Old 01-24-2008, 01:51 PM   #1
Philboid Studge
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It's Alive!

This is a signficant story, the syntheis of an entire bacterium's genome. (It has been done with viruses before but not bacteria.)

There's a better telling of the backstory to this in last week's Science News.

Among other things, we might start to get deeper explanations for abiogenesis.

The Times never mentions where the naturally occuring bacterium naturally occurs: in the vagina mainly, though sometimes in the urinary tract of either sex.

If I were a shameless playwright, I'd have the first artificial life springing from our loins too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Old 01-24-2008, 02:03 PM   #2
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Pretty amazing. The NYT article didn't quote any religiots discussing the "ethics" of such experiments. The closest they come:

Quote:
Some activist groups say Dr. Venter is going too far, too fast, this time, and that the entire field of synthetic biology needs outside regulation to prevent the introduction of dangerous organisms, created either by evil intent or by innocent error.
That paragraph is freakin' sweet. Isn't this how all the comic book villains start out?

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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Old 01-24-2008, 04:42 PM   #3
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I'm going to follow the lead of someone in the Onion's opinion column and "wait for an opinionated monk to call himself a bioethicist and weigh in."

No, not really. Isn't this just fucking sweet?! Venter says one of his main plans for this organism is the production of environmentally friendly fuel for cars and power stations and the like. Not only does this thing deliver a steel-toecapped boot up the shitter of all those annoying new-age hippies who want everyone to live in caves and eat leather-free shoes, it administers a rusty hook to those creationists who blather about how jesus must have dunnit because life is so hugely complicated that we can't even create the smallest bacterium.

I'm so very, very glad to be studying biology right now.
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:26 PM   #4
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As an aside, since I just love to have my mind blown with the power at humanity's fingertips (not to mention hearing the sound of my own voice) and am annoyed by people ignorant of genetic engineering who say that "playing god" is not right, I'm going to shamelessly steal an idea from here and compare our current scientific knowledge and technological might with that of god, as described in Job whatever:whatever. Awaaaay!

Quote:
Job 38:4-7: "Where were you when I laid the
earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off
its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line
across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its
cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the
angels shouted for joy?"
Straight out of the blocks, god reveals his colossal ignorance of the very world he supposedly created. Last time I loaded up google Earth, I distinctly remember thinking to myself that the sphere on my screen was noticeably lacking in a foundation and corners.

As for "stretching a measuring line" across it, this was done with the aid of nothing more than noon shadows, wells and a bit of simple maths by the ancient Greeks. It really isn't very difficult.

Not only can we now measure the dimensions of our world with breathtaking accuracy, we can measure the distances across the vast gulfs of space to other planets, and even to the edge of the visible universe, with a surprising degree of precision.


Quote:
Job 38:8-11: "Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its
garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for
it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, `This far you
may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves
halt'?"
Today, we explain why the sea stops where it does by the arrangement of gigantic mountains that poke above its surface, the arrangement and formation of which is explained by plate tectonics. Should we so desire, we can push back that boundary to reclaim the seabed and create artificial islands big enough for international airports:



While god's description implies the existence of some disgustingly gigantic vagina, we can thankfully say that no such thing exists because we now know that Earth's oceans were formed over tens of millions of years, due to volcanic activity and heavy comet bombardment at the beginning of its history.


Quote:
Job 38:12-15: "Have you ever given orders to the
morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth
by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape
like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a
garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm
is broken."
With these quite ridiculous assertions, god shows that he thinks that the sun rises by grabbing the Earth and shaking it until all the night falls off somehow. Clearly, this is about as far from the truth as it is possible to be, since the day/night cycle is a consequence of nothing more than the Earth's rotation.

In addition, mankind can banish the "evil" darkness whenever it sees fit, thanks to a thing called the light bulb.


Quote:
Job 38:16: "Have you journeyed to the springs of
the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?
You bet your ass.





Quote:
Job 38:17: "Have the gates of death been shown to
you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of
death?""
Thanks to the relentless, ongoing advance of medical science, it is quite possible to revive people who, in biblical times, would have certainly died. With speedy and appropriate treatment, it is possible to revive people who have been shot, burned, submerged or beaten to an amazing extent.

It is now possible to snatch people back even as the gates of death groan shut.

Further, we understand death today really rather well. We know that it is caused by a failure of brain function, with no incorporeal souls or hippy bollocks involved whatsoever.


Quote:
Job 38:18-21: "Have you comprehended the vast
expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. "What is
the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can
you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their
dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have
lived so many years!"
Not only can we comprehend the vast expanses of the Earth, we can summon them from the internet at the merest whim. We can even fly high enough to see them for ourselves, if we're really rich.

