Saturday, May 22, 2010

Frikkin' Replicants

From the Wall Street Journal, via The Unwanted Blog: "Scientists Create First Synthetic Cell." Greaaaaat -- soon, they'll be making artificial annoying neighbors, like the ones across the street who have screaming arguments every night.

Interesting sidelight: "To set this novel bacterium—and all its descendants—apart from any natural creation, Dr. Venter and his colleagues wrote their names into its chemical DNA code, along with three apt quotations from James Joyce and others." So, does this mean we can look forward to hearing, "Dammit! Your copy of Lord Of the Rings got into the bread and now it's all green and fuzzy!" or, "Lysol? But I was growing spare copies of my Chem textbook in those socks!"


Anonymous said...

What hath Go... err, that dude, wrought?

In any case, there are many more-pressing problems to deal with before I lose any sleep over this.


Roberta X said...

I'm just waiting for the first nitwit to post, "SEE THIS PROVES D4RW1N WUZ TEH WRONG!!!1!!one!

Timmeehh said...

I give them 2 years before they accidently create a virus that wipes out all of humanity.

2012... maybe the Mayans knew something?

WV = count

Yes, but only up to 2012.

MO Bro said...

Indeed, it's only time before mankind wipes itself out by playing with things they shouldn't. Some humans are good at using what was meant for good for dreadful purposes.

Tam said...


This genie is long out of the bottle. One may as well mourn the invention of gunpowder.

OrangeNeck said...


Those damned Chinese and their inventions... :P

Data Viking said...


You asked for it, now you got it ! Now what ? :-)

There are times we think too much alike ... when I first read of this my thoughts ran to how to tell when the mold on the cheese in the refrigerator/mildew in the bathroom, etc. is an escaped/misplaced part of my library and when is it naturally occurring ...

WV: sorizel - gargamel's more evil older brother

MO Bro said...

Ahh, Tam, you have a point. So much for me trying to sound... uh, concerned, or intelligent or something??

Sarah said...

Oh, well. They'll either cure all sorts of horrible diseases or inadvertently create an army of organisms that enslave us all. Either way, it's going to be HELLA cool to watch.

Anonymous said...


It's not like they glued moths to trees or faked drawings of embryos in textbooks. Geez, relax.

I looking forward to applying this technology to dinosaur reintroduction. Perhaps free-range dinosaurs out west somewhere and packs of raptors introduced into D.C., NYC, Chicago, L.A. inter alia. Finally caliber debates and "what gun for" would mean something!

Shootin' Buddy

Tam said...

"...faked drawings of embryos in textbooks."

I wince in embarrassment for you when I read that; it demonstrates an almost Jack T. Chick-level grasp of the topic.

Now that you've conquered Haeckel, who are you going to topple next? Velikovsky? Lysenko?

Roberta X said...

SB: Looky here, slim, evolution is how we get speciation; a few nitwits with their thumb on the scale is not the same thing as, oh, faking up hundreds of years of climate data that other researchers work from.

As for the Origin of Life (as opposed to "species"), that's a different argument and not actually one you can have with Darwin. These boys did add to our understanding of such things but it's still a mystery to science.

You remember science. don'cha? That system of investigating the world that, when we get it right, leads to consistent, predictable results and which doesn't require argument-from authority or ghost stories to make it work? That system that, when we work it honestly (and usually even when some of us don't), questions itself and overturns the Received Wisdom at frequent intervals?

As for religion and philosophy, I got nothin' to say except to point out that the Green Revolution has fed hundreds of millions more people than were ever claimed for religious miracles with loaves & fishes, manna from above and the like. Anybody wants to make it a battle, I'm on the side that does useful things.

I have no idea about the next world (in the unlikely event there is one) but in this world, religions, from Christianity to Islam and Communism, produce dead people as their sole tangible output. Every last one of 'em has blood on their hands -- and not not a single vaccine, telephone or Model T.

og said...

hey, you got your Kipling in my O'Rourke!

You got your O'Rourke in my Kipling!

Two great tastes that Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

og said...

"Every last one of 'em has blood on their hands -- and not not a single vaccine, telephone or Model T."

Yep. Because no scientist ever had blood on his hands. That cabal of judeochristian islamic moors that developed the Bomb in secret and then crossed themselves and killed 230,000 in Hiroshima and nagasaki have a lot to answer for!

I can only pray that whatever harm became of you to make you capable of such hatred will eventually be healed. The absolute fact is that the church in it's many forms has been part and parcel of the advancement of science through the ages. I'm confident you're secure in your knowledge how wrong I am, I hope it comforts you. Your belief in the evil of organized religion is far stronger than my faith needs to be for me to get by.

Roberta X said...

It is not that I believe in the "evil of..religion," Og, organized or not; or that I think science and technology are incapable of evil -- but when I look at the tangible, repeatable results of the two, only one of them has an output consisting of real, useful things. The same science that levelled Hiroshima (and prevented huge Allied losses; the only constant of war is death)treats cancer.

It was not faith built the cathedrals, Og, it was architects and masons. Not preachers with honeyed or fiery words but plain men with chisels and calloused hands.

Nor do I deny that religion can comfort the faithful and lead them to morality -- it least as that faith defines morals. Which reminds me that many of 'em, at one time or another, would've found it moral and proper to kill me for my lack of belief, often in quite colorful and imaginative ways -- yours among them.

I have no idea if there is a $DIETY; some of the time, I agree with Mark Twain's opinion that if there is, then all the available evidence is he, she or it is a malign thug. It does not follow that the faithful are likewise.

And here's why these religious debates are of no use: in the here and now, we have no way of knowing the existence and nature of such a being. In the fullness of time, each of us will take our last trip and we'll either learn or we'll vanish like the ephemeral flame, with no way of knowing that we don't. I've done what I could with the life I was handed and I face that prospect with my head up and a light heart; I can't -- and don't -- speak for anyone else.

Calling my refusal to defer to your Supreme Being -- or to Mohammed's, or Ghandi's -- "hate" is silly. I'm only pointing to what is and ignoring the ineffable and unprovable. Like oil portraiture or septic-tank repair, I'm content to leave the practice of religion to those with a knack and desire for it. But I have my own opinions about paintings, plumbing -- and religion.

Roberta X said...

...Who was it locked up Galileo for bein' right? I keep forgettin'.

Stretch said...

The fact the scientist used 3 (THREE!!!) Joyce quotes is all the proof I need the scientists in question are NOT to be trusted.
And yes, I still hate the English teacher who failed me 'cause my paper on Joyce read, in its entirety: "I am unable to discern any meaning in Joyce because I can't get that drunk."