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Biotech Science

Evolution Machine Accelerates Genetic Engineering 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the dino-size-bacon-please dept.
chrb writes "New Scientist has an article about the Evolution Machine — a device which can accelerate directed artificial evolution to discover desirable DNA changes in days rather than years. One of the aims of these researchers is to create an organism that is genetically immune to all viruses."
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Evolution Machine Accelerates Genetic Engineering

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:06AM (#36641852)

    Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

    ( I for one welcome our new Dalek overlords )

    • by Weezul (52464)

      Marvel's High Evolutionary [wikipedia.org]

      • As opposed to DC's high and evolutionary [blogspot.com] Snowflame [cracked.com].
      • by fferreres (525414)

        Strange that you say that, for some website say he was a Satanist.

        Ferguson is accurate when she reports that the Fabian Society's H.G. Wells (World War I boss of British intelligence) is a key figure of the Aquarian Conspiracy. Also key are Wells' ally, Bertrand Russell, and such Russell cronies as Robert M. Hutchins (Chicago University, Ford Foundation, Fund for the Republic, Aspen Institute, and the project).

        Both Margaret Mead and her husband Gregory Bateson were close collaborators of Russell and Hutchins from no later than 1938. The brothers, Aldous (Hollywood) and Julian (UNO) Huxley were collaborators of H. G. Wells, and were recruited to Crowley's Satanist cult during the late 1920s.

        http://www.rense.com/general61/satanism.htm [rense.com]

        Not that I care much, but found it funny.

      • Kahnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!! Kahnnnnnnnnn!! Kahn mm!

    • Yeah, this seriously sounds like the beginning of any number of Doctor Who stories. "Genesis of the Daleks", "The Leisure Hive", and others, I'm sure.

      I, for one, rather than welcoming our new Dalek overlords, shall take up arms on the side of the Thals.

  • One of the aims of these researchers is to create an organism that is genetically immune to all viruses.

    Someone needs to introduce these researchers to Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

    • by gwstuff (2067112)
      How do Gödel's incompleteness theorems apply to creating an organism immune to all viruses? (Thanks in advance for the answer).
      • by synaptik (125) *

        To plagiarize from Douglas Hofstadter: Consider a record player X (DNA) that vibrates into dust if it is ever used to play the record, "I Cannot Be Played on Record Player X" (virus). Now build a new record player Y, that is immune to record X. It is now possible to devise some other record, "I Cannot Be Played on Record Player Y", that will have a similar effect on the new record player.

        • by artor3 (1344997)
          How does that follow? Just because there existed a record that could destroy X, you can't conclude that there will exist one that can destroy Y.
          • by HiThere (15173)

            Yes, you can. (Metaphorically speaking.) To read an extended explanation, read "Gödel, Escher, Bach, An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas Hofstadter, where the metaphor is extensively developed and justified.

        • by vbraga (228124)

          Call me dumb but I still don't follow. If you don't mind, can you dumb it down again? :)

      • by zill (1690130)

        What if that organism is a virus?

        • Then it's not an organism.
          • by rainmayun (842754)
            that doesn't mean that they might not end up creating a virus that's immune to lots of other things by accident.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by V-similitude (2186590)

              But viruses are already mostly immune to other viruses. Most (or all?) antivirals try to stop the virus from either entering or reproducing in the host cell; not to outright kill the virus If the virus itself doesn't use standard DNA/RNA replication, it's not going to be able to replicate in a normal host cell, so it would be pretty much harmless (unless you also had an organism that used that type of replication).

              And a bacteria-like organism that uses a new type of replication, while it could be as deadly

              • by Plekto (1018050)

                Sounds like a perfect recipe for a biological disaster. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:56AM (#36642122)

        How do Gödel's incompleteness theorems apply to creating an organism immune to all viruses?

        Gödel's incompleteness theorem states, in relevant part, that no Slashdot discussion is complete without someone vaguely referring to a theory they know little to nothing about in the desperate hope of getting modded up.

        (Thanks in advance for the answer).

        No problem.

        • To elaborate on that, the incompleteness theorem is an essential part of the time-honored slashdot tradition of proof by anal extraction. Bullshit - it ain't just for breakfast any more.
      • by meburke (736645)

        If you read the article, the presupposition of underlying future uses is that they will be able to logically predict and then prevent mishaps. I would explain Godel's theorem to a lay person by saying that logical analysis is layered, and above each layer is another layer that analyzes the underlying propositions, predicates and so forth differently. It is therefore impossible to accurately predict all the results just by using logic.

