In Animals, Current reading, Games, Irish Mist, Music, notes, Poetry, Revision on November 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

“Culture too expensive? Try ignorance,” the poster reads. How about selective ignorance, does that work too?

“Synthetic Biology based on standard parts,” the website announces. In Boston, this year’s iGEM competition is over. Some two thousand five hundred students showed up for the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition.

Genetically engineered … The notion takes off in the nineties: if you consider living cells the way you would electronic systems, you can start using the component parts as stable and predictable biological circuits (from what I understand of words attributed to Tom Knight,  MIT’s artificial intelligence man.

Hey. Great. A cure of Alzheimer’s. A pollution-chomping bacterium. A… a… escherichia coli bacterium that secretes an elastic protein. Oh yeah? Yeah. What for? I dunno, we’ll see. As The Man told the competing students: “Some day, you’ll buy your private jet!”

The Man? John Craig Venter, American biochemist, geneticist and entrepreneur. All right. Can’t stop progress and if somebody can modify genetic material to the extent of creating a partially synthetic species, no one’s going to stop it from happening by saying oh lordy-lordy, is this wise? Is it right? Is it ethical?

I look at the article in the Nouvel Observateur. At all the young, eager and smiling faces photographed in Boston during the competition. Read through my notes. Watch the cold, and relentless drizzle at my window. A few hits from the space heater, now and then. Back to fiction.

Poetry, anyone? History? Philosophy? Guess not.

May the Force be with you and your bouncing ball bacteria, Purple Team. (Did you stand up with all the others when the man from FBI called on you all to swear you would help your respective governments fight against “the bad guys?” What happens if you must choose between the oath and the private jet? What happens if you discover one of the bad guys is kind of OK, really, once you get to know him. Hey, nobody’s perfect, plus that bacteria put together by the Better Smells for Better Bodies team – You have to admit victory over halitosis is worth )

A bit of music, Lucie?

Thanks. Don’t mind if I do.


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