A.I AND JAMES JOYCE. Venter and Earwicker Bachwords

“TO LIVE, TO ERR, TO FALL, TO TRIUMPH, TO RECREATE LIFE OUT OF LIFE.” – from James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

“We report the design, synthesis, and assembly of the 1.08-Mbp Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 genome starting from digitized genome sequence information and its transplantation into a Mycoplasma capricolum recipient cell to create new Mycoplasma mycoides cells that are controlled only by the synthetic chromosome.

“The genome contains blueprints, in which are encoded the names of the researchers, a website address, contact email and quotes from James Joyce, Richard Feynman and a biography of Robert Oppenheimer. —http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/audio/2010/may/21/craig-venter-synthetic-life-form

“a rude breathing on the void of to be, a venter hearing his
own bauchspeech in backwords, or, more strictly, but tristurned
initials, the cluekey to a worldroom beyond the roomwhorld, for
scarce one —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, pg. 100


Synthetic biology is a new area of biological research that combines science and engineering. Synthetic biology encompasses a variety of different approaches, methodologies and disciplines, and many different definitions exist. What they all have in common, however, is that they see synthetic biology as the design and construction of new biological functions and systems not found in nature. –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_biology



Synthetic Genomics is a company dedicated to using modified or synthetically produced microorganisms to produce the alternative fuels ethanol and hydrogen. Synthetic Genomics was founded in part by J. Craig Venter. Venter’s previous company, Celera Genomics, was a driving force in the race to sequence the Human Genome.[1]

The firm takes its name from the phrase synthetic genomics which is a scientific discipline of synthetic biology related to the generation of organisms artificially using genetic material.[2] Currently, Synthetic Genomics is working to produce biofuels on an industrial-scale using recombinant algae and other microorganisms. They are receiving funding from companies like Exxon for this venture. –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_Genomics


As a development of that ongoing effort, last week Venter announced in the pages of Science magazine that his research team had – by putting together a living and replicating bacterium from synthetic components, inserting a computer-generated genome into a cell – “created life” in the laboratory for the first time. The experiment suggested the possibility of creating bacteria to perform specific functions: as producers of fossil fuels or medicines.

Venter, now 63, is nothing if not a showman and the publication of this revelation and the subsequent press conferences, have polarised opinion in ways with which he has long been familiar. Some authorities, and several newspaper leader writers, have claimed him as our Galileo or our Einstein; others have been notably underwhelmed.

Freeman Dyson, the physicist, captured the full range of academic sentiment in this dry appraisal: “This experiment is clumsy, tedious, unoriginal. From the point of view of aesthetic and intellectual elegance, it is a bad experiment. But it is nevertheless a big discovery… the ability to design and create new forms of life marks a turning point in the history of our species and our planet.”

Venter’s ego and his preference to turn to corporations rather than research foundations as funding partners (Exxon Mobil is a $600m sponsor of his energy experiments) do not tend to endear him to the academic establishment. Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, and a perennial voice of reason, offered me this verdict on the biologist’s latest headlines.

“It’s very easy to mock Venter,” Jones suggests. “When he first appeared, people just kind of sneered at him. But they stopped sneering when they saw his brilliance in realising that the genome was not a problem of chemistry but a problem of computer power. I don’t think anybody can deny that that was a monumental achievement and he has been doing fantastically interesting things subsequently with marine life. Having said that, though, the man is clearly a bit of a prick and one with a serial addiction to publicity.” —http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2010/may/23/observer-profile-craig-venter


lastly but mostly, in
her genesic field it is all game and no gammon; she is ladylike in
everything she does and plays the gentleman’s part every time.
Let us auspice it! –James Joyce, FW, pg. 112

* “TO LIVE, TO ERR, TO FALL, TO TRIUMPH, TO RECREATE LIFE OUT OF LIFE.” – from James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
* “SEE THINGS NOT AS THEY ARE, BUT AS THEY MIGHT BE.”- a quote from the book, American Prometheus which discusses J. Robert Oppenheimer and the first atomic bomb.
* *“WHAT I CANNOT BUILD, I CANNOT UNDERSTAND.” – attributed to Richard Feynman (physicist, philosopher, badass) as the last words on his blackboard at the time of his death as described in The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking (physicist, philosopher, badass).

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