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Researchers One Step Closer To Creating Life 292

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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  • But, but, (Score:5, Insightful)

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

  • by philspear ( 1142299 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:05PM (#26423885)

    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.

  • 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.
  • by The End Of Days ( 1243248 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:09PM (#26423941)

    Since when is consciousness a prerequisite for life?

  • by johnsonav ( 1098915 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:32PM (#26424339) Journal

    ..consciousness precedes matter. Just throwing matter together won't magically instill consciousness.

    ..understanding how the world actually works precedes posting a comment on /. Just throwing comments up on /. won't magically instill understanding of how the world actually works.

  • by teslar ( 706653 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:37PM (#26424407)
    Nope, this does not serve as a proof that a deity is unnecessary, since the research is based on observations of life. In other words, even if this is successful, already existing life was a prerequisite.

    You would have a proof that life can create life through observation and replication, but nothing more. You're still faced with the question of where the life that created life came from.
  • by johnsonav ( 1098915 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:48PM (#26424507) Journal

    ...assuming a person with whom you disagree is automatically wrong does not magically make he/she wrong, or anymore detached from reality than you are.

    Unless you can point to any evidence, or even a credible sounding theory, which would back up the claim, I can pretty confidently dismiss it. I'm not assuming anything, other than that an unqualified assertion, of such a controversial nature, should be backed up by something.

  • by arminw ( 717974 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:02PM (#26425097)

    .... 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 stops them with: "Now just wait one minute you guys, that is my dirt! You make your own dirt."

  • by atraintocry ( 1183485 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:23PM (#26425379)

    I think your average person is content to admit that they don't understand the universe and everything in it. Religious or not.

    Atheism is something of a loaded term since people seem to want to equate it with not only not believing in a god, but loudly denying the possibility of one.

    What you replied to was a clear troll (or maybe Richard Dawkins), and since you mention "keeping score", please don't add that troll to the atheist side.

  • IMHO nothing can either prove or disprove the existence of God, at least nothing in the physical world. If god created everything, then he must by definition not be part of it because creation is an action and in order for an action to occur there must be two things A) the thing doing the action and B) the thing being acted on.

    here is something to ponder for those of you who only believe the the physical world: Close your eyes, and twiddle your thumbs, now think what told your tumbs to twiddle? your brain right? yes, but what told your brain to tell your thumbs to twiddle? this is what i would call god. i am god.

    God wants pizza

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:35PM (#26426829) Journal
    "In my experience so far, atheists are more dogmatic, more aggressive and less rational than the average person of religion."

    Perhaps you have experienced dickheads so lets take a look at a famous Atheist. Dawkins points out ALL religious people are also Atheists, they just went one god too far. ie: They don't belive in Thor, the FSM, etc, but they do belive in an alpha male in the sky using only blind faith as evidence.

    "If life were replicated in a test tube would that disprove the existence of God? Please explain how, as I don't see any logical path of reasoning that leads to that conclusion."

    No but it certainly pins the tail on the creationists donkeys. Dawkins entire point is that religion promotes "unthinking as a virtue" and that this permeates into politics and the rest of society. He does not claim he can prove god doesn't exist he claims that there is no evidence and therefore the RATIONAL course of action is to assume he doesn't.

    Dawkins has the same fears as Sagan [] did, and yeah, he's more agressive about it. I suggest you read Dawkins and Sagan's books and think about what they are saying, after all "doubting Thomas" was Jesus' favorite deciple.
  • by peektwice ( 726616 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:45PM (#26426951)

    Dawkins entire point is that religion promotes "unthinking as a virtue"

    Atheism promotes this just as much as religion. Every single atheist I have ever spoken to (hyperbole aside) has had the same mental block as every religious fanatic I have ever spoken to. They can't entertain ideas they don't support. It is truly dogmatic. However, a distinction must be made between "religion" and a belief in God. A belief in the existence of a higher power, whether it is the alpha male, or a mathematical equation or whatever, does not automatically imply religion. Let the flames begin.

  • Re:wtf? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:54PM (#26427603)

    Not trolling, but (famous last words)
    XKCD makes shallow, pseudo-intellectual observational humor, and nerds laugh their asses off.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:00AM (#26428067) Journal
    "Where did the infinitely massive object come from? Does your faith in science tell you that it was just always there?"

    That bit of twisted logic is known as the "god of the gaps". Not knowing the answer to everything is not evidence that there exists "a higher power" that does.

    "Why is the belief in a higher power any more or less "religious" than the belief in a big bang?"

    Science does not prove anything, it provides the best explaination for observations. The observable expansion of the visable universe is EVIDENCE to support the big bang. Science does not claim that god didn't light the fuse, it claims there is no EVIDENCE of a fuse. There are lots of things you can believe in without evidence, such unicorns and fairies, why is a belief in fairies any more or less rational than a belief in "a higher power"?
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:26AM (#26429159)

    I appreciate science in many forms but when it comes to genetic issues or giving artificial life I think its better to leave things as they are.

    Part of this kind of research is to see if life could have been created from the primordial soup and how that may have happened. This may give us insights as to the minimal requirements for life here and on other worlds.

    In addition, one of the arguments religion uses is that life is too complex to have been created except by God (by accident so to speak). Putting aside any arguments as to if there is or is not a God and/or if that being created life, this research may show if it is at least *possible* to have happened on its own.

  • by ancient_kings ( 1000970 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:02AM (#26429799)
    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 to form a working PC really understand how the central CPU is designed? F**k no. Or how a modern GPU works or is assembled or the material properties why it works? F**K no. I'll bet most Heath Kitt enthusiast couldn't even described dI/dt for a simple inductors, capacitor and resistor to a AC line. Please.
  • by indifferent children ( 842621 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:15AM (#26431483)
    Big bang theorists have a belief, or faith if you will, in a theory forwards the notion that EVERYTHING came from a single infinitely massive object that exploded from nothing and caused everything to just "be".

    No, scientists have a theory, based on evidence, that there was a big bang. One tiny shred of (verifiable) contradictory evidence, and the big bang would be disproven.

    Where did the infinitely massive object come from? Does your faith in science tell you that it was just always there?

    No, the only scientific answer to your question is, "We don't know." And that is the difference between science and religion.

  • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:43AM (#26433855)

    Get a life: the fact they mutate positively, towards an end of creating "better" enzymes: they were designed.

    No, the mutation procedure used for in vitro evolution is unintelligent and nonspecific and produces both "better" and "worse" enzymes. It is selection that picks out the "better" mutations and discards the worse ones. No intelligence as to what changes will make the enzyme better is required.

  • 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.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats