A Race to Sequence the First Extraterrestrial Genome?
Two of nation's highest authorities on genetics say they now plan to search for and sequence DNA from the surface of Mars. Others doubt whether we have the technology.
What's the Latest Development?
Two of the country's highest authorities on genetics say they are now determined to find and sequence alien DNA on the surface of Mars. "In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from the planet. Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to equip his company's 'Personal Genome Machine' for a similar task."
What's the Big Idea?
Some in the scientific community are skeptical of the idea because our machines have been designed to sequence DNA as we understand it on Earth. Sequencing genes on Mars will only work if the DNA there "is exactly the same in its fundamental structure as on Earth," says Steven Benner, president of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Florida. He says he's skeptical that will be the case: 'It is very unlikely that Terran DNA is the only structure able to support Darwinian evolution.'" For his part, Venter says Martian organisms could be reconstructed in Earthly laboratories.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.