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Personalized medicine: Check your DNA at the door - SmartPlanet

College kids survive on a diet of beer and pizza, but personalized medicine might soon change that. This summer, UC - Berkeley wants 5,500 new students to participate in a DNA experiment: The students will be required to return a swab of their cheek cells, so they can find out if they have the genes to metabolize folate, lactose, and alcohol. Ideally, the students who lack the genes will modify their behavior accordingly. They would eat more green vegetables, avoid milk products (and prepare to explain to everyone and their mother why they now drink soy milk), and hold back on the drinking. [more...]

Date: 2010-05-21 11:45:21

Blog posts (8) | Videos (3)

Artificial Life Created in a Laboratory for the First Time ...

They manufactured a new chromosome from artificial DNA in a test tube, then transferred it into an empty cell and watched it multiply – the very definition of being alive. The man-made single cell “creature”, which is a modified version of one of the simplest bacteria on earth, proves that the technology works. Now Dr Venter believes organism, nicknamed Synthia, will pave the way for more complex creatures that can transform environmental waste into clean fuel, vaccinate against disease and soak up pollution. But his development has also triggered debate over the ethics of “playing [more...]

Date: 2010-05-21 13:46:05

Claim of Having Created Synthetic Life Is Far Overblown

A valid claim of creating synthetic life would require that – Even absent an agreed-upon ethics-based definition of “synthetic life,” a common sense definition would require that: (1) The synthetic DNA coding and sequencing not slavishly copy a known life form. Otherwise Life has done all the work in evolutionarily stumbling upon a coding sequence and organization that can self-replicate an organism on its own. (2) The synthesized DNA must either (a) code its own contents-enclosure (cell wall for bacteria) or (b) be placed in equally novel, human-created container, rather than [more...]

Date: 2010-06-18 13:37:40

Craig Venter Profile - Breakthrough Leadership Winner Craig Venter ...

Having a clear definition of which genes are essential is going to be important for future design projects. As the population goes from 6.8 billion people to more than 9 billion over the next 40 years, we’re going to need a lot more food, clean water, medicine and fuel to power all these things. We’re now a society that’s 100 percent dependent on science for our survival. It’s not a gentleman’s sport. We think this is one of the most powerful tools—at least on the biology side—that we can apply to all these critical needs. Q: How did a former surf bum, as some have called you, make [more...]

Date: 2010-10-04 11:30:00

What did you learn about the singularity today?

by Anders Sandberg http://www.aleph.se/andart/archives/2010/10/what_did_you_learn_about_the_singularity_today.html Anna Salamon gave a talk on "How intelligible is intelligence?" The key question is whether there exists simple principles that could produce powerful optimizers that work on many domains and targets, and whether they are easy to figure out. This has obvious implications for the above questions, such as how likely sudden breakthroughs are compared to slow trial-and-error and complete failure (c.f. my and Carl's talk). While she did not have a precise and formal definition of [more...]

Date: 2010-10-13 02:18:32

Organic Food – Bah Hum Bug! «

USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) definition, from April 1995 “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. “‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological [more...]

Date: 2010-10-13 15:31:15

Scientists Create First Living Synthetic Cell With Computer, Mix ...

TORONTO – In revolutionary research that may end up altering our definition of life, scientists have created the first synthetic cell powered by artificially created DNA. The achievement caps 15 years of work by a large team of researchers, led by Craig Venter of Human Genome Project fame, who engineered a chromosome and inserted it into a bacterium to create a new living entity. ``This is the first self-replicating species that we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer,’’ Venter told a teleconference presented Thursday by the journal Science, which published the work. The [more...]

Date: 2010-05-21 14:21:11

Have scientists really created artificial life in a test tube...

"It's a new enabling technology, but it tells you as much about the definition of life as anything else. We consider it a philosophical leap, being able to start with information in the computer, build the chromosome chemically and have it active. That has never been done before. It has changed my definitions of life and how dynamic it is - simply by putting new software into the cell, the cell starts producing the new proteins coded for by that software and creates a new cell. So life is much more dynamic than most people envision and the dynamic process is totally controlled by the software [more...]

Date: 2010-05-21 08:09:00

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