abiogenesis contact list

Discussions on topics related to biochemistry and molecular biology, functional genomics, etc.

abiogenesis contact list

Postby hyksos on April 27th, 2016, 5:26 pm 

Some regulars on this forum are claiming to know how to build a lifeform from raw material under laboratory conditions. A cursory reading of their posts seems to show complete confidence in their simple recipes.

Meanwhile out in the real world, nobody knows how to do this. In some cases teams of international scientists were brought to Los Alamos to try to accomplish it, with partial funding provided by DARPA. Those teams failed. Luckily, we have some geniuses on this forum who appear to know exactly how to do this. I would invite these local geniuses to reveal their secrets to the scientific community by contacting the people in this list below.

____
Steen Rasmussen
Head of the Center for Fundamental Living Technology.
Director of Research.
Department for Physics and Chemistry at University of Southern Denmark.
Campusvej 55
5230 Odense M
Denmark
steen@sdu.dk
http://www.sdu.dk/flint
Phone: 65502507


____
Jack W. Szostak, PhD
Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology or Medicine (2009).
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Alex. A. Rich Distinguished Investigator, Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
szostak@molbio.mgh.harvard.edu


____
JEREMY L. ENGLAND
Thomas D. & Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics
Physics of Living Systems Group at MIT
EMAIL: jengland@mit.edu
PHONE: (617) 253-0063
OFFICE: NE46-607


____
Hamilton O. Smith, M.D.
Scientific Director Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy
Distinguished Professor
J. Craig Venter Institute
hsmith@jcvi.org

____
Clyde A. Hutchison III, Ph.D.
Synthetic Biology Group at J. Craig Venter Institute
Distinguished Professor
Member of the National Academy of Sciences
chutchis@jcvi.org


_____
John Glass, Ph.D.
Professor
JCVI Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy Group.
jglass@jcvi.org
Last edited by hyksos on April 27th, 2016, 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby mtbturtle on April 27th, 2016, 6:07 pm 

hyksos » Wed Apr 27, 2016 4:26 pm wrote:Some regulars on this forum are claiming to know how to build a lifeform from raw material under laboratory conditions.


oh they have not. You are tiresome and annoying.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby hyksos on April 27th, 2016, 6:22 pm 

oh they have not. You are tiresome and annoying.

We absolutely have people on this forum who claim we have a complete and exhaustive description of living matter in terms of parameters of physics. My repeated attempts to tell them that science does not have such a thing, only lead to them accusing me of some halfcocked brand of vitalism.

If anyone on this forum believes they possess such a description, they should present it. ...shouldn't they?
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby mtbturtle on April 27th, 2016, 6:26 pm 

hyksos » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:22 pm wrote:
oh they have not. You are tiresome and annoying.

We absolutely have people on this forum who claim we have a complete and exhaustive description of living matter in terms of parameters of physics. My repeated attempts to tell them that science does not have such a thing, only lead to them accusing me of some halfcocked brand of vitalism.

If anyone on this forum believes they possess such a description, they should present it. ...shouldn't they?


Don't Feed the Trolls!
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby hyksos on April 27th, 2016, 6:34 pm 

I hope that someday science will gain this knowledge, and give humanity the power to build biotechnologies that benefit from that understanding. I hope to see it. I hope this happens in my lifetime. I welcome that knowledge and I welcome that technology.

We cannot get there without an honest, adult, responsible admittance of our current ignorance of these systems. Stage one is admitting what you don't know -- like a grown adult. Once we clearly admit what we don't know , thenwe can better take steps to answer it. We can more intelligently attack the problem.

mtburtle. These people are not presenting material. I have posted entire (very nicely-formatted) READING LISTS for the curious to dig into these topics and their derivative subjects and study them for weeks if they so desire.

The people giving me grief here have presented little or next to nothing, other than very short posts of denial and personal attacks framed as "responsibilities to respond to" concocted challenges. They certainly are not posting entire reading lists.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby mtbturtle on April 27th, 2016, 7:00 pm 

hykos,

I simply do not believe your accounting of events or views of others. You aren't being honest. As such discussion with you is pointless.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby Positor on April 27th, 2016, 8:13 pm 

hyksos » April 27th, 2016, 10:26 pm wrote:Some regulars on this forum are claiming to know how to build a lifeform from raw material under laboratory conditions.

I don't think so...

