November 14th, 2003


So what is life?

According to this BBC report, a virus has been recreated from scratch, using DNA fragments and the known sequence of its genome. The result was apparently indistinguishable from the natural virus, as able to infect and reproduce as its forebears.

If you think that a virus is alive, then this is a case of life having being recreated in the laboratory.

If you don't (and a form of life that can be crystallised is admittedly stretching things), then they haven't, yet.

But how long will it be before a simple bacterium can also be constructed. Yes, it's going to be a hell of a lot harder, since you will have to create all the organelles, the full running cellular machinery which isn't needed for a virus (which is 'only' DNA), but I'd not bet against it.