Breakthroughs

Scientists Create ‘Artificial Life’

This will either end greatly or horribly: American scientists announced on Thursday that they have created the “first synthetic living cell.” Dr. Craig Venter and a team of scientists created a synthetic genome that can be transplanted into a host cell; the cell then behaves according to what is “dictated” by the synthetic DNA. Venter explained, "As soon as this new software goes into the cell, the cell reads [it] and converts into the species specified in that genetic code." Scientists hope that such cells will one day produce medicines and fuels and absorb greenhouse gases. Some scientists worry though that the cells could be dangerous: "If you release new organisms into the environment, you can do more harm than good," said Dr. Helen Wallace of GeneWatch UK. "By releasing them into areas of pollution, you're releasing a new kind of pollution.”