        The article is, of course, dumb'ed down for public consumption, and the ch

        • by Gorobei (127755)

          I would explain Godel's theorem to a lay person by saying that logical analysis is layered, and above each layer is another layer that analyzes the underlying propositions, predicates and so forth differently. It is therefore impossible to accurately predict all the results just by using logic.

          Good idea to restrict your explanation to lay people. If you used it on experts, they would laugh at you.

          • by meburke (736645)

            Yeah, I know you're being snide, but I had a pretty good Jesuit education, and I could demonstrate competency in Logic to any of them. Logic is not my field, nor is Mathematics (anymore), so I would expect that academics currently involved would have something useful to share with me.

            I got a little amusement out of your comment though I suspect you didn't really intend the implication.

      • IANAM, but AFAIK GÃdel's incompleteness theorems apply to almost everything except axiomatic set theories specifically designed to avoid it. Likely what the OP referred to was that the sought isolation is highly improbable since in order to interact with its environment and therefore be a "living organism" it needs to be subject to death and disease and permeable to such currents of life. GITs sort of says that all systems fail when they get complex enough, which might not be a reason for solipsism sin

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:51AM (#36642102)
      Actually, what they (Church and Jacobsen) are proposing, long term, is to create bacteria/cells/whatever that use a different DNA coding -- meaning they wouldn't be able to exchange DNA with anything that uses "natural" DNA coding, meaning anything already alive, even viruses. Basically a built-in firewall to prevent cross-contamination in either direction. Pretty ingenious, really. If you look at the "Changing the genetic code" diagram here [newscientist.com] you'll get the idea. Of course, I suspect we'd find that we'd soon get new viruses that also used this new coding, and contaminated these new cell lines.
      • by HiThere (15173)

        So they *did* mean that! I don't think you can get a new DNA via evolution. Not starting from an existing sample. The local peak is too high.

        OTOH, if they *are* successful, while viruses will eventually show up, I wouldn't expect them in the current century (unless someone creates them on purpose). Or in the next century. And I'd consider seeing them in the current millennium to be grossly unexpected. Sufficiently so to suspect intelligent involvement. (I.e., people, computers, aliens, uplifted anima

      • In Greg Egan's "The Moat", this is exactly what a group of people do - breed a new race of humans using non-standard base pairs, thereby meaning that they cannot interbreed with anyone, just the "genetically superior" members of their own race: and rendering them immune to all viruses and preventing imperfection creeping in from quick forays into the bushes with the "inferior" milkman.

        I doubt we'd find viruses adapted to the new chemistry very fast. Finding a way to metabolise a new chemical (eg E. coli and

    • by HiThere (15173)

      Well, if they meant all current viruses, then there's not a real problem. (Just change the letters of the DNA/RNA code.) It's complicated, and I don't think you could get there by evolving from the current state, but there's no theoretic problem. (You could even just switch them around. Use the same letters, but have a different trigram to amino-acid mapping.) (I don't really think we currently know enough about the ribosome to do this, but I could be wrong.)

      If they mean no virus is possible, then I ag

    • Someone needs to do a little reading to understand what the incompleteness theorems say -- and, perhaps more importantly in this context, what they don't say, which can best be summarized as "a hell of a lot less than the endless stream of posters who namecheck Goedel without having the faintest idea what they're talking about seem to think they say."

  • very doubtful. thats the beauty behind evolution - to every measure, there is a counter measure that eventually evolved.

    • Even if it were possible, is it a good idea?

      "Hey I know, let's make something that reproduces and can't be killed en-masse."

      Or, in short, let's make an even more indestructible cockroach.

      • by sorak (246725)

        Even if it were possible, is it a good idea?

        "Hey I know, let's make something that reproduces and can't be killed en-masse."

        Or, in short, let's make an even more indestructible cockroach.

        I never thought "immune to mass genocide" could be a drawback. Thanks world, for ruining yet another day.

  • What a great plot "device" (ba da bash!) for a science fiction story!

    Call it "Deus* Ex Machina"! (Or how about "Intelligent Design ex machina" for our evolutionarily clueless friends?)

