Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oil & artificial life

Well, the oil feed is live. Well, it was for 43 seconds. Shortly after the feed went live on a gov't web site (since BP apparently didn't want to host it), the site was overwhelmed by web traffic and broke. The live feed is still not working at the time I'm writing this.

However, BP has said, "We're capturing 5,000 barrels of oil per day through the suction tube." And the video shows (well, showed, for 43 seconds), significant remaining leaking oil around the siphon tube. Guess they were wrong about the estimated flow, eh?

On an initially unrelated note, scientists have 'invented' artificial life. Well, not really - they've synthetically duplicated DNA from a bacterium, implanted that synthetic DNA into a different host cell, and the host cell "decoded and became" the same as a cell that contained naturally occurring DNA that they duplicated synthetically (it further reproduced itself with the synthetic DNA strain). The next goal is to design bacterial cells that will perform various functions: produce medicines or fuels or absorb greenhouse gases ('cause we really need to freeze our planet to death by removing all the greenhouse gases). Awesome, huh? Self-replicating, fuel-producing, greenhouse-gas-eating, artificial bacteria. Kudzu gone wild, but at a cellular level! (This reminds me of the scientists that figured out how to create life; they went to God and said, "God, we don't need you anymore; we can create life ourselves!" God said, "Oh, really? Show me." So the scientists started to gather together some dirt, and God said, "No, no, no, wait, go get your own dirt...")

Why "initially unrelated"? Maybe they'll design bacteria that will alleviate the need to drill. Maybe they'll design bacteria that can eat away spilled oil without having to absorb the oxygen in the water. Maybe they'll design bacteria that will turn corn into pixie stix! Now THAT would be awesome! Go science!
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