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While it may be debated whether Craig Venter’s newly announced creation of a synthetic genome controlling a bacteria is a stupendous breakthrough or just hype, one thing is certain: it has got the public talking. I am fascinated reading the threads of comments following articles about this on the web. They really give me, a scientist-in-training, a glimmer of the public’s feelings and understanding of science and scientists.
Take this thread for example in response to the BBC’s “Have Your Say: Will synthetic biology do more harm than good?” The public seems to have a bit of a B-rated sci-fi flick mentality when it comes to science. They hatch up all sorts of doomsday plots including one of my favorites: what if these bacteria are engineered to consume carbon dioxide but then mutate to consumer oxygen and then consume ALL the oxygen in the ENTIRE WORLD?!! Read the rest of this entry »