The Dim-Post

May 23, 2010

Newkaryote

Filed under: science,Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:54 am

One of the better articles about Craig Venter’s new synthetic bacteria:

To distinguish their synthetic genome from the naturally occurring version, the researchers encoded a series of watermarks into the sequence. They began by developing a code for writing the English alphabet, as well as punctuation and numbers, into the language of DNA–a decoding key is included in the sequence itself. Then they wrote in their names, a few quotations, and the address for a website people can visit if they successfully crack the code.

The absence of these features in naturally occurring DNA is yet another argument against the intelligent design hypothesis.

The synthetic genome is an impressive feat of biology but I’m not sure its the breakthrough we’ve been hearing about. Recombinant DNA technology has been around for a while (the Nobel for it was awarded in 1978) and that gives you the ability to tailor make recombinant cells that express particular proteins. The tricky part isn’t modifying the DNA of the cells (we get our undergraduate students to do that in third year labs) but understanding the protein structure and interactions.

Building a cell that can replicate itself it pretty impressive but building a cell that can (say) be injected into a mammal without triggering an immune response is going to be much, much harder.

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17 Comments »

  1. “The absence of these features in naturally occurring DNA is yet another argument against the intelligent design hypothesis.”

    It could just be that Kronos has sloppy handwriting, wrote in Etruscan, and that we haven’t looked yet. :-) Was it the Carl Sagan novel that used this as a premise? Coding Pi into the genome, and a tv picture?

    Comment by vibenna — May 23, 2010 @ 11:24 am

  2. “The absence of these features in naturally occurring DNA is yet another argument against the intelligent design hypothesis.”

    Or that God has no vanity, which raises the additional question where vanity comes from, hence proof of the intelligent design theory.
    Until we understand a lot more, there really is no basis for a hypothesis either way.

    Comment by bez — May 23, 2010 @ 11:33 am

  3. Was it the Carl Sagan novel that used this as a premise? Coding Pi into the genome

    At the end of Cosmos it is suggested there is a hidden code in Pi or another transcendental number.

    Comment by Danyl Mclauchlan — May 23, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

  4. Or that God has no vanity

    Maybe not, but he doesn’t really come across as a humble guy in any of the major holy books.

    Comment by Danyl Mclauchlan — May 23, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  5. “Maybe not, but he doesn’t really come across as a humble guy in any of the major holy books.”

    But then again, none of the major holy books have been written by God herself.

    Comment by bez — May 23, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  6. But then again, none of the major holy books have been written by God herself.

    Creating the universe out of nothing was easy, but to create the instructions that come with it, well, that’s completely different.

    Comment by eszett — May 23, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  7. “The absence of these features in naturally occurring DNA is yet another argument against the intelligent design hypothesis.”

    Not a strong argument. Maybe we haven’t found it yet.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson — May 23, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  8. “But then again, none of the major holy books have been written by God herself.”

    True. But in that case, why bother with them?

    Comment by Flynn — May 23, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  9. ‘But then again, none of the major holy books have been written by God herself.’

    But he did write the 10 commandments and they make pretty interesting reading.

    It seems strange to me that a God would make a world that everywhere we look seems like it was not made by a God.

    Comment by ieuan — May 23, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

  10. The absence of these features in naturally occurring DNA is yet another argument against the intelligent design hypothesis.

    or God is a supporter of open source.

    Comment by Neil — May 23, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  11. Heysuz wears roman sandals and programs linux variants – duuuude, *snort* *snort*.

    Comment by patx — May 23, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

  12. The Qur’an is the literal word of God (in Islamic mythology). That’s why translations into other languages don’t count as the “real” Qur’an, because God was speaking in Arabic.

    Comment by derp de derp — May 24, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  13. But he did write the 10 commandments and they make pretty interesting reading.

    There’s actually 600-odd commandments in the bible, most are in Leviticus.

    My personal favourite is the one about burning your house to the ground if you discover black mould growing in it.
    Were Wellingtonians to follow the commandments literally, we could get rid of Newtown in one glorious fire-and-brimstone afternoon.

    Comment by Phil — May 24, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  14. Roger Parkinson:Not a strong argument. Maybe we haven’t found it yet.

    We’ve sequenced enough genomes to know that there are no hidden messages. Indeed any such message couldn’t survive for long anyway due to mutation.

    Comment by chiz — May 24, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  15. We’ve sequenced enough genomes to know that there are no hidden messages
    We’ve got so far defining Pi that there can’t be any secret sequence to it. Yet mathematicians far smarter than you and I continue looking for one.

    Indeed any such message couldn’t survive for long anyway due to mutation
    That’s actually a really good point.

    Comment by Phil — May 24, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  16. Indeed any such message couldn’t survive for long anyway due to mutation

    The mutations just mean G_D isn’t done righting it yet.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — May 24, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  17. “There’s actually 600-odd commandments in the bible, most are in Leviticus.”

    indeed. some are particularly odd.

    Comment by kahikatea — May 24, 2010 @ 8:24 pm


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