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Researchers One Step Closer To Creating Life 292

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the mad-science dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are potentially one step closer to creating life. In an experiment they recently created enzymes that can replicate and evolve. 'It kind of blew me away,' said team member Tracey Lincoln of the Scripps Research Institute, who is working on her Ph.D. 'What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting.'"
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Researchers One Step Closer To Creating Life

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  • wtf? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anthony_Cargile (1336739) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:51PM (#26423643) Homepage

    What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting

    I bet robots would fascinate these people.

    • Re:wtf? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cadallin (863437) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:58PM (#26423757)
      Don't be an ass.

      Biotech research, and particularly creating artificial, but organic life like systems, is a parallel, and often directly contributory line of research in relation to robotics and AI. The two fields have a steady exchange of ideas.

      • You mean some scientist out there almost got laid!? This IS one for the headlines! I just hope we'll be able to replicate the results with ease. God knows how many infeasible experiments big organizations have dangled in front of my low budget lab.

      • life "ab initio". Even if a group managed to reproduce an entire human being "ab initio" from a protein replicator and an genetic map, this still does not count. We are not even close to understand why DNA/RNA/proteins act they way they do. This can be liken to someone dumping all the chips/resistors/capactiors for a modern PC with a schematic on how to connect it together to form a living PC (hint: the used to be called Heath Kits). Does that individual who assemble the CPU/GPU/memroy/rom capacitors, etc t
    • Re:wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pushing-robot (1037830) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:03PM (#26423849)

      Robots the size of molecules would fascinate me.

    • Re:wtf? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ElizabethGreene (1185405) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:04PM (#26423861)

      How many self-replicating-self-assembling robots have you seen. .. 0? The DIY stereo lithograph is close, but that self-assembling bit kills it.

      -ellie

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:08PM (#26423937) Homepage
      The primary reason this sort of research is interesting is because it might give insight as to how abiogenesis occured. Most of the current hypotheses revolve around small sets of molecules becoming self-replicating and eventually forming cells with DNA and protein and all that good stuff. Moreover, even if this were similar to robots doing it on a small scale is independently interesting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mattwarden (699984)

        > The primary reason this sort of research is interesting is because it might give
        > insight as to how abiogenesis occured

        Yeah right. This is just more grant money going to political cronies and left-wing, atheist Washington fat-cats. There has already been enough research on this topic [wikipedia.org] to consider the matter closed.

    • by Atrox666 (957601)
      I for one welcome our enzyme overlords
    • Now suddenly this is redundant. Does slashdot really even need a Science category? I mean really, this joke was perfect, it must be the batch of mods we got today. Keep up the good work, slashdotters!
  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:52PM (#26423659) Journal
    Movie quote:

    Male Character: "God creates dinosaurs. God kills dinosaurs. Man kills God. Man creates dinosaurs."
    Female Character: "Dinosaurs eat man... woman inherits the earth."

    Hah!
    • by Thelasko (1196535)
      Jurassic Park [wikipedia.org]
    • by kalirion (728907)

      I prefer the sci-fi version (won't spoil the source since it's an awesome story.)

      1. God creates Universe.
      2. Universe evolves Man.
      3. Man creates computer.
      4. Universe dies.
      5. Computer becomes God.
      Goto 1.

  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by zwekiel (1445761) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:52PM (#26423663)
    I'll finally be one step closer to creating my race of manbearpigs.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >I'll finally be one step closer to creating my race of manbearpigs.

      A whole race of "man bears" [maximumawesome.com] Wow, you must have incredible stamina and tolerance for couch hair.

  • Apparently there are no fertile researchers at the Scripps Research Institute?

  • Bots... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigattichouse (527527) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:53PM (#26423671) Homepage
    I have this feeling that in 100 years "mechanical" robots will be very passe.
  • by andrewd18 (989408) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:53PM (#26423677)
    Researcher quoted as saying: "I was so close... I took her out to eat, paid for the movie, laid on the charm as heavy as I could, but it wasn't enough. However, I do feel that I'm one step closer to creating life."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by arminw (717974)

      .... I do feel that I'm one step closer to creating life....

