I will admit that I was taken in by the dramatic descriptions of the Ventner Insitute’s recent claims of having made “synthetic life”, but after reading the paper and then talking to people that are smarter than me (thanks Donna, Andrew) I have to say: this is a load of crap. Impressive crap, but still crap. I would love nothing better than to bore you with details of why (1) there is nothing synthetic about what they made and (2) they did not “reboot” anything. Perhaps if enough of you hold your lighters in the night air I will. For now, I think Jim Collins at Boston University says it best:
Frankly, scientists do not know enough about biology to create life. Although the Human Genome Project has expanded the parts list for cells, there is no instruction manual for putting them together to produce a living cell. It is like trying to assemble an operational jumbo jet from its parts list — impossible. Although some of us in synthetic biology may have delusions of grandeur, our goals are much more modest.