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20 Million Genes: Design Components of Future Life Forms

Slided1_2 "We have 20 million genes which I call the design components of the future. We are limited here only by our imagination."

Craig Venter, Geneticist

Craig Venter has been making headlines over the past years for a wide variety of genetic “miracles”. The controversial scientist has made a lot of wild claims, but surprisingly most of them have panned out. But his latest “crazy” idea might just top them all. Venter recently disclosed that he is creating a life form that feeds on climate-ruining carbon dioxide to produce fuel. It’s hard to imagine a better win-win, and he says he’s very close to making the dream a reality. Such a feat could be world changing.

"We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy," Venter told Al Gore, Google co-founder Larry Page and other attendees at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference held recently in Monterey, California. "We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock."

Venter says that there is virtually no limit to the kind of applications that designer organisms can be custom created for.

"We have 20 million genes which I call the design components of the future," Venter said. "We are limited here only by our imagination."

Biofuel, such as ethanol, are third-generation alternatives to oil, but it takes nearly as much fuel to produce ethanol as is created, not to mention a plethora of other environmentally unfriendly issues related to corn—it is hotly contested whether or not the US should be putting money into ethanol. However, what is being called fourth-generation fuels—life forms that feed on CO2 and give off usable fuel such as methane gas as “waste” product—should prove to be a vastly more excellent alternative for a variety of reasons, including cost, and vastly superior environmental friendliness.

Venter’s team is using synthetic chromosomes to modify organisms that already naturally produce octane. The scientists will be doing some tweaking to coax the organisms to eat more CO2 and excrete more copius amounts of fuel. 

"If they could produce things on the scale we need, this would be a methane planet," Venter said. "The scale is what is critical; which is why we need to genetically design them."

Venter said he is also working on organisms that make vaccines for the flu and other illnesses. As for the fear that mutant organisms will rise up and kill most of humanity while transforming the rest into vampire zombies as in the blockbuster I Am Legend (based on Richard Mathesons's brilliant novel)…well, we’ll just have to see about that. Venter says that all modified organisms will be imbedded with "suicide genes", so that if they start to run amok, they can be triggered to kill themselves.

"We will see an exponential change in the pace of the sophistication of organisms and what they can do," Venter said. "We are a ways away from designing people. Our goal is just to make sure they survive long enough to do that."

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

Related Galaxy posts:

Microbesoft: The Controversy Over Patenting Synthetic Life
"The Ilulissat Manifesto" -Creating Artifical Life
“Playing God” -Scientists in Final Stage of Creating Man-made Life
Craig Venter to Announce 1st Artificially Created Life
Synthetic Life: Two Down, One to Go
The Immortalist: Aubrey De Grey on Aging -Can He Keep Us Young

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This is stupid, it would lead to an ice age.
CO2 is needed to sustain life on earth. Without it, we would return to Snowball Earth. It happened 3 times in the history of our planet.

This is exactly the sort of thing we should be pumping our tax dollars into,
Not propping up a doomed economic system of debt and gambling. But
We would need assurances that some ' green goo' type accident wouldn't happen

Anything in which Al (Sore) Gore is involved or given his two cents word will be a totally "convenient lie",
In my opinion he is A PHONY, FAKE AND FRAUD..

"Special" comments from "special" morons! No matter what Al Gore is, and I strongly disagree with you, the supply of "cheap" oil on this planet is coming rapidly to an end. We must preserve the remaining, very expensive oil for defense purposes, in a hateful and changing world! As far as provoking and Ice age, just think what happens when the new miracle fuel is burnt! The CO2 we desperately need to balance the atmosphere, is miraculously returned to be used another day! The scientists are on the edge of breaking the continuous pumping of C)2 into the atmosphere by Americans primarily and we must support them! We can easily rep[lace the oil energy we buy from OPEC and the Saudis, relieving ourselves of their "oil for mercenaries U.S. forces" in the middle east, and removing their parasitic load on our economy! We have the science and technology to do so NOW! Just think, no more oil bills, no money going out of our economy, and new job opportunities for Americans here at home, not in the Arab deserts, carrying guns, here at home, with families and money to live moral decent and humane lives! Building schools, churches Malls, villages, service centers, medical centers, hospitals, - all one big American family, not obliged as part of the price for oil to go away and pervert their natural American right to a normal "persuit of happyness" lifestyle! Wind and solar power can contribute to this happy end also! We can grow algae based safe and healthy bio-diesel right here at home! See: http://www.itsgood4.us/biodiesel.htm
Algae can produce oil. Estimates using today's production techniques are 400 gallons per acre. The University of New Hampshire is exploring ways of forced production of algae for biodiesel that is yielding 10,000 gallons per acre and uses salty water. Their calculations show that a tiny area of the Sonoran desert in New Mexico (about 9%) is enough area to produce all of the transportation fuel in the U.S. using their production techniques. Already, one company is experimenting with algae production stations at a power plant to capture the CO2 from the exhaust and use it to make algae for biodiesel.
We can use Wind power, See:There is as much wind power potential (900,000 megawatts) off our coasts as the current capacity of all power plants in the United States combined, according to a new report entitled, A Framework for Offshore Wind Energy Development in the United States, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and General Electric. http://www.capecodtoday.com/news246.htm01/01/09
And as for Solar, see:
And remember:
If the U.S. had chosen to be a moral people, and leaving Iraqi oil alone, and following Al Gore, decided to develop the South Western deserts, with the technology of the times - solar/thermal-molten sodium - electricity installations, for the same amount of money as that war cost, ($650 Billion), today, we would be tapping into the largest, renewable, sustainable, PERPETUAL, energy source the world has ever known. It would have paid every energy bill in the U.S.A. for maintenance fees only - FOREVER! It would be equivalent to an oil field that can NEVER run dry! Low cost electric power, and storeable hydrogen gasoline replacement from the electricity, for all!
After the millions of murders, and $650 billions of dollars, borrowed from our children’s futures and pissed away, with thousands of our own and others maimed and disfigured for life, millions of families utterly destroyed, ours and theirs, we are no closer to Iraqi oil production than the Iraqis are!
The next time you hear a blithering idiot spoiled brat, drunken, drug addicted, sociopath, rich Arabic saber dancing daddie’s boy oilman, stand at a microphone and threaten YOUR safety with someone ELSE’S weapons, remember what you lost America, remember, and weep! (also see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan)http://www.technologyreview.com/microsites/spain/solar/p6.aspx

Why do we put up with the current situation? Please educate your friends and neighbors to the true facts of American life, and help rid our country for Shysters, oil barons, shylocks, and parasites!

Thanks Uncle B, for the brilliant retort.

I think we're ready for the third horseman.

When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying. "Come" I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." Rev 6:5-6 NASB

"Venter recently disclosed that he is creating a life form that feeds on climate-ruining carbon dioxide to produce fuel."

It's called a tree.

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