A small correction to Teancum's reading of the article, the next step would be to create an artificial *prokaryote* or bacteria, not a eukaryote. The goal of eukaryotic life being made in the lab is quite a ways away, since it would require the ability to create a working nucleus/nuclear-pore system for moving mRNA to the rest of the cell, as well as the creation of many membrane bound organelles (mitochodria, chloroplasts -- if it is a plant, endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparatus, etc) which are functionally important to the cell. The goal of prokaryotic artificial life is much closer as the DNA is translated to mRNA in the cytoplasm, and all processes are conducted without the more sophisticated organelles. In fact, Mycoplasma genitalium, the bacteria used, follows this line of thought, and his new 'species' is called Mycoplasma laboratorium (a very creative name). Other than that, you are right on your points Teancum.
The good news on this goal is that much of the technology needed is available. We can currently create artificially plasma membranes (though the bilayer specific phospholipids found in living cells tend to be mixed into both of the bilayers), and as shown by Ventor, we can create the necessary chromosomes. Much remains to do, but we are getting closer.
Unfortunately, our current understanding of protein structure and function as based on the raw DNA code is still lacking, and so any chromosome, including Ventors, would not be original in the genetic coding, but would rather be a spliced together collection of genes that we know the function of (I believe his goal was the minimum necessary genome). To be truly artificial life, it would need to be a base by base creation.
Many people are against this kind of work, out of fears of it harming humans or intermixing with natural bacteria. One solution to this, which can only take place once we have the knowledge to design every protein and base pair of a cell, would be to create a new genetic code. I believe Dr. James Watson (who proved that DNA was the heritable material of all life) proposed a scheme that he thought was the real one (before we actually determined it). I am fairly certain it is in his book "DNA: the Secret of Life" and it is so far off of what we have now, if we gave it to artificial bacteria and it was transferred to other natural bacteria, they would only see junk in the code. It might even prevent the bacteria from becoming virulent to humans, but this might not be guaranteed.
"In theory, the set-up should have acted as a giant pendulum, providing enough momentum to send Fotino back to Earth.
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