A new revolution is underway that is going to further stretch our understanding of what life is and how it presents itself in the material world. Another step forward has been made and the first synthetic life form has been created by a team led by Dr. J. Craig Venturer and the results published in Science, magazine.
Dr. Venturer formed the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland and San Diego, California, USA, in October 2006 and has been focused on genome research for at least two decades. What his team have been able to do is create a bacterium genome via software, create it and put it into an empty (old DNA removed) cell. All of the behaviours predicted from the structure of the DNA were demonstrated by the cell that then successfully replicated a billion times.
“Mummy ran on Windows Version 10 before it crashed…”
This has got to bring about a paradigm shift at some point in time, in our current thinking we can say that we have created a version of life that has never before existed. The ‘parent’ of the life was in fact a ‘file’, a document, just a design for synthetic bacterial DNA, created on the genome software that was run by the team. The successful physical creation of the complex structure of this design was then the actual DNA transplanted into another host cell. The first synthetic virus was actually created in 2003, but the current version of ‘What is Life?’ doesn’t really know whether that can be considered or not, but a cell is definitely covered.
“Creating Fire? Dangerous move claim critics!”
Of course this accomplishment is not without its critics, who understandably are concerned by all the bad things that we can do with this knowledge. Quite rightly so, with all of our offences we commit against ourselves and other life forms made possible by previous technologies. The use by military or terrorists to create bioweapons, the risk of accidental release of rogue DNA into the environment and many other nightmare scenarios cloud the vision of the alternative fantastic possibilities open to us. So with it comes the same responsibilities that we have had since creating new diseases and cross pollinating plants, great care must be taken to learn from, test and control any experiments made in this area of expertise. It is so important that this knowledge to become mainstream and its implications of misuse known.