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Author Topic:   Scientists create life in a test tube
frank
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 23 (13416)
07-12-2002 12:11 PM


Hi to all, this is my first post and I wasn't sure what forum to put it in.

I found the following article on-line in the New York Times and thought it might generate some disussion:

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/12/science/12POLI.html

Frank


Replies to this message:
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 Message 8 by peter borger, posted 07-12-2002 7:41 PM frank has not yet responded
 Message 11 by Tranquility Base, posted 07-14-2002 10:27 PM frank has responded
 Message 18 by singularity, posted 07-25-2002 3:04 AM frank has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 19111
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 2 of 23 (13423)
07-12-2002 3:27 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by frank
07-12-2002 12:11 PM


Since no Creationist has responded yet, I thought I'd post an exchange between me and Fred a few years ago at a Yahoo message board. First I posted this (Yahoo Message 14533):

Percy wrote:

This is something that Tim Thompson covered recently in a reply to Berrean in 14292:

"Matter...has already been observed to go most of the way to a full blown cell. Sidney Fox's thermal proteins form spontaneously from amino acids (which are also already known to form spontaneously from Urey-Miller style experiments) (http://entropy.me.usouthal.edu/harbinger/articles/rel_sci/fox.html). We also know that lipid monolayers & vesicles form spontaneously ("The role of self assembled monolayers of the purine and pyramidine bases in the emergence of life"; S.J. Sowerby & W.M. Heckl; Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere 28(3): 283-310; June 1998) and we know that amino acids & proteins inside protected volumes will spontaneously form RNA ("Production of RNA by ploymerase protein encapsulated within phospholipid vesicles"; A.C. Chakrabarti et al.; Journal of Molecular Evolution 39(6): 555-559; December 1994). So, in fact, we have already created the pieces of a spontaneous chain from the basics to RNA."

In short, no, we can't create life in the lab, but we continue to get closer and closer, and we are now very close. Look for big news in this area in the next couple decades.


To which Fred replied in Yahoo Message 14567:

Fred replied:

Thompson fairytale delights Percipient
by: FredKelly (37/M/Broomfield, CO)

Thompson: "Matter...has already been observed to go most of the way to a full blown cell. "

Percipient: "In short, no, we can't create life in the lab, but we continue to get closer and closer, and we are now very close. Look for big news in this area in the next couple decades."

ROTFL! And you call the evolution science! Actually, to be fair Science mag would never print the utter absurdity stated by Thompson and that which Percipient gullibly accepted!

I am curious. Are there any other of you evo-babblers out there who think we are most of the way to a full blown cell?!

"If one practices hard enough you can believe six impossible things before breakfast" - Red Queen, Alice in Wonderland.


And it would appear Fred can disbelieve six possible things any time he feels like it.

This synthesis of viruses appears to me to be progress of the expected sort toward synthesis of life in the lab. First viruses, then bacteria, then prokaryotes, etc.

Hard to say how long it will take to get to the next step, we're only barely on this step. If synthesizing viruses is analogous in difficulty to boosting satellites into orbit, then synthesizing bacteria would be like putting a man on the moon, in which case we should be able to synthesize bacteria within a decade or so.

But if the difficultly of synthesizing viruses is closer to putting a man on the moon, then the next step is analogous to putting a man on mars, in which case synthesizing bacteria could be quite a ways off.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Andor, posted 07-12-2002 4:11 PM Percy has not yet responded
 Message 4 by gene90, posted 07-12-2002 4:15 PM Percy has responded
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Andor
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 23 (13424)
07-12-2002 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Percy
07-12-2002 3:27 PM


At least this is going to reactivate the debate on the definition of life. A virus is, according to that definition, not alive, but perhaps this is so, because we only know a form of life. Yet.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Percy, posted 07-12-2002 3:27 PM Percy has not yet responded

  
gene90
Member (Idle past 2166 days)
Posts: 1610
Joined: 12-25-2000


Message 4 of 23 (13425)
07-12-2002 4:15 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Percy
07-12-2002 3:27 PM


Is there really a point in attempting to synthesize advanced microbial life from non-life?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Percy, posted 07-12-2002 3:27 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
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frank
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 23 (13429)
07-12-2002 5:45 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by gene90
07-12-2002 4:15 PM


Two reasons cited in the article are biowarfare and environmental cleanup. I seem to remember reading an article a few years back about the possible use of bacteria to breakdown oil spills.

I'm sure there could be many more. We have used micro-organisms in tasks like brewing beer and making cheese for a very long time, so the
development of custom "bugs" to enhance existing processes or create
new processes seems well worth looking into.

Frank


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Percy
Member
Posts: 19111
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 6 of 23 (13431)
07-12-2002 6:29 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by gene90
07-12-2002 4:15 PM


Gene writes:

Is there really a point in attempting to synthesize advanced microbial life from non-life?

Frank has advanced some scientific justifications, but within the context of this debate it's an important issue because Creationists claim that life cannot come from non-life. Synthesizing life in the lab would rebut this particular argument, though it would have no particular impact on the debate because Creationists would emphasize the related claim that life cannot come from non-life through natural processes.

--Percy


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peter borger
Member (Idle past 6009 days)
Posts: 965
From: australia
Joined: 07-05-2002


Message 8 of 23 (13443)
07-12-2002 7:41 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by frank
07-12-2002 12:11 PM


Dear readers,
Anybody who - even for a second - thought that scientist are able to make life has been completely fooled by this report.
I even doubt whether anyone has a clue what these "fools" did.

1) They take virus X
2) they sequenced the information carrier of the virus
3) they synthesised the same informationcarrier (anyone with a pair of hands can make a strand of DNA/RNA nowadays)
4) they introduced this in a cell
5) the informationcarrier behaves like virus X.