    *"Deus" in this context does not mean literally God but rather the blind forces of nature artificially sped up by this machine. Sort of like a blind watchmaker on steroids AND caffeine (with apologies to Richard Dawkins).

    • i mean. here we are, intelligent creatures.

      we are creating life. sure, we are using evolution as a tool to do it, but we have the final say in what lives and what dies.

      • Why would what we do prove anything about what some other hypothetical entity might have done?

        Does the fact that I had stir-fry for dinner last night prove anything about what other people had for dinner last night? No. It simply means I, myself, had stir fry.

        Similarly, the fact that we, an "intelligent" species are now sort of creating and designing life-forms says only that we, an "intelligent" species are now sort of creating and designing life-forms. It does not say we were created by an intelligent des

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Well, that explains everything.

        Intelligent design is correct. And God is dead. He created a virus that killed him, and went on to populate the world.

        This tells you something about the nature of God... He had clumsy lab protocols.

    • by MachDelta (704883)

      Or... a game? [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:20AM (#36641934)

    "One of the aims of these researchers is to create an organism that is genetically immune to all viruses."

    Jesus, somebody stop them NOW. We don't even have a superhero to fight that thing yet, what the fuck are they thinking?

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      We don't even have a superhero to fight that thing yet, what the fuck are they thinking?

      We have to use similar technology to crank out candidate recombinant superheros to be selected for fitness. Superman with Wonder-Woman's boobs may be able to use milk as an antidote to Cryptonite, for example.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:20AM (#36641936)

    I wonder how easily it could be used to engineer the opposite case: a virus against which humans have no effective defenses.

    Heck, just make on that takes out chickens, cows, and pigs, and humans all of a sudden have a major protein deficiency until alternatives (nuts, fish, etc.) could be ramped up, which would probably take at least 1-2 years.

    • beans & legumes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by decora (1710862) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:34AM (#36642010) Journal

      ever since the dawn of modern agriculture, protein has come largely from beans.

      especially in the America's where cows and pigs did not exist until circa 1500 AD when the europeans introduced them (along with their zoonotic diseases).

      • Untrue: hunters and gatherers did hunt for meat. They didn't eat meat every day, but on the days they caught something they did eat more meat than the 75 grams required daily.
        The Indians you seem to refer to did eat meat. They ate the creatures that were there. The reason they did not drive the bisons to extinction was both the low population density and the fact they used the creatures efficiently (they didn't throw meat away because it didn't taste good enough).
        Compare that with the idiotic behavior o
        • by decora (1710862)

          the first white people did not have trains

          there were very few 'bison' in the desert where the Anasazi lived, or in other areas like, say, florida or new york.
          there was plenty of hunting, but there was also plenty of agriculture.

          hence the mythology of the 'three sisters', corn, beans, and squash
          beans could be preserved through the winter, a task more difficult for meat (although possible)

          yes i am a vegetarian. as were ancient hindus, as were ancient buddhists.
          some of the first 'mock meats' were invented by b

    • Sure we can be trusted with it, just as we've been "trusted" (by whom, I wonder) with every other technology that has caused alarmists to predict the apocalypse.

      We're still here.

      • by Ja'Achan (827610)
        A man falls from a 100 story building. At the 50th story, someone sticks their head out of a window and asks the man, "how's life?" The man answers "so far, so good."
        • Well then, you have proven conclusively that the entirety of humanity is doomed, doomed, doomed and we should never, ever look into anything new.

          Oh, wait - you've missed entirely the idea that a man falling from a very high place is basically bound by laws of physics we understand pretty well to continue accelerating until he impacts with the ground, likely fatally based on tons of evidence, unless there is some kind of miraculous intervention?

          Can you tell me, please, what evidence we have - what laws exist

          • by Thantik (1207112)

            Can you tell me, please, what evidence we have - what laws exist, and what records we have - that prove that short of some kind of miraculous intervention, we are doomed based on our current course of action?

            The universe is basically one big shooting gallery. It's pretty much guaranteed at some point or another we're going to get hit. Not that I believe that it means we should all just throw our hands up, stop investigating every inch of life and yell "We're doomed!" though. But you asked.

