And What Does It Say About Me That My Response Is To Haul Out An Obscure 12″ Version of an Equally Obscure 80s Synth-Pop Song

Oh, probably that as a science fiction writer, I’ve been standing around, tapping my foot and thinking “about damn time”:

Scientists Create First Self-Replicating Synthetic Life

And now, that promised obscure remix:


29 Comments on “And What Does It Say About Me That My Response Is To Haul Out An Obscure 12″ Version of an Equally Obscure 80s Synth-Pop Song”

  1. I can’t decide whether the whole synthetic life thing is terrifying or exhilarating.

    I also feel like I’ve already surpassed my lifetime quota of “whoa–everything just *changed* and I’m here to see it” moments, and they’ve pretty much all happened in the last 10 years. Well, besides the whole Berlin wall going away thing.

  2. I remember the original song and it’s only the second OMD song I know.

  3. I can’t help but be disturbed, not only because creating life is an unpredictable enterprise, but because this guy is looking to patent a living thing.

  4. While there’s a part of me that says “yea!” (and another that screams “Oh NO!”), most of me is saying “yawn”. John Von Neumann described how to do this years ago, even before the discovery of DNA, in the Von Neumann Universal Constructor. For all that they have done there, it’s more of a hijacking of life than the creation of life, which may be a good thing.

  5. Ahh, I love me some OMD. <3

    @Chris Turkel: Everyone knows If You Leave, but my favorite by them is Dreaming.

  6. “We’ve briefed the White House…” Venter says…

    i need to find my copy of max brook’s zombie survival guide…

  7. When the CBC Radio news covered the story, they led in with the “it’s alive!” clip from 1931’s “Frankenstein” movie. It was, of course, tongue-in-cheek… but you do have to wonder how many torches are being kindled at the news.

    — Steve

  8. Ah, OMD – saw them twice in concert in college… Dazzle Ships, the album this was from, was good, but I prefer Architecture and Morality.

    I haven’t read the paper yet, but I’m not surprised by the news. We’ve been leading up to this for a while; the hard part is still to come – making up organelles de novo. Still, it’s wonderful to see it happening…

  9. I said the song was obscure, not the band. Although outside “If You Leave,” here in the states they weren’t exactly hugely high-profile.

  10. This is indeed a remarkable step forward. However, I’d like to make an important point (also made by PZ Myers in #16’s link): This experiment did not produce “synthetic life” – at least not as I and I suspect most SF authors/readers would probably think of it. J. Craig Venter and his colleagues successfully rebooted an anucleate bacterial cell with a synthesized genome that is a copy of a different bacterial genome. The synthetic genome was not designed from scratch (or assembled from a collection of pre-existing parts). Once someone designs a genome from scratch with a specific set of activities and reboots it…then I’d say we have “synthetic life.” Venter is a determined person, and this is his ultimate goal. (And the goal of many others as well.) So, it’s just a matter of time…

  11. Thank you. I never heard this is in the first place. At the time that this kind of stuff was coming out, I was in the throes of early childrearing, working fulltime, going to school, attending too many local political meetings, and generally never hearing any music that wasn’t on the local college radio or featured in a feckless fundraising event. Which means that everything is new to me that ought to be old, and delightful.

  12. What does it say about you? Not sure. But this song about genetic engineering made me think of this reverse engineering hit single from the New Wave band Zanzibar.

  13. Hmm, to those of us who were college station deejays in the late 80s, it’s not obscure at all.

    When your station motto is “600 watts, one third the power of a good blow dryer,” you know you’re obscure.

  14. This could really be great. We can do anything with this. If we can make a bacterium do what we want, then we can make a tree or an animal do what we want. It’s a stepping-stone to great things. Fast-growing plants that absorb lots of CO2, output lots of O2, and are a food source are just barely outside our grasp.

  15. Holy crap! Gotta love those old 12″ remixes. I have this and many other old 80’s 12″ on vinyl. Ahh… the good old days. NOW GET OFF OF MY LAWN WITH YER IPODS YOU DAMN KIDS!

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