What is so remarkable about this all? It behaves like virus X. What did you expect? If they really designed a new virus from scratch that would be (bad) news. And not only for creationists!

It demonstrates that:
1) intelligents is required to make a virus (!)
2) from a template (!)

It tells me that:
1) people who write this stuff doesn't have a clue about life
2) some scientists have completely gone mad
3) it is propaganda to scare of the world (Look!...we can make a virus now!)

I wish you a better world,
Peter


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Replies to this message:
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Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 3376 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 9 of 23 (13455)
07-12-2002 11:30 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Percy
07-12-2002 3:27 PM


I am most of the way to a visualization of the "full blown cell" (cell post 70s when structure of cytoplasm became more generally recognized) that will assit in the statistics of bioassay of so-called "electro-pollution" where pathogenesis is of importance but currently derives DISEASE only back to the point of genetic break with the past. The phenomena in my view goes from the physiological genetics through this transmission to the expression once again all within the Newtonian intention of forces that leaves chance to play its effects in terms of how any statics are dynamized. The full blown cell can be concieved without the dynamics needing to be a need to know issue. And I am not at the mediation process any time yet nor what morally passes for the ethics in meme today.

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gene90
Member (Idle past 2166 days)
Posts: 1610
Joined: 12-25-2000


Message 10 of 23 (13459)
07-12-2002 11:54 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by peter borger
07-12-2002 7:41 PM


[QUOTE][b]1) intelligents is required to make a virus (!)[/QUOTE]

[/b]

No, it doesn't show that intelligence is required for anything, just that in this case there was an intelligence involved.

[QUOTE][b]1) people who write this stuff doesn't have a clue about life[/QUOTE]

[/b]

Ad hominem.

[QUOTE][b]2) some scientists have completely gone mad[/QUOTE]

[/b]

No, it actually serves a purpose in this case. I suggest reading the article. Also, even if you insist that this was a bad idea it would be more accurate to phrase it, "Some military people have completely gone mad." And as for claiming this is propaganda, it isn't really scary when you consider that polio is still running wild. Besides, I doubt there is a known pathogen that the US does not already have in cold storage in either Atlanta or Bethesda. All this demonstrates is that terrorists don't need direct access to some viruses to use them as a weapon. This is a valid point as well, a lack of complexity does not make an agent temperate. Ebola Zaire uses, what, nine genes?

But I still don't understand how synthesizing life from the ground up would make much sense when we have recombinant DNA technology for the same purpose.

[This message has been edited by gene90, 07-12-2002]


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Tranquility Base
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 23 (13520)
07-14-2002 10:27 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by frank
07-12-2002 12:11 PM


I personally don't have a big problem with scientists synthesising life.

But everybody knows that viruses use the incredibly complex translation/transcription/metabolic circuitry of living cells so of course this has not yet been achieved.

A virus is like a word macro (a list of MS word commands). It's like a 12 year old hacker saying he can write MS word when all he did was write a macro. But 12 year olds grow up (sometimes into Bill Gateses) so I don't have a problem with future scientists synthsesing life. It will be a big project but not impossible.

This all has absolutely nothing to do with issues concerning the origin of life.


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 Message 1 by frank, posted 07-12-2002 12:11 PM frank has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by frank, posted 07-15-2002 2:58 PM Tranquility Base has responded

  
peter borger
Member (Idle past 6009 days)
Posts: 965
From: australia
Joined: 07-05-2002


Message 12 of 23 (13521)
07-14-2002 10:41 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by gene90
07-12-2002 11:54 PM


Gene,

You state:
"All this demonstrates is that terrorists don't need direct access to some viruses to use them as a weapon"

So, make it public and focus the attention of potential terrorists on the protocol how to build a virus?
Peter


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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gene90
Member (Idle past 2166 days)
Posts: 1610
Joined: 12-25-2000


Message 13 of 23 (13534)
07-15-2002 1:15 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by peter borger
07-14-2002 10:41 PM


Make it public so the genomics companies will crosscheck DNA with known pathogens.

This message is a reply to:
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frank
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 23 (13578)
07-15-2002 2:58 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Tranquility Base
07-14-2002 10:27 PM


I disagree that this has nothing to do with the origin of life.

Assuming scientists do create life in the future, that would give us one more scenario of how things may have happened than we currently have.

Assuming that what is discovered in not the way life was created here, it still allows us a better understanding of how life may originate elsewhere in the universe.

Frank


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Tranquility Base, posted 07-15-2002 9:24 PM frank has responded

  
peter borger
Member (Idle past 6009 days)
Posts: 965
From: australia
Joined: 07-05-2002


Message 15 of 23 (13595)
07-15-2002 8:43 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by gene90
07-15-2002 1:15 AM


You misinterpreted my reply. I'm a proponent of making public all scientific data, but it should be guarded. To present it in the media is the opposite. That is allerting them.
Peter

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Tranquility Base
Inactive Member


Message 16 of 23 (13599)
07-15-2002 9:24 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by frank
07-15-2002 2:58 PM


Frank

I wont completely disagree with you on that becase we are trying to whittle down genomes to their key pieces.

The way we are currently approaching the problem is to whittle down simple organisms like yeast and Mycoplasma Genitalium to a minimal set of genes that still works. We can probably get it down to about 200 genes. This could be construed as being like an ancestral genome. But then from there we have to somehow make all the chemicals and membranes of a mother cell including it's genome. It will be quite unlike how it could have occurred in evolution.

So of course some lessons for evoltuion will be learned but if someone make a cell tommorrow it doesn't make evolution any more likely. They'd eqaully be showing us what God did with the design step alrady done!

[This message has been edited by Tranquility Base, 07-15-2002]


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