dcsimg
ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside June 2010

Creation of Life

Synthetic biology remakes organisms, but can it bring inanimate matter to life?

A scientist adds a few chemical compounds to a bubbling beaker and gives it a swirl. Subtle reactions occur, and, lo and behold, a new life-form assembles itself, ready to go forth and prosper. Such is the popular imagining of synthetic biology, or life created in the lab.

But researchers in this field are not as interested in animating the inanimate. In fact, scientists remain far from understanding the basic processes that could allow inert, undirected compounds to assemble into living, self-replicating cells. The famous Miller-Urey experiment of 1952, which created amino acids from primordial goo, remains difficult to replicate conclusively.

This is only a preview.
Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
ADVERTISEMENT