          • by biodata (1981610)
            > Can you tell me, please, what evidence we have - what laws exist, and what records we have - that prove that short of some kind of miraculous intervention, we are doomed based on our current course of action? The law of evolution, and the fossil record suggest we are headed for doom. In previous mass extinctions the pattern has generally been that creatures with large bodies go extinct, probably due to their fragile life-histories, depending as they do on environmental stability and webs of other cre
  • Paging Davros! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Artifice_Eternity (306661) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:21AM (#36641944) Homepage

    Mr. Davros to the white courtesy telephone, please: [wikipedia.org]

    Davros realizes that contamination from the nuclear and biological weapons used in the war is mutating the Kaled race, and artificially accelerates the process to examine the ultimate evolutionary end product. The mutations are weak and crippled: no more than one-eyed brains with tentacular appendages and with no hope of survival on their own. His solution is to remove all emotions pertaining to weakness, a category in which he groups such emotions as compassion, mercy and kindness, and place the mutants in tank-like "Mark III travel machines" partly based on the design of his wheelchair. He later names these creatures Daleks, an anagram of Kaleds.

  • He built a machine that could advance evolution too. Made himself some insta-henchmen in the Savage Land, way back in the super-early X-Men comics. I don't remember it from when it was published, mind you... because that was the 1960s I think.

    I read about it in a trade paperback collection years later. Also they brought the machine back a couple of times in the 1980s.

    Whoever would have thought that modern science would re-create any of Magneto's schemes?

    • eugenics was a real practice, taken to it's height in the Nazi "T4" program and "Genetic Health" program.

      they were purposely trying to 'artificially select' the human race so as to 'improve' society.

      and of course Magneto, according to one comic book series, grew up in Auschwitz, where his life was spared only because he found a job running the ovens.

      • Eugenics is a real practice. It's just that its believers don't call it that anymore. Just look at the abortion statistics for minorities in the U.S. vs the rest of the population.
        • No no no. That's not eugenics, that's economics.
          • No no no. That's not eugenics, that's economics.

            On point though sad but true.+1

    • by Raenex (947668)

      [Magneto] built a machine that could advance evolution too [..] 1960s I think.

      Evolution machine in the 1960s? Old hat. Try Microcosmic God [wikipedia.org], 1941.

  • I see absolutely no reason why this could possibly be a bad idea.

    Though maybe if I RTFA I'd get a better understanding of what's going on besides from the /. summary. =D

    • Some would say that you should know what you're talking about before you open your mouth.

      • Those "some" that would say that probably don't know humans very well. What planet are they from? Were they engineered with a machine that increases evolution speed?

        By the way, what site is this anyway?

      • Some would say that you should know what you're talking about before you open your mouth.

        You must be new here.

        You can interpret "here" as meaning slashdot, teh intarwebs in general, or the whole fucking planet.

  • it was a nice species, while it lasted.

    too bad they never really evolved that much from their simian ancestors. 200,000 years of evolution and they are still trying to prove whose dick is bigger.

  • Not without cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sammysheep (537812) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:37AM (#36642020)
    When you select for resistant bacteria growing in the presence of antibiotics, there is usually a fitness tradeoff for that resistance. Suppose now instead that we have some virus-resistant organism we've engineered. This means all the virus receptors on the surface of the cell no longer bind virus particles, and if you've done this for *many* virus receptors, then you've mutated a lot of cell-surface proteins. I can't imagine this would go without fitness cost.

    On the other hand, from studying influenza I can say that viruses evolve much faster than we do and if a variant (maybe adapted to another host) or subtype emerges that can bind your receptor anyway, then in effect you've selected out variants but not stopped the virus. Getting regular vaccines are still the way to go on this, IMO.
  • This sounds perfect for making biological weapons. This process has one major weakness: Natural selection means adding random mutations, meaning there will probably be more than just the desired changes. So long as the corp doesn't see those mutations as harmful (tobacco is safe!) they will go ahead and sell it.
  • Except ... it will kill off honey bees and Monarch butterflies. (like some other perfectly "safe" genetic engineering)
    • Except ... it will kill off honey bees and Monarch butterflies. (like some other perfectly "safe" genetic engineering)

      You do realize that nobody [usda.gov] believes [psu.edu] that anymore don't you? Sure, GMO Bt pollen can affect monarch larva, but not all that much, and no where near as much as the alternative (pesticide sprays), but that study basically force fed the pollen to the caterpillars and, surprise, they died, and that's been blown way out of context by anti-GMO interest groups like the organic consumer's association and Greenpeace. As for bees, I was unaware that there were even poor studies that linked CCD to GMOs.

