Monday, May 24, 2010

Weeknote #2 (w/e 23/5/10)

It's been a big week for synthetic biology, with the announcement by Craig Venter that he'd succeeded in creating a "synthetic cell". My previous post describes my take on the technical aspects of his achievement; it's not entirely accurate to call it a "synthetic cell", since they used existing cells as the recipients (that is, it was only the genome that was synthetic). It's more like "genomic transplantation" with de novo sequences. Technically challenging, but not the earth-shattering breakthrough that it's being sold/hyped as. They certainly didn't turn "inanimate chemicals into a living organism".

My own little piece of press coverage looked pretty low-key by comparison. I was interviewed ages ago by Louise Tickle for the Education section of the Guardian, and the story finally appeared last week.

This week, members of my group (specifically, Pete and Naomi) contributed to an event hosted by MMU. I'm a Director of ArcSpace Manchester, a Community Interest Company to support creative and ethical exchange, and on May 19th we held a video conference with collaborators in Sao Paolo, Brazil, to discuss "eco-techno" and public engagement. Unfortunately, other commitments meant that I was unable to attend either in person or in the form of an avatar, but my co-director, Vicky Sinclair, wrote up the event.

On the work front, I've been busy marking projects and exam scripts, although I did also submit this conference paper.

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