Hooray for Neo-Organisms, I Guess...
Here's the most interesting part of the article:
[Dr. Venter's] team is using synthetic chromosomes to modify organisms that already exist, not making new life, he said. Organisms already exist that produce octane, but not in amounts needed to be a fuel supply.
"If they could produce things on the scale we need, this would be a methane planet," Venter said. "The scale is what is critical; which is why we need to genetically design them."
The genetics of octane-producing organisms can be tinkered with to increase the amount of CO2 they eat and octane they excrete, according to Venter.
The limiting part of the equation isn't designing an organism, it's the difficulty of extracting high concentrations of CO2 from the air to feed the organisms, the scientist said in answer to a question from Page.
Scientists put "suicide genes" into their living creations so that if they escape the lab, they can be triggered to kill themselves.
The creepy thing about this is that they never really say what "organism" they're modifying. Is it bigger than a breadbox? Are there different kinds? Could you do it to cockroaches? Because I hate those things. And that's not even looking beyond the "suicide genes" sentence. (Is that ethical if it's a living creature? What if they design the organism with minimal sentience? The mind boggles.)
What I'm saying is, the sci-fi novel-and-movie inspired by this piece practically writes itself. In a nod to Shakespeare and Huxley, we could title it That Has Such Creatures In It.
Labels: current events