  • by Hartree (191324) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @12:33PM (#36642320)

    This article is hyped up to the stars.

    It's good work, but the ideas aren't "revolutionary" the way they are portrayed.

    Lateral gene transfer in bacteria has been known for a long time. It's how resistance to antibiotics is spread among bacteria for example.

    It's also been used a good deal already by microbiologists/biochem types (that line is getting a little blurred these days).

    Church's group has found a way to automate this.

    They can create large numbers of bacterial strains which have some or all of the desired characteristics in a short time.

    The downside is the needle of the desired organism is in a haystack of partially successful or unsuccessful ones. In this case, it was linked to production of a bright red chemical. You could determine which was closer to the right one by color. That's easy to automate.

    Most characteristics won't be that easy to screen or automate.

    Church then goes into what's really an old idea. Encrypting the genome so that it's resistant to existing virus types. You then use a modified ribosome to translate that into proteins. I remember discussions of that in the late 80/early 90s on some of the transhumanist newsgroups (anyone remember usenet?).

    The devil in the details here is that much of the information in the genome isn't for coding proteins directly, but for regulating gene expressions and other purposes. Much of that latter we still don't understand. It's hard to design an encryption to preserve a functionality you don't understand.

    So, instead of throwing up their hands, Church et al appeal to using the above automated method and the microbes to sort out something that works, but again we really won't understand. At least at first.

    It's an interesting idea. Sounds like a lot of work even if automated.

    But, as anyone who was caught up in the genetic algorithms craze in computers can attest, it's not a guaranteed solution.

    • "So, instead of throwing up their hands, Church et al appeal to using the above automated method and the microbes to sort out something that works, but again we really won't understand. At least at first."

      Seems a great tool for helping us understanding. It is probably much easier if you know more than one encoding that works.

    • by Rutulian (171771) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @02:20PM (#36642924)

      Actually this research is really interesting...maybe not revolutionary, but interesting. I went to a talk by one of Church's postdocs at a conference recently and he was talking about this project. There are a lot of potential applications, but the example he was using was the optimization of the production of a metabolite. Traditionally this has been the hold up for synthetic biology. Getting microorganisms to produce industrially useful metabolites is not new. But engineering them to produce a large amount in and economical manner is where all the time and money goes because it requires some modeling, a lot of guessing, and mostly manual genetic manipulation. This technique uses the principal of directed evolution of a single gene (known for a few decades as you say) and applies it to an entire gene cluster, and potentially an entire organism. And it works! It's not a finished project, to be sure, but it can potentially become a very useful tool.

      The "encrypting the genome" case refers to changing the codon code for the organism. Non-coding sequences won't be affected by it. The idea is that if you use a non-canonical genetic code for protein expression, foreign dna can still be inserted into the genome, but it can't be expressed. So viruses won't be able to replicate in the organism. It is immunity of sorts, but perhaps not really the way we normally think about it. It is useful because it potentially allows for the creation of stable genetically-engineered organisms. The biosafety concerns of genetically modified organisms come from the various mechanisms by which recombinant dna can "escape" and get out into the environment. An organism like this will be genetically isolated and therefore should mitigate many of those concerns. It also lessens the likelihood of further mutation over time, which can make your possibly $millions investment worthless.

      • by Hartree (191324)

        I very much agree it's good interesting work. I tend to throw a little cold water on things scientific here on slashdot. When these things get written up in the popular press and press releases from the university PR types, they get hyped so much that it's a good idea to point out the limitations and problems.

        We certainly need better methods of developing organisms with whole new sets of functionality rather than just one minor change.

        It's just that this work is one piece, not the finished method as you men

    • by HiThere (15173)

      IIUC they are planning a much stronger modification of the genetic code. This puzzles me, as I don't believe that you can get there by evolutionary changes. OTOH, I didn't believe that we understood the ribosome well enough that we could even change the mapping of DNA to protein. And it would need to be a strong enough change to be totally immune to viruses, because even one that could use it as a host would soon undo their work.

      On the third hand, a change in the DNA/RNA to protein mapping would probably

      • by Hartree (191324)

        Church et al may be planning something more limited than that. At least initially. (I've not had a chance to look at even the abstracts of actual papers, so this is a guess).

