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Surprising Science

Craig Venter Defines Life, Digitizes Our Biology

Delivering a lecture at Trinity College, Dublin, the American geneticist spoke on how modern science has changed the parameters of life and how we are close to creating synthetic life. 

What’s the Latest Development?

In a lecture recently delivered at Trinity College, Dublin, American geneticist Craig Venter attempted to define life according to the parameters set by modern science, including his own attempts to create a synthetic form of life. While it may sound like science fiction, the genetic code which we know is essential to life’s ability to grow and procreate is very similar to digital computing code. “So when we see what’s a genome we’re converting what we call the analogue DNA code into digital code. I’ve described that as digitizing biology,” said Venter. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The ability to digitize organic genetic code has some stunning applications. “We now have the ability to transmit life at the speed of light just sending it through the computer,” said Venter. “When we colonize Mars we could [transmit] a new organism to the colony on Mars. We’re actually building what I call a digital biological converter, much in the same way a phone converts digital information into sound. You could email somebody a cell to make energy, to make food.” So does uploading your genetic code mean you become immortal? If you want to be immortal, Venter advises, do something meaningful with your life. 

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