Thursday, May 20, 2010

A New Age - 'Creating' Life

Just published on the journal Science's online platform, a group from the Craig J Venter Institute has created a bacterium using an entirely synthetic genome. This is effectively the first time humans have created life from inanimate substances.

Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before this was done, and the future is now. However, while I am entirely for new scientific discovery and inquiry, this really is an eye-opening research result, where humans are 'playing God.' We need to have a very serious discussion on the ethics behind such research, and consider as best we can the unintended consequences of such research. While this was a case of creating a known bacterium, what happens when someone creates a new organism that literally is a brand new, never before seen life form? How can we know what will happen if something that never has existed in Nature comes out of a test tube? While we have that potential on a daily basis with mutations of existing single-celled organisms, this adds a new layer to the possibilities of life that could arise. Ever since humans have learned to genetically engineer organisms, there has been the potential of manufacturing new organisms that could become the ultimate biological weapon, or create scenarios that were once unimaginable. These are issues that most people are unaware of and don't consider, but this must change so political leaders from the global community can address the issue, sooner than later. With new global energy being put into nuclear proliferation, this is the next step in addressing matters that have profound effects on nothing more than global security and the future of human existence on the Earth.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Anniversary - 50 Years of the LASER

Ah, the laser...this stands for Light Amplification of Stimulated Emission of Radiation. They are spread throughout our society, and most of us do not even realize it. Laser pointers. Security systems. CD players. DVD players. Construction. Grocery store scanners. Surgery. Industry. Making holograms. Telecommunications.

The laser was invented some 50 years ago, and the applications only become more numerous by the day. Check out Scientific American's tribute to this amazing device, first predicted in the 1920s by none other than Albert Einstein.