The "way to the abode of light" is surely straight into the fusion-powered core of the sun (something that even the most brow-ridged hominid could tell you), via big rocket. Quite why anyone would want to go there, however, is another matter. Why would god ask if we had ever been to a place where we would surely be blasted instantly to atoms?

Maybe he meant Las Vegas. Last time I checked, that town was the home of Satan.

I don't remember darkness being a living thing either (or, as he described it earlier, "evil") - I always thought it was a lack of some types of quantum packets of energy.


Quote:
Job 38:22-23: "Have you entered the storehouses of
the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for
times of trouble, for days of war and battle?"
Since when were hailstones and snowflakes stored in warehouses? These days, the processes by which they form - in clouds - are very well understood.

And since when were they considered weapons? Does Jesus load his strategic bombers with snowballs? I didn't think ice cube trays were on the Geneva convention's list of banned weapons.

Humanity's weapons are powerful enough to make god quail in terror. The Hiroshima nuke, an insignificant little thing compared to later devices, was powerful enough to create its own rain on an otherwise cloudless day. On top of the wiping of a city from the face of the Earth, of course.


Quote:
Job 38:24: "What is the way to the place where the
lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are
scattered over the earth?"
The place where the lightning is dispersed can be found through the following quest:

In your tome of internet, find the page of the seer, Google. Humbly request to the machine spirit within that it find information regarding the fanatics of electrical engineering, and their sect of the founders of the Tesla coil.

The Omnissiah will grant the machine spirit the knowledge of these groups and, with the correct rituals of clicking and emailing, will cause it to grant you access to the sanctum of one of these sects.

Then, get in your car and go and see their lightning disperser:



As for the East winds, we know where they come from thanks to meteorology.
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:27 PM   #5
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Wait, there's more. Joy!

Quote:
Job 38:25-27: "Who cuts a channel for the torrents
of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no
man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate
wasteland and make it sprout with grass?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain? WE DO!



Who creates life from a lifeless desert? WE DO!




Quote:
Job 38:28: "Does the rain have a father? Who
fathers the drops of dew?"
Nobody, as has been understood for a considerable amount of time. They're both just condensation.

God claiming direct responsibility for this is almost as ridiculous as that chick tract that claims protons in an atomic nucleus don't fly apart because Jesus holds them together.


Quote:
Job 38:29-30: "From whose womb comes the ice? Who
gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become
hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is
frozen?"
I believe the ice comes from Ann Coulter's womb. I bet she's frigid as a true Scot on a chilly night.

I also believe phenomena involving the change of state of water are caused simply by changing local temperatures. This really isn't difficult to understand, let alone replicate. Anyone reading this is sure to have a fridge.


Quote:
Job 38:31-32: "Can you bind the beautiful
Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the
constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its
cubs?"
Firstly, Orion doesn't have "cords," dumbass. It's an otherwise unrelated group of colossal fusion-powered balls of gas and intersellar dust that, from our perspective, form a pattern named by people who christians would consider heathens.

We don't need to bring the constellations out ourselves, because we know that we don't actually have to do anything for them to appear, other than wait a bit for the Earth's orbit to progress around the sun.


Quote:
Job 38:33: "Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up dominion over the earth?"
Laws of the heavens? Ohhh yeeeaaaah. Maybe not all of them yet, but, it would seem, a damn sight more than god here.

Dominion over the Earth? Ohhhhhh yeeeeeeaaaah. Short of wiping ourselves out with war or overpopulation or pollution, we're in control of a large and growing number of aspects of our world, and as we grow ever more powerful, the chances of us being out-competed grow ever slimmer.


Quote:
Job 38:34 "Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?"
Absolutely. Simply push over one of Iron Maiden's biggest speakers at the bottom of an empty swimming pool and plug in a mic.

Should we so wish, we could happily cover ourselves in as much of a flood as we want, by blowing up a big dam. This is another one of those things I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to do - it's far better to control water so that it doesn't cover us as a flood - which, what do you know, we do too.



Quote:
Job 38:35: "Do you send the lightning bolts on
their way? Do they report to you, `Here we
are'?"
No, because we know that they naturally follow the path of least resistance without any instruction whatsoever.

As for sending them on their way, we can far outdo that: we can control lightning with such finesse that we can make it beat world chess champions, calculate the laws of the universe and wipe the floor with us in Halo 3.


Quote:
Job 38:36: "Who endowed the heart with wisdom or
gave understanding to the mind?"
It certainly wasn't god, because wisdom doesn't come from the heart - it comes from higher brain function.


Quote:
Job 38:37-38: "Who has the wisdom to count the
clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the
dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick
together?"
We now have wisdom not to try something so stupid as counting clouds, partly because they're an intransient phenomenon and counting them would have no meaning, but mostly because clouds are already well-understood and we have more important things to worry about.

