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Submission + - Scientists Create Artificial Life (

causality writes: "Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world's first synthetic life form. Scientists have created the world's first synthetic life form in a landmark experiment that paves the way for designer organisms that are built rather than evolved. The controversial feat, which has occupied 20 scientists for more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40m, was described by one researcher as "a defining moment in biology". Craig Venter, the pioneering US geneticist behind the experiment, said the achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and even manufacture vaccines. However critics, including some religious groups, condemned the work, with one organisation warning that artificial organisms could escape into the wild and cause environmental havoc or be turned into biological weapons. Others said Venter was playing God." A video is also available here and an alternate news source here. What could possibly go wrong?

Bacteria As Fuel Cells? 122

KantIsDead writes "MIT's Tech Review is running an interview with Boston University Bioengineer Tim Gardner about the possibility of using bacteria to produce electricity. If fuel cells running off sugar are nearly here, alcohol-powered robots cannot be far." From the article: "While typical fuel cells use hydrogen as fuel, separating out electrons to create electricity, bacteria can use a wide variety of nutrients as fuel. Some species, such as Shewanella oneidensis and Rhodoferax ferrireducens, turn these nutrients directly into electrons. Indeed, scientists have already created experimental microbial fuel cells that can run off glucose and sewage. Although these microscopic organisms are remarkably efficient at producing energy, they don't make enough of it for practical applications."

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