Biologists on the Verge of Creating New Form of Life

Discussion in 'The Study' started by elder999, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    Just had another thought: Maybe God isn't ignoring our prayers... maybe he just had his funding cut. ?
     
  2. theletch1

    theletch1 Grandmaster

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    If any life is formed at all there simply won't be enough time in the lives of any of us here to see any evolution at all... unless they've figured out how to speed that up as well.

    Maybe he's just saying no. ;)
     
  3. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    I'm sure that they're already thinking in that direction-I mean, after you've provided the stimulus that sparks "life," what comes next?
     
  4. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    If they don't come up with a way to speed up the process, then everything we've learned from Star Trek is wrong.
     
  5. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    Why would he say no to a beer volcano? The Pastafarians get one.
     
  6. Andy Moynihan

    Andy Moynihan Senior Master

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    And that's my only issue with scientists, is the ones what get so wrapped up in whether they "could" do something that they never stop to consider whether they "should" do it.

    Frankenstein and Moreau were supposed to be cautionary tales, not prophecy.

    But--unsurprising. It's human nature to mess with what we shouldn't. We have no natural predators left save ourselves and that's not culling our numbers fast enough, so we have to create our own doom by SOME means after all *shrug*.
     
  7. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    I have the same issue, given my field. A good look at the Manhattan Project reveals a variety of grave misgivings, but they all went ahead and did it anyway.

    Alas, all too often there is no difference......
     
  8. theletch1

    theletch1 Grandmaster

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    Wow, a highly edumacated "Hey, ya'll! Watch this!"
     
  9. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    ...and entirely the product of, "What do you think would happen if......"
     
  10. Empty Hands

    Empty Hands Senior Master

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    Give it time, give it time...
     
  11. astrobiologist

    astrobiologist Brown Belt

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    Since I am an astrobiologist and my main field of research has been in molecular biology, I feel a compulsion to reply :)

    First off, MACaver, my speleologically inclinded fellow poster, you are assuming that all scientist must believe that something created them. I don't believe in biblical creationism and I've worked in a few labs. I never thought to myself, "I'd like to be better than the Christian god, so I'm going to play around in lab today trying to create life". Also, remember, there are a lot of female scientists in the world (so we're not all just guys in lab coats).

    Next, the scientists who are doing much of the protocell research that I've heard of really aren't about "creating" anything. It's not about trying to disprove religious dogma or belief; that all occurs outside of the lab. When a scientist is at work, they generally mantain an objective and open minded approach to their work. There are many theistic scientists (though they are a minority in my field) who also leave their views of religion outside of the lab.

    What's going on with protocell research is that we are trying to determine what is necessary, in cellular and molecular respects, for life as we know it to function. Also, this research may give us a better idea of what was happening to primordial cellular forms which became life as we know it.

    As far as the idea of "rearranging" is concerned, the amino acids, nucleic acids, lipids, and other molecules that these scientists are working with can be found in nature without the presence of life as we know it. The more complex forms of these molecules are specific to life, because, even though they may form on their own in nature, without an enzymatic catalyst their formation may take thousands to millions of years (due to the thermodynamics/kinetics of their formation). However, basic amino acids and nucleic acids can form free of enzymes.

    Also, for the "rearranging" theorists here, the First Law of Thermodynamics states that "energy cannot be created or destroyed" and the Law of the Conservation of Mass states that "matter cannot be created or destroyed". Indeed, this means that regardless of what happens, it will always be "rearranging". The only way creationists overcome this when stating their beliefs is by inventing supernatural speculation that cannot be tested. This is why creationism is not science; though it is indeed very intriguing as a religious viewpoint and deserves its rightful place in the philosophy classroom (and the anthropology classroom as well).

