Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

man-made cell

the.believer's picture

 Back to the concept of algorithm where we've decided that the well-defined process is "mindless" but the outcome is more complex and random, I thought of a 2010 scientific achievement. Scientists were able to create a synthetic genome, insert it into a host bacterial cell with its genome removed (aka blank slate). This cell grew and reproduced under this man-made algorithm. The scientists are planning to engineer the cells to create biofuels, vaccines and drugs more efficiently than current methods. Based on our class discussions and given our limited knowledge of how this man-made algorithm actually creates this product/output... if we can program artificial life and create a genome that directs the thriving cells into producing a specific outcome, will we see randomness in this outcome? Will the product surprise us?


Based on an article:


Sarah Schnellbacher's picture

Controlled system

I think this goes back to the concept of controlled systems we talked about in class when discussing Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". Darwin had said that there was reason behind the chance in natural selection but our ignorance prevents us from seeing the reason. In this synthetic system there should be little chance as the scientists have removed as many variables as possible and are working with prokaryotic cells. Were this carried out on a eukaryotic cell, the increase in variables might produce some interesting chaotic results.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
1 + 8 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.