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SCI/TECH: Scientists Attempt to Create New Organism

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posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 11:47 AM
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At Los Alamos National Laboratory, scientists have gathered to create a completely new organism. They will start from scratch. They will not be changing the DNA of an animal but rather, creating a completely new one. The project has been awarded $5 million so it can get off the ground. Steve Rasmussen will head the project.
 



www.popsci.com
Chen finishes his presentation, and Rasmussen leans forward. "If we can just make a system that’s able to replicate a few times," he says gravely, "we're going to change the world." It's the kind of boast few scientists would dare make aloud, especially when their grant check has only recently cleared. Several of the veterans in the room chuckle and shake their heads—there he goes again.

But Rasmussen's team isn’t the only one attempting to create new organisms. By some estimates, more than 100 labs are chipping away at the problem, including one headed by superstar biologist Craig Venter, whose innovative DNA-sequencing technology led to the decoding of the human genome four years ahead of schedule. Last April the European Union launched the $10-million Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution project, and when I visited Rasmussen in October, he had caught wind of a Japanese effort about to get under way. "There’s no doubt that this is going to happen," he says. "It's no longer a question of 'if,' but of who is going to do it and when."

Many of these scientists are trying to solve the oldest puzzle in science: How did we get here? What combination of inanimate molecules led, four billion years ago, to the first microscopic creature, and from there to the riot of diversity that is life on Earth? "One of the major questions [this work] could answer is, Was life an accident or inevitable?" says Peter Nielsen, a chemist at the University of Copenhagen who is collaborating with Rasmussen.



Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


This has the consequences to change the world, in both good and bad ways. We already know the bad possibilities. This gives the human race the ability to create many of the things we need. For example if we need a disease resistant plant we could just engineer one. The uses and applications of a breakthrough like this one are astounding and limitless.


[edit on 30-1-2005 by Banshee]




posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 01:44 PM
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Interestingly and similarly. SUNY Stonbrook in the US has built a smallpox virus 'from scratch', assembling it from non living material. Looks like these guys would be tryingt o make some sort of minimal organism from similar methods.

I have to say tho that while its worthwhile, it doesn't directly answer the questions of abiogenesis, since they aren't, for example, hypothesizing what the abiogenetic environment (the environment, chemical soup whathaveyou that gave rise to life) was and then replicating it. They will be animating inanimate matter tho, which is interesting enough in itself.



posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 02:13 PM
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Los Alamos is all over the place these days..........the abiogenisis question I suspect is the "official" thesis to justify pursuit of this........if it's a government project there are already a variety of directions this knowledge can go..............Interesting times we live in..........



posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 02:19 PM
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Originally posted by MemoryShock
it's a government project there are already a variety of directions this knowledge can go

It would be far easier to just take the actual already existing diseases and genetically engineer them than to build new things from scratch. The way the epigenetics works isn't really understood in any detail, and they really wouldn't ahve the expertise to do what you are hinting at in this way, at least not equally as effectively as simply engineering already existant organisms.



posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 04:16 PM
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I wonder what the Creationists would say if these experiments succeed ?

[edit on 30-1-2005 by Countermeasures]



posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 04:29 PM
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Originally posted by Countermeasures
I wonder what the Creationists would say if these experiments succeed ?

[edit on 30-1-2005 by Countermeasures]


That we are going to hell. Or simply deny it.



posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 04:48 PM
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Originally posted by Countermeasures
I wonder what the Creationists would say if these experiments succeed ?

[edit on 30-1-2005 by Countermeasures]


Maybe what they've been saying for quite some time.. that things evolved, but they were still created somewhere and sometime.

You dont get something from nothing, unless its created by something that doesnt exist... You get something by combining something thats already around... hence what the scientists are now trying to do in this article.. combining stuff thats already present. When they create a subatom that hasnt been discovered yet, then ill be impressed.



posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 06:43 PM
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What will the great minds of today gain for tomorrow what they could have had yesterday if they were really that smart. Messing around on this scale is going to give someone the dreaded"God"complex. In my humble opinion, they would be better off if they focused on all of the Earths "sane" humanity and developed a way for man to live with his neighbors.What really surprises me is that if they were to ever pick up a Bible, they would have the answers to all mens problems. Problem is for them, is that they are to smart to have the good sense to open it.



posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 09:10 PM
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.
Ambition is a good thing. But since they know so little about how proteins fold or shape to create enzymes I am pretty sure they won't do much more than possibly create a virus. No small thing, but it doesn't begin to touch the incredible complex symphony that a living [single] cell is. Still learning to play a simple tune is how you start to learn music.

As a pre-caution they may want to start also thinking about a required termination function built into all artificial organisms, especially before they have been tested and shown to be safe in the completely natural environment.

I wish all the hopefully well intentioned teams well. I would like to see them retain their humility. Chernobyl happened when engineers/scientists got arrogant.
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posted on Jan, 30 2005 @ 11:13 PM
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I'd like to add that I hope that they have had a panel to consider the ethics of creating a lifeform from scratch. I'm not so concerned about the 'oh man, we are just so damned good, we're like gods' complex, but rather, how responsible is humanity for this life form once its created? If the program looses funding can it simply be terminated? Or does anything that comes up from it have to be preserved indefinitly? If its released and is a threat to, say, some relatively unimportant set of bacteria, does it get destroyed in favour of the 'actual' living things? And the like.

Of course, I also think that similiar panels need toconsider these things when talking about "articifical-life" computer programs that very accurately act like primtive simple lifeforms, so perhaps I am an extremist when it comes to this.



posted on Jan, 31 2005 @ 12:49 AM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
I'd like to add that I hope that they have had a panel to consider the ethics of creating a lifeform from scratch. I'm not so concerned about the 'oh man, we are just so damned good, we're like gods' complex, but rather, how responsible is humanity for this life form once its created? If the program looses funding can it simply be terminated? Or does anything that comes up from it have to be preserved indefinitly? If its released and is a threat to, say, some relatively unimportant set of bacteria, does it get destroyed in favour of the 'actual' living things? And the like.

Of course, I also think that similiar panels need toconsider these things when talking about "articifical-life" computer programs that very accurately act like primtive simple lifeforms, so perhaps I am an extremist when it comes to this.


Don't they all have a ethics panel when it comes to experimentation?

I know for a fact that you have to go through numerous protocols before even attempting to give a small piece of cheese to a mouse, so I am pretty sure that some ethics panle approved of this, at least I hope so.

I highly doubt this would be possible, unless we are talking about small scale such as virus or bacteria, but creating an organism?

Surf



posted on Jan, 31 2005 @ 12:55 AM
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So we make a new critter, it would be kind of cool to be around fifty million years from now when maybe these critters are digging up fossilized human bones and arguing amungst themselves about their religon and if they were created or just evolved from the primative radioactive sludge layers we layed buried in.



posted on Jan, 31 2005 @ 01:16 AM
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Originally posted by surfup
I highly doubt this would be possible, unless we are talking about small scale such as virus or bacteria, but creating an organism?

Well, like I noted above, SUNY Stonybrook in NY built a smallpox virus from inanimate material, so the next logical step is to make a bacteria or a novel virus. A virus of course isn't technically alive.



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