Monday, August 20, 2007

Scientists Close to "Creating" Life

I'm not exactly sure what they hope to prove, but a small group of scientists appear to be very close to creating life "from scratch." According to a recent AP article, we can "expect an announcement within three to 10 years from someone in the now little-known field of 'wet artificial life.'"

Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, said, "Creating protocells has the potential to shed new light on our place in the universe. This will remove one of the few fundamental mysteries about creation in the universe and our role." Uh, yeah. Sure it will.

Exactly how will this "artificial" life be created? With the basic chemicals in DNA, of course.

Wait. You didn't think they were actually going to "create" life, did you? That's absurd! All true "scientists" will tell you that life can't be created; it can only evolve from what already existed.

Now, don't start asking where the stuff that already existed came from. Science means only dealing with what you can actually observe -- you know, like billions of years of evolution turning a primordial gumbo into the complex, blog-reading blob of organic tissue that is you. Speculating or theorizing based on actual evidence is something only religious crackpots do.

At any rate, here's what we can look forward to in the near future:
    One of the leaders in the field, Jack Szostak at Harvard Medical School, predicts that within the next six months, scientists will report evidence that the first step -- creating a cell membrane -- is "not a big problem." Scientists are using fatty acids in that effort.

    Szostak is also optimistic about the next step—getting nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA, to form a working genetic system.

    His idea is that once the container is made, if scientists add nucleotides in the right proportions, then Darwinian evolution could simply take over.

    "We aren't smart enough to design things, we just let evolution do the hard work and then we figure out what happened," Szostak said.
"Hard work"? Seems to me that these scientists are doing the hardest part: putting the building blocks of life together in the first place, something Darwinian evolution could never do.

Now, when scientists are able to simply speak something into existence -- that is, without cheating by using something that has already been created -- then that might be newsworthy. In the meantime, I'm a little more concerned about the "artificial" life in my refrigerator.

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