Eclogite wrote:hyskos mistakenly believes that our failure to create a lifeform in the laboratory is evidence that we do not understand the physics of life. What seems more likely is that this failure represents an incomplete knowledge of the environment, prebiotic chemistry and biochemistry responsible for life.

neuro wrote:Understanding the physics of a process means to be able to identify the forces that drive it. That we may then be able to reproduce it or not, is quite irrelevant.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby hyksos on April 27th, 2016, 10:00 pm 

Positor,

There are entire labs at Harvard, MIT, and other institutes who are quite dedicated to creating an artificial lifeform. And they intend to engineer this thing by means of applying the PRINCIPLES underlying life. neuro and ecoglite would be adopting the position that the entire research project undergone by these labs is "quite irrelevant".

I don't think any of the researchers I listed would agree with that.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby Eclogite on April 28th, 2016, 9:51 am 

I would appreciate hyksos if you stopped attempting to discern what I think, or what I believe. Your track record in this regard is poor and you are in danger of casting yourself in a bad light.

I have not explored to any meaningful extent the efforts of the labs you refer to. My understanding is that the work they are engaged in would fit into one of two categories.

1) They seek to make changes, through techniques such as gene splicing, to create a wholly unique organism.
2) They seek to create, by assembling de novo, a DNA strand that would generate an organism.

Two further points. I do not know if option 2 even lies within the capabilities of current techniques. Secondly, there may be other approaches being explored that I am unaware of. You appear to have some knowledge of this work, so perhaps you will clarify all of these points for me.

However, if 1) or 2) are the methods being employed then these, as I suggested, only require a knowledge of the biochemistry of the molecules of life, not the physics. So, while the physics determines the chemistry, it is the chemistry that is relevant.

If you disagree you need to do so by attacking the facts, not by making snide comments about fellow members.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby BioWizard on May 11th, 2016, 9:17 am 

I just noticed this thread, and don't have any knowledge about the background discussion from whence it came (since it appears to be a split thread). In any case, didn't Craig Venter's team come really close to doing what's proposed here?
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby vivian maxine on May 11th, 2016, 12:38 pm 

I have read this thread before and just read it through again, both times with just one word in mind: "Why?" Seriously, why does anyone want to create life in a laboratory? What desire is really behind this urge?

Maybe this comes close to answering me: neuro wrote:
Understanding the physics of a process means to be able to identify the forces that drive it. That we may then be able to reproduce it or not, is quite irrelevant.

Identifying the force that drives the system makes sense. If creating life in a lab is the only way to get there, I understand wanting to do so. However, I suspect there is more to why "we" want to do so.

Does someone want to tell me why - if you had the skill and the money - you'd dedicate your life to attempting to create life. Especially since there seems to already be a very successful method that has worked for millennia.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby BioWizard on May 11th, 2016, 1:44 pm 

For one, to demonstrate once and for all that it is doable, with all the philosophical corrections that that would warrant. But I agree with neuro that doing that doesn't necessarily address the question about complete understanding, and could very well be irrelevant to it.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby vivian maxine on May 11th, 2016, 2:01 pm 

BioWizard » May 11th, 2016, 12:44 pm wrote:For one, to demonstrate once and for all that it is doable, with all the philosophical corrections that that would warrant. But I agree with neuro that doing that doesn't necessarily address the question about complete understanding, and could very well be irrelevant to it.

'

That is pretty much my thought. To prove it is doable. To prove we can. There is usually nothing wrong with that idea but, in this case, I keep seeing where it could go that we night not want it to go.

Just thinking. Not trying to be negative. Just thinking it through. Whether someone should do it depends on why they want to do it and what they would do with the results. Once it gets rolling, we can't stop it. Wasn't there a lot of talk about this some years ago - whether or not it should be tried?
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby BioWizard on May 11th, 2016, 2:30 pm 

No, not to prove WE can. To prove IT is doable. You're emphasizing the wrong part and seem to be considering this to be mostly an ego trip, when it is, in fact, a >feasibility< study. Feasibility studies are important because they teach us about the alignment between model and reality. The fact that they can feed our ego, here and there, is a different story - and certainly not the only or the most important story from the perspective of a researcher/philosopher.
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby BioWizard on May 11th, 2016, 2:34 pm 

How else would you falsify the claim that >insert your favorite version of that magical essence< needs to be somehow added in before a living cell can emerge from nonliving matter?
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby BioWizard on May 11th, 2016, 3:02 pm 

And by the way Viv...

vivian maxine » 11 May 2016 01:01 pm wrote:Once it gets rolling, we can't stop it. Wasn't there a lot of talk about this some years ago - whether or not it should be tried?


