May 212010

This post title was taken directly from the Sciencexpress research article title. Here are a few headlines from the popular press.
1st cell with synthetic genome — TheScientist
J. Craig Venter Institute creates first synthetic life form — The Christian Science Monitor
Scientists Create First Self-Replicating Synthetic Life — Wired

I think the media is more about sensationalized entertainment than informative reporting, but you would expect them to at least accurately report the facts somewhere in their reporting. I shouldn’t be surprise at the exaggerated claims from the popular press, except over time we have become desensitized to this misreporting and we are being collectively brainwashed to believe the popular press rather than reality. I think this is also in part for the widespread acceptance of Darwinism.

I want to commend Venter and his team for doing some amazing bioengineering work. It will undoubtedly lead to other breakthroughs in treating illnesses. However it does fall far short of what scientists ultimately would like to do, i.e. to create life from scratch. In other words, what Venter has done is still a long way from what the popular press headlines are claiming.

What Venter’s team has accomplished is exactly what they set out to do as reported back in 2003 and I posted about it here in 2005. While this is a remarkable piece of bioengineering, in truth Venter has not actually created any life. He merely took the digitized genome of a Mycoplasma mycoides, assembled the DNA from small pieces and inserted it into the cell of a Mycoplasma capricolum with its genetic material removed through enzymatic process.

I don’t know about you but the headline says “first synthetic life” or “Create First Self-Replicating Synthetic Life” I would expect a de novo DNA of a genomic sequence that does not exist. I would expect something from molecules to a self replicating cell. In the whole scheme of things, this is more like copying someone else’s homework with borrowed papers and pen. Unfortunately, I think scientists sometimes are complicit in misleading the public by not admonishing or even correcting these sensational headlines. This kind of misinformation does not ultimately benefit science.

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10 years ago
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