    On to the statement about how it would take too long to observe the evolution of a living protocell when formed... Evolution is dependant upon replication and mutation/change. Some organisms have replication rates that are very fast compared to humans. Microorganisms are definitely in this group. As long as there is a process of change (biochemical mutation) and the organism is replicating fairly quickly, we may be able to observe its evolution. Though we wouldn't see much change (the cells wouldn't magically turn into fish and then somehow remorph into wildebeasts...), it would most likely be detectable with the methods of biochemistry. Indeed, in general biology, microbiology, genetics, and biochemistry labs in colleges and universities across the world, students are using stimuli of one form or another to cause communities of microorganisms to replicate and mutate over days and weeks, evolving into new strains right before their eyes.

    I personally am very interested in this research. As an astrobiologist, I seek to understand how life may form, evolve, and radiate in this universe. Understanding the basis for life as we know it is a very important part of that goal. Thanks elder999 for bringing this up.
     
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  12. MA-Caver

    MA-Caver Sr. Grandmaster

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    Nope, because He's already blamed you first... that's why people turn and look in YOUR direction when it happens. :lol:
     
  13. MA-Caver

    MA-Caver Sr. Grandmaster

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    My reply was intended to be tongue in cheek but without tonal inflections to help show that I can see how I might've *ahem* stepped on a few toes ... without realizing or intending to... :asian: My apologies for any offense.
    Not all scientists are atheists that I've known for a long time but I know the ones who are aren't trying to prove anything other than all those years of hard-study and work/research is actually taking them somewhere.
    You're a smarter person than me and the diploma(s) on your wall will attest to that.
     
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  14. teekin

    teekin 3rd Black Belt

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    All the coolest idea's and inventions start out with that phrase. If there is a wee bit of alcohol involved it's often an X-game. Like bungee jumping.:rolleyes:
    Lori
     
  15. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Guys at CalTech started that one.....:lol:

    You don't even wanna know about the places that phrase has taken me over the last 20 or 25 years...:lol:

    Gotta good homemade submarine story......scary stupid fun! :lol:

    (It's probably one of the only ones I'm allowed to tell....:uhohh::lol: )
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  16. teekin

    teekin 3rd Black Belt

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    Yep, or " if the Zodiac is completely submerged but the Motor isn't, will all 10 of us still make it across the lake?" ( the answer is, yes)
    Lori
     
  17. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Pretty sure they're made to operate that way-leastaways, that's what Some Extra Able Lads say......:lol:
     
  18. crushing

    crushing Grandmaster

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    Hmmm. A couple responses come to mind. . .

    Did CalTech have an exchange student program with Vanuatu?

    Did the "guys at CalTech" really create bungie jumping, or did they merely re-arrange land diving?

    ;)
     
  19. mrhnau

    mrhnau Senior Master

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    you mean, you don't? I thought we all did! hehe

    The question about what is critical for life has raged for over a decade now. Nothing novel about that. Knockout expirements have laid some pretty good groundwork for what is "critical". Frankly, genomics has not clearly annotated all of the existing genes for sequenced organisms (at least to my knowledge in the past few years), so a lot of what they are doing has to simply be shots in the dark. Mix a bit of that, take out this somewhat "needless chunk" and see what happens. I'd suggest fully comprehending what exists now before trying to go backwards. But what would i know :p

    yet life is not a simple arrangement of amino acids and base pairs. It's a carefully calibrated series of pathways. You don't simply mix and match things randomly and expect life to pop out. Even these groups are not attempting that (at least I hope not!).These guys are not re-inventing replication.

    It's an interesting field, with a lot of potential in the future.

    Now, specific to the topic. What this group seems to be doing is using previous pathways and examples from existing organisms as a template to make something "novel". From a purist point of view, that happens every time a mutation happens or some sexually reproducing event occurs. It happens during knock-out assays in genetics labs on a daily basis.

    If you want to impress me, develop some novel biochemical pathway. Metabolize some novel substrate that has not been demonstrated before. Create a new organelle. Finish the complete annotation of existing genes before you start pounding your chest about "creating new life". Than you will have my respect. Until then, its just taking previous lessons and taking small steps forward.


    Yes, its kind of interesting, but I'm not totally in awe...
     
  20. celtic_crippler

    celtic_crippler Senior Master

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    I hope they don't create any tiny black holes that would destroy the world. =-P123
     

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