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Archive for May 2010

Synthetic cell

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Scientists have created synthetic life in the form of a new species of bacteria that operates entirely under the control of a man-made set of genetic instructions, originally stored on a computer. They synthesised the genome of a bacterial cell and used it to “boot up” the empty cell of another species of bacteria, which then replicated freely as if it were carrying its own set of genetic instructions instead of a set made in a laboratory.

“This is the first synthetic cell that’s been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome, made with four bottles of chemicals on a chemical synthesiser, starting with information in a computer,” Dr Venter said.

“This now provides a ‘proof of concept’. The applications of this enabling technology are enormous and one might argue this is a key step in the industrialisation of synthetic biology leading to a new era of biotechnology,” he added. Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said the study was an important step in the development of a new area of science. “Synthetic biology is a relatively new field and within the global research community there is some truly avant-garde science happening.”

Some ethicists, however, expressed concerns. “Venter is not merely copying life artificially … he is going towards the role of a god – creating artificial life that could never have existed naturally,” said Professor Julian Savulescu, an ethicist at the University of Oxford.

“What is really dangerous is these scientists’ ambitions for total control over nature, which many people describe as ‘playing God’. The claim of authorship of nature goes hand-in-hand with the claim to monopoly patent rights over it,” said David King of Human Genetics Alert.

Interesting discussion beneath full article in today’s Independent:

Are we getting closer to ‘God’?


Written by tree2one

May 21, 2010 at 9:04 am

Posted in free speech

Parallels between current Canadian and UK Political situation

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Why is it that no one in the press has draw the parallel between the current Canadian political situation and the new political situation in the UK.

The equivalent of the Labour party of Canada, the Liberals, ruled Canada for an extended period of time. They also ruled through a crisis triggered by a Moody’s possible downgrade.

Paul Martin was an acclaimed Treasurer who took over for Jean Cretien but was never elected as Prime Minister.

After scandals, the Liberals (Lab equivalent), were dropped, but the conservative party in Canada could only manage a minority election success.

The conservative party of Canada is only strong in the West, as the Tories are only strong in England.

Quebec has a strong nationalist party, the Bloc Quebecois which is equivalent the the SNP, although more successful.

Only the Liberals have a trans Canadian presence- ala Labour.

Canada has a strong “3rd” party which is always pushing for PR, the NDP- National Democratic Party- akin to the Liberal Democratic party in the UK.

Canada has a first past the post system which usually means a minority government doesn’t last.

But this one has, because none of the parties can gain any traction in any of the elections they have called.

The great thing is that their status as a minority government has meant the conservatives in Canada couldn’t be as brutal and right wing as they wanted to be, which Canadians are happy with, but they still had a conservative agenda, which Canadians wanted a bit of.

I’d argue the UK is in a similar position, wanting the toughness and cuts and market orientation of the Tories without letting them get too extreme and theoretical….

So a hung parliament can work (see Canada), and it’s not unprecedented, and in fact the overlap is incredibly similar.

Written by rexinfinite

May 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Posted in free speech

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