As for creating our own rain, we can make a good go of that too, thanks to cloud-seeding. Not that it is necessary in many cases, thanks to our prowess with irrigation technology.


Quote:
Job 38:39-40: "Do you hunt the prey for the
lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in
their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the
raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of
food?"
Could any lioness read this, I'm sure she would be quite pissed off at the slight on her highly-evolved hunting skills. And could and raven read this, I'm sure it would slap its wing to its forehead and say "Well, all the dead animals lying around, DERRR."

And so it ends. In conclusion, humans are considerably better at playing god than god.
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Old 01-24-2008, 07:18 PM   #6
whoneedscience
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Kilik?
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:15 PM   #7
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not quite, not quite....but close.....

One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected....That they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly.
H. L. Mencken
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Old 01-25-2008, 12:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Facehammer wrote View Post
Wait, there's more. Joy!

Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain? WE DO!



Who creates life from a lifeless desert? WE DO!




Nobody, as has been understood for a considerable amount of time. They're both just condensation.

God claiming direct responsibility for this is almost as ridiculous as that chick tract that claims protons in an atomic nucleus don't fly apart because Jesus holds them together.


I believe the ice comes from Ann Coulter's womb. I bet she's frigid as a true Scot on a chilly night.

I also believe phenomena involving the change of state of water are caused simply by changing local temperatures. This really isn't difficult to understand, let alone replicate. Anyone reading this is sure to have a fridge.


Firstly, Orion doesn't have "cords," dumbass. It's an otherwise unrelated group of colossal fusion-powered balls of gas and intersellar dust that, from our perspective, form a pattern named by people who christians would consider heathens.

We don't need to bring the constellations out ourselves, because we know that we don't actually have to do anything for them to appear, other than wait a bit for the Earth's orbit to progress around the sun.


Laws of the heavens? Ohhh yeeeaaaah. Maybe not all of them yet, but, it would seem, a damn sight more than god here.

Dominion over the Earth? Ohhhhhh yeeeeeeaaaah. Short of wiping ourselves out with war or overpopulation or pollution, we're in control of a large and growing number of aspects of our world, and as we grow ever more powerful, the chances of us being out-competed grow ever slimmer.


Absolutely. Simply push over one of Iron Maiden's biggest speakers at the bottom of an empty swimming pool and plug in a mic.

Should we so wish, we could happily cover ourselves in as much of a flood as we want, by blowing up a big dam. This is another one of those things I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to do - it's far better to control water so that it doesn't cover us as a flood - which, what do you know, we do too.



No, because we know that they naturally follow the path of least resistance without any instruction whatsoever.

As for sending them on their way, we can far outdo that: we can control lightning with such finesse that we can make it beat world chess champions, calculate the laws of the universe and wipe the floor with us in Halo 3.


It certainly wasn't god, because wisdom doesn't come from the heart - it comes from higher brain function.


We now have wisdom not to try something so stupid as counting clouds, partly because they're an intransient phenomenon and counting them would have no meaning, but mostly because clouds are already well-understood and we have more important things to worry about.

As for creating our own rain, we can make a good go of that too, thanks to cloud-seeding. Not that it is necessary in many cases, thanks to our prowess with irrigation technology.


Could any lioness read this, I'm sure she would be quite pissed off at the slight on her highly-evolved hunting skills. And could and raven read this, I'm sure it would slap its wing to its forehead and say "Well, all the dead animals lying around, DERRR."

And so it ends. In conclusion, humans are considerably better at playing god than god.
If you were my Sunday school teacher, I would SO pay attention!

The Leprechauns do not forbid the drawing of Their images, as long as we color within the lines. ~ Ghoulslime H Christ, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Masturbator
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Old 01-25-2008, 10:17 AM   #9
calpurnpiso
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ghoulslime wrote View Post
If you were my Sunday school teacher, I would SO pay attention!
Yup, and we also give human sacrifices when controlling the river gods with Dams. More than 100 humans sacrificed themselves in the Hoover Dam at the urging of the god of chance....

Christians and other folks infected with delusional beliefs think and reason like schizophrenics or temporal lobe epileptics. Their morality is dictated by an invisible friend called Jesus.
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Old 01-26-2008, 04:09 PM   #10
Facehammer
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Kilik?


Unfortunately not, because I don't believe a highly advanced race of aliens came to ancient Egypt and, in spite of their vastly superior technology, used slave labour to build colossal stone structures designed to keep their razor blades sharp and their hamburgers fresh.

Also, that will probably be a one-off, and I won't ever type that much again until I have to do another big assignment for my degree.
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