If you're worrying about potential abuse, then let me tell you that using current technologies and biological engineering methods is a much easier route. It's a lot easier to build on what evolution has spent billions of years optimizing than to start from scratch. Being able to boot up a cell from "scratch" doesn't give us any bioengineering advantage whatsoever, nor does it in any way improve anybody's ability to use/abuse biology. Its only utility is literally answering the question of whether some "magical essence", not present in the starting material, is required to initiate a living cell (and would serve as a great trollbuster for decades to come).
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby vivian maxine on May 14th, 2016, 8:15 am 

BioWizard, in response to your welcome post, which was well-said, I have no answer except 'thank you'. For my part, I am not trying to argue my opinion. As of right now, I have no opinion pro or con. I am questioning. I suspect if it can be done, it will be done, meaning is there really any answer to "should it be done?" For that reason I was glad to see this article this morning. It is a far better response than I could give.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/14/scien ... 71439&_r=0

"Scientists Talk Privately About Creating a Synthetic Human Genome" (New York Times 14 May 2016 Today's Headlines)
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby neuro on May 14th, 2016, 2:46 pm 

vivian,
I think Bio was underscoring an important point.

There are some scientific researches that are aimed at "proving a principle". This means to obtain experimental evidence that something CAN be done. It is an important aspect of many fields of research (proof of principle often is the starting point to initiate any serious research and development work on a possible new drug or medical device).

For example, important proofs of principles were obtained on the possibility of controlling a robot through a multielectrode plate implanted on the cortex and connected to a computer before starting to experiment this on patients with spinal lesions that are totally paralysed but have a perfectly functioning brain (an article on the first successes in this approach appeared in Nature rather recently).

To actually BUILD life from scratch would not have much of a meaning (we could hardly do better than an amoeba already is), except as a proof of principle. Which would in itself have an enormous scientific and philosophical relevance.

Most of what scientist currently do, however, belongs to a collateral field, which in not properly "abiogenesis": Venter is trying and building in the laboratory a living organism by "putting together" the pieces, i.e. inserting artificial DNA in systems that make use of existing cell structures. The cell environment is not a passive transcriber of DNA, so even if the DNA is fully synthetic, this is not "abiogenesis".

Similarly, playing with the human genome has nothing to do with abiogenesis.

A metaphor.
The situation is more or less like this: a number of people has devised credible theories that suggest that a mechanical machine should in principle be able to perform some sort of computation. Blaise Pascal has not been born yet, and therefore he still has to give the proof of principle that a machine can perform mathematical operations. In the mean time, a good programmer - who has travelled back from the 21st century, his name is Venter, he has a number of wonderful programs, they have proven to work perfectly on his computer, and he could show you how wonderfully they work, if he only had a computer. But Pascal, and Touring and all the other guys still have to be coming around...
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby BioWizard on May 14th, 2016, 2:58 pm 

Vivian, my first thought is that the proposed study in your headline is a lot more relevant to genetic engineering than abiogenesis, and so is for the most part irrelevant to what I talked about. Neuro's post was a very good elaboration on the point I tried to convey. But maybe that's just not what you're interested in discussing/asking about here :] (and that's perfectly fine)
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby hyksos on May 22nd, 2016, 6:06 pm 

I have read this thread before and just read it through again, both times with just one word in mind: "Why?" Seriously, why does anyone want to create life in a laboratory? What desire is really behind this urge?

Creating life in a laboratory is a first step towards programming matter -- in the way we now program computers. The technology this would give us in the future is not understood. The basic gist of this is about building molecular machines that can control matter.

We could cure cancer.

We could cure genetic diseases.

We could manipulate the genes in a fully-grown living organism.

We could manipulate our own genes during our own lifetime. (Without getting into an ethics debate about designer babies ), in the short term you could change your eye color. You and I might not be interested in that, but some Asian women would probably do it.

If we could program matter, Heck -- we could turn rainwater into gasoline. Turn sand into food. (I'm being facetious for dramatic effect, but you get my point).
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Re: abiogenesis contact list

Postby Eclogite on May 23rd, 2016, 3:39 am 

vivian maxine » Wed May 11, 2016 4:38 pm wrote:I have read this thread before and just read it through again, both times with just one word in mind: "Why?" Seriously, why does anyone want to create life in a laboratory? What desire is really behind this urge?
There have been several responses to your question. I think one response is missing. IT would provide my motivation for the attempt.

If we can create life in the laboratory then we can better assess how life may have originated on Earth and can then be better placed to estimate how common or rare it is throughout the universe.
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