        The virii that target bacteria (phage) tend to hijack the existing stretches of dna that the bacteria themselves use for incorporating new dna. This makes sense, as it's less likely to disrupt something else if it lands in a pre-prepared area where the surrounding sequences are more of a known item.

        If you can fiddle with those regions,

  • You may be able to create immunity against most nucleic acid-based viruses this way. However, if you consider prions to be viruses, you won't be able to genetic engineer past them. Some prions take advantage of the protein misfolding response, which is not something you would want to engineer away.
    • by HiThere (15173)

      You could, you know. Granted the project to create immunity to prions would require modifying all the proteins to use different amino acids...

      I think that the project as stated is already too ambitious to succeed. What you're proposing would be an order or two of magnitude more difficult. ... But probably not much more than that.

      Also, I'm not sure just how much bacteria use prions. Mammals use lots of them, so we are subject to prion diseases, but bacteria use many fewer...I'm not certain they use any.

  • I wonder how long it will be before we have a genetically-engineered yeasts that produce THC, morphine, amphetamines, cocaine, etc., so that anyone could make what they want in a small Petri dish, starting from a microscopic amount of starter yeast. How would society deal with this?
    • Seems doable today, if you are willing to invesr half a house and a few years into it. Too bad most people wiling to invest those are looking for more usefull results.

    • Fyi, the genes responsible for synthesis of THC-a (carboxylated acid form found in plant before heating/burning/vaping/cooking which causes rapid decarboxylation to form THC), from acetyl-CoA is known and published, with the genetic sequences attached to the publication. It is in the 19 September 2009 publication of the Journal of Experimental Botany.

      Plasmid based expression, or transgenic expression, in yeast or E. coli, or tomatoes (no plasmid in tomatoes) would not likely require more than one dedicated

    • How would society deal with this?

      Probably by outlawing petri dishes and lab equipment. I can see the anti-freedom pro-drug war idiots now. "What legitimate use could someone have for petri dishes and lab equipment BESIDES making drugs?!"

  • Am I the only one who thought of Theodore Sturgeon?
    (note I've only skimmed the comments so ...)

  • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @02:38PM (#36643010)

    " to create an organism that is genetically immune to all viruses."

    And hungry. Very, very hungry. With the ability to smell neurons.

  • There are potential dangers in making organisms virus-proof, though. Most obviously, they might have an advantage over competing species if they escaped into the wild, allowing them to dominate environments with potentially destructive effects. In the case of E. coli, those environments could include our guts.

    "We want to be very careful. The goal is to isolate these organisms from part of the natural sphere with which they normally interact," says Carr. "We shouldn't pretend that we understand all possible

  • (I worked on) Music: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.evojazz [android.com]
    3D plants: http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/PlantStudio/ [kurtz-fernhout.com]

    Ultimately, what kind of effect will this have on employment as robotics and AI get more and more creative? See:
    http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketscience/2009/04/enter_adam_the_robot_scientist.php [scienceblogs.com]

    Here is a 12 minute YouTube video I recently made that talks about a balance between five interwoven economies that shifts with cultural change and technological change:

    • Is PlantStudio still being developed? I occasionally have to do botanical illustration and have stumbled across PlantStudio before, but never evaluated it. Cheers, Craig

      • Thanks for asking. I ported part of it to Python (to try on the OLPC, which was slow), and part of the overall framework to Java (mostly for StoryHarp), but there has not been a new version in a long time, sorry. It still works under Windows emulators; use the zipped version as the later versions of Windows don't like the installer. A free registration code is on the site.

  • First off, to make an organism that is impervious to virus is probably impossible. But assume that you could. WOuld that be a good thing? Nope. It stops evolution. Evolution is NOT single point genetic mutations, but is virus splicing/slicing in new sections, possibly even new genes. However, even if now sections, these will ultimately make it to the point of being a full gene.
  • It's easier to list the things that could not possibly go wrong.

  • An analogy would be that they are building a Z80 processor, in a world all viruses run on Intel. None of the opcodes from the virus would work.
  • One of the best short stories from the master himself -- Theodore Sturgeon. This article reminds me of it. I should read it again.
  • What we have learned so far from all the sci fi movies, if anything, is that when you develop something that is immune to viruses, you develop a Frankenstein, and then you will suffer even greater then the good it could have provided...please stop searching for immunity, that is the whole reason why life is precious, by making everyone immune to everything, then life becomes taken for granted....

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court