch.

    Waste of effort?
    If only all scientists thought like you. :shrug:
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I see technological challenges as a subset of scientific challenges. One should be using the scientific method to overcome technological challenges, right?
    But (unless I've misunderstood you) I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees this particular challenge itself as worthy, irrespective of "use" that it can be put to.

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  11. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

    Technological challenges require more than science: You have to be an artist, a strategists, an aim/target driven person, an entrepreneur and this and that
    using scientific knowledge; and all these are still within the parenthesis of "human" technology . Don't forget, technology has much longer history than science. Nowadays they are motivating each other and they give the impression of they are intertwined; nearly the same thing. However, in a way technology has always been here in this universe even before human existence; atoms were a technological expression of energy, DNA is a technological expression of certain chemicals alongside different species, no conscious intention, yet practical solutions are technological. Science, on the other hand, is totally a human achievement. Science is not for practical solutions, but human technology will obviously use it towards this purpose as well.

    Even Craig Venter himself admitted that his perception on "what is life?" has changed during this process. And imagine, this person is doing what he is doing for "profit" in people's eyes. Some might come up with a suspicion that what he is saying is also political/business targeted strategy in order to emphasize the importance of his invention. But I believe he was genuine. You see, the challenge has already paid off. Ah, some people might need 40 million dollar to question their perception, some people can do it for free; this is not the discussion in here.
  12. Jon X Science Registered Senior Member

    I saw this article on the other day, quite impressive really.

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