Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Back for a limited time - Get 15% off sitewide on Slashdot Deals with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" (some exclusions apply)". ×

Florida Lab Gets Pregnant 149

Synthetic Biology, a relatively new field, is seeking to find out what happened to a bunch of chemicals to make them capable of supporting a metabolism, replicating, and evolution. A Florida lab is showing some of the most promising advancements in this direction with their AEGIS (Artificially Expanded Genetic Information System) experiment. "AEGIS is not self-sustaining, at least not yet, and with 12 DNA building blocks -- as opposed to the usual four -- there's little chance it will be confused with natural life. Still, Benner is encouraged by the results. 'It's evolving. It's doing what we designed it to do,' said Benner, a biochemist with the Gainesville, Fla.-based Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution. In addition to providing an example of how alien life might be cobbled together, synthetic biology has a broad array of uses on the home front."

Biologist (Almost) Creates Artificial Life 539

Aditya Malik writes "Wired has an interesting story up about how a lab led by Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, is building 'protocells' from artificial molecules which are very close to satisfying the conditions for being 'alive.' 'Szostak's protocells are built from fatty molecules that can trap bits of nucleic acids that contain the source code for replication. Combined with a process that harnesses external energy from the sun or chemical reactions, they could form a self-replicating, evolving system that satisfies the conditions of life, but isn't anything like life on earth now, but might represent life as it began or could exist elsewhere in the universe.' This obviously raises some questions about creationism, not to mention some scary bio-research-gone-wild scenarios."

Quark! Quark! Beware the quantum duck!