      It is the year 2109. Some scientists have figured out how to come before God and how to make life. They tell him: "Move over, we don't need you anymore because we can make life now also." God smiles and replies: "That is quite an achievement. Would you please give me a demonstration?" The scientists tell him: "Sure watch this!" They proceed to scrape together some dirt and put it into their quietly humming life creation machine. At this point God

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        And that is how science is done ...

        The whole idea is to find out how it's all put together. God has no place in that process other than to remain elusive. And still we get ever closer. I don't believe we'll ever know it all anyway, but the quest is what drives us.

        Humour conceals a lot of things, mostly truth.

        P.S. In case you missed it, I think God is a concept, not a being.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by arminw (717974)

          ....In case you missed it, I think God is a concept, not a being...

          Well, either your opinion is valid or Moses who talked to God. He asked God what his name was that he should tell the people. God replied: I am, tell them that "I AM" sent you. That expression is related to the word to be and that therefore makes God a being, not merely a concept.

          Jesus claimed to be God come to earth. Jesus was very much a living person, just as you are. He proved his claim to deity by rising from the dead after being execut

  • But, but, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catbertscousin (770186) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:56PM (#26423725)
    the enzymes are being intelligently designed . . .
    • the enzymes are being intelligently designed . . .

      That's correct. Now the next step, once we are sure that these things are capable of evolving into life, is to invent a time machine and send them back in time to become the seeds for life on this planet. As documented here [angryflower.com].

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nathrael (1251426)
        But...if they weren't there in the first place, we would never have existed and thus wouldn't be able to send them back in time, and thus, we would not have evolved from them and could not...argh, time paradoxon, cognitive dissona%/!!7?NO CARRIER[/lameattemptathumor]
        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          Now now, pull yourself together, man! Time paradoxes are just a part of life in today's intelligently designed world, and nothing a well-adjusted member of society shouldn't be able to deal with. Why, it was just this past Christmas visiting family that I was looking at my family tree and discovered that I will have been my own great-grandfather. Instead of freaking out about how impossible it is, we all had a good laugh and then served desert.

          • by rthille (8526)

            I don't celebrate Christmas anymore, since I went back in time and killed Mary.

      • "What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they'd never believe you?"

    • that would be true if we had in fact designed them, as it turns out they were evolved in a process called test tube evolution [creative name..]

    • by msimm (580077)
      The Tom Cruise connection to the UFO nuts and the bible belt.
    • Unintelligent design (Score:5, Informative)

      by tgibbs (83782) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:30PM (#26424659)

      the enzymes are being intelligently designed . . .

      Not entirely. According to the paper, they were in part designed by in vitro evolution, an "unintelligent" design method that makes use of random mutation and selection to derive better enzymes. The power of "unintelligent" design mechanisms (of which evolution is one) is that they do not require that the specific solution to a design problem be known in advance.

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        So you're saying the people who devised these experiments are stupid ?
        • by tgibbs (83782)

          So you're saying the people who devised these experiments are stupid ?

          They could be smarter than most people and still not be intelligent enough to figure out what specific sequence will produce the most efficient catalysis.

          But the wonder of unintelligent design is that you don't have to be smart enough to know the answer--just smart enough to set up a system that exploits the power of random mutation and selection to discover novel information.

  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:56PM (#26423735)

    Over half the world population has been able to create life for some time. Aren't you all a little late to the party? -_-

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:59PM (#26423781)

      Over half the world population has been able to create life for some time. Aren't you all a little late to the party? -_-

      Aren't you be glad that you'd finally be able to create life without the services of a woman?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        Over half the world population has been able to create life for some time. Aren't you all a little late to the party? -_-

        Aren't you be glad that you'd finally be able to create life without the services of a woman?

        GP appears to be a woman.

      • by Dirtside (91468)

        Aren't you be glad that you'd finally be able to create life without the services of a woman?

        So you're asking if he'd like to not have sex, and yet be saddled with the responsibility of raising a child anyway?

    • by Virak (897071)

      This is truly an impressive development! Since when have there been so many humans capable of asexual reproduction?

  • Here's an NPR story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seakip18 (1106315) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:57PM (#26423743) Journal

    It's a bit nicer than the print article: Here [npr.org]

    They are very clear in saying that what they have created is "NOT ALIVE."

    This is very interesting work.

