A number of life-support machines are connected to each other, circulating liquids and air in attempt to mimic a biological structure. The Immortal investigates human dependence on electronics, the desire to make machines replicate organisms and our perception of anatomy as reflected by biomedical engineering.
Researchers moved a step closer to creating new life forms in the laboratory after they demonstrated an artificial genetic material called XNA can be replicated in the test tube much like real DNA. X, which in this case stands for “xeno” indicates the replacement of the helical backbone of the new molecule.
Scientists at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the U.K. demonstrated for the first time a way to extract information from the artificial genetic molecules and mass produce copies of them.
The research, published today in the journal Science, shows that DNA and its sister molecule RNA may not be the only chemical structures upon which a living unit can be based.
“Life is based on this amazing ability of DNA and RNA to store and propagate information,” saidPhilipp Holliger, a Medical Research Council molecular biologist and senior author on the study. “We have shown that the basic functions of DNA and RNA can be recapitulated” with new artificial molecules.
Vitor Pinheiro and colleagues from Philipp’s group used sophisticated protein engineering techniques to adapt enzymes, that in nature synthesise and replicate DNA, to establish six new genetic systems based on synthetic nucleic acids. These have the same bases as DNA but the ribose linkage between them is replaced by quite different structures.
In doing this they showed that there is no functional imperative limiting genetic information storage to RNA and DNA. Therefore, the discovery has implications for the understanding of life on Earth. As other informational molecules can be robustly synthesised and replicated, the emergence of life on Earth is likely to reflect the abundance of RNA (and DNA) precursors in early Earth.
The scientists invented a lab method for making copies of synthetic DNA. They also developed a way to make XNA fragments that evolve with desired properties.
Case Western Reserve University biochemist Erik Andrulis has just published a paper about a discovery that goes way beyond the RNA he usually researches. He claims he’s discovered the secret to life itself – and it all has to do with energy-spirit things he calls gyres.
His 105-page paper is called “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life,” and you can download the whole thing for free from the peer-reviewed journal Life.
The problem is that even sympathetic readers found the paper incomprehensible and (worse for scientists) untestable.
“Technology is stitching together all the minds of the living, wrapping the planet in a vibrating cloak of electronic nerves, entire continents of machines conversing with one another, the whole aggregation watching itself through a million cameras posted daily. How can this not stir that organ in us that is sensitive to something larger than ourselves?”
About 12 km northwest of the Iranian city of Persepolis, lies a rocky hill. Engraved on the almost perpendicular façade of the hill, at a considerable height, are rich ornamented reliefs dedicated to the Achaemenid kings belonging to the early first millennium BCE. This area is known as Naqsh-e Rustam, and also as Necropolis.
Naqsh-i Rustam (the Throne of Rustam, in English) was considered a sacred mountain range in the Elamite periods. The façades of Naqsh-i Rustam became the burial site for four Achaemenid rulers and their families in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, as well as a major center of sacrifice and celebration during the Sasanian period between the third and seventh century CE
The tombs are known locally as the ‘Persian crosses’, after the shape of the facades of the tombs. The entrance to each tomb is at the center of each cross, which opens onto to a small chamber, where the king lay in a sarcophagus. The horizontal beam of each of the tomb’s facades is believed to be a replica of the entrance of the palace at Persepolis.
“What realities are you enforcing with your language?”