  • This story has been up 8 minutes and I only see 5 posts of the same obvious joke, out of 13 posts. Come on /. get you asses in gear.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by GabriellaKat (748072)
      That's because most men on /. can't last more then 8 min when trying to conceive.
      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Who said we wanted to ?
    • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:19PM (#26424129)
      OK, here you go:

      What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting.

      Great they cloned Keanu Reeves...

    • by rishistar (662278)

      This story has been up 8 minutes and I only see 5 posts of the same obvious joke, out of 13 posts. Come on /. get you asses in gear.

      Well, your primary problem is that to get the conception process going is getting out asses out of gear. For conception purposes, gear does not get put in asses.

    • If something is conceived that is not actually alive, does that make it an inaccurate conception?
  • In an experiment they recently created enzymes that can replicate and evolve. 'It kind of blew me away,' said team member Tracey Lincoln of the Scripps Research Institute, who is working on her Ph.D.

    I wonder what she'd think about this evolution [slashdot.org].

  • And I was musing that her dream of man creating life is still unfulfilled two centuries later. Stories about magician animating the non-living are as old as man, but hers became iconic.
  • Andrew Crosse (Score:2, Informative)

    If you haven't already heard of Andrew Crosse and his experiments this is well worth a look. http://www.spartechsoftware.com/dimensions/mystical/AndrewCroise.htm [spartechsoftware.com] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Crosse [wikipedia.org] The biochemical experiments conducted in 1837 produced insects which were later named acari or Acarus Crossii
    • by thewils (463314)

      Man, that Wikipedia image of Andrew Crosse sure does look like the young Eric Idle of Monty Python fame...

  • The really sad part about this story is somehow, somewhere, someone is going to throw a billion dollars at this research if they promise to focus on the penis first.

    At least that's what my spam horoscope told me....

  • Nothing evolves like evolution!
  • TFA is just more 'create life' hype to get research funding dollars.

    From the article: "Specifically, the researchers synthesized RNA
    enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins
    or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely.
    "Immortalized" RNA, they call it, at least within the limited
    conditions of a laboratory. More significantly, the scientists
    then mixed different RNA enzymes that had replicated, along with some
    of the raw material they were working with, and le

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:04PM (#26426521)

      You quoted the article, but you didn't read it. This is a huge breakthrough. As in Nobel Prize level. An RNA molecule that is able to directly self-replicate has never been seen before. Your first link is to a structure of an RNA enzyme, not an RNA that is able to make more copies of itself. You're equating a machine that makes lampshades to a lampshade making lampshades. The other link, just because I don't know exactly how the Sun came to be means that it doesn't shine? What exactly is the point of this?

  • "skunkopotamus"

  • Come on, the best chance of us coming up with artificial life is self-replicating robots. Artificial plants, essentially. Don't know why we'd want those around unless we plan to harvest them or their husks for some use like we do with wheat and hemp and so forth, but it'd surely be staggeringly interesting.

    And we could get there without magical molecular biology tricks: just engineer the parts required of an universal constructor, then re-engineer those so that they can be built by one. Boosh! Well-defined

  • Some science major gets a passing grade in this class [slashdot.org]and figures he's going to get lucky with an actual woman.

    They need to teach the difference between theoretical science and practical engineering.

  • TFA article states: "DNA is the software of life..." which
    is total crap. If they insist on using a computer analogy, they
    could say 'DNA is the information storage of life' and the 'gene
    expression mechanism is the software.' Recent advances in epigenetics [wikipedia.org]
    have shown that gene expression is much more complex than previously
    thought. To use the computer analogy, there's 'memory' chips and there's 'logic' chips
    and they are not the same thing.

  • by SupremoMan (912191) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:28PM (#26425439)

    1. Get woman

    2. Sleep with woman

    3. ????

    4. Create life

    • by thewils (463314)

      Yeah right! I see there's no

      5. .....
      6. Profit!!!

      so that's probably why the nerds aren't into this one.

  • by jandersen (462034) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:32PM (#26437903)

    Strictly speaking they are not creating anything, but contructing it. Creation means "bringing into existence" from nothing; not something withing the boundaries of science, where preservation of energy, mass and what have you are the reality. Constructing a living entity, or one that is nearly living is still an impressive feat and an important step closer to discovering what life is.

    Because that is one other thing we don't actually know; we know a lot of living organisms, and a lot of dead things, and they seem to be fundamentally different in some way, but we don't quite know where the boundary goes.

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