News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

DNA 2.0


The evolution of life over 3.5 billion years is such an awesome story that it threatens the power of several establishments. A small mind is a mind more easily controlled, and evolution does not suffer a small mind. We have entered the age of DNA 2.0 – the enhancement or replacement of nature’s DNA through human intervention. In religion, what we “cannot do” has become what we “should not do” and there is no better indication of the validity of the theory of evolution than this irrational fear of our increasing ability to manipulate genetics through technology.

Researchers at MIT have created BioBricks [defunct link], artificial genetic parts that can be combined together to produce particular human-engineered results in organisms. The library of parts is rapidly expanding.

In Israel, a new super DNA [defunct link] has been developed that is smart enough to diagnose cancer and launch an attack on cancerous cells. So far the new DNA has been shown to work in test tubes. Eventually, scientists hope to develop DNA computers that will reside in our cells to look for and prevent danger before the person is even aware of any symptoms.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the Minister of Education recently suggested that evolution no longer be taught in their secondary school curriculum [defunct link], citing the complexity of the theory. She has since recanted after the general outcry and a petition from scientists [defunct link]. In the United States, some public school districts have begun teaching the “Theory of Intelligent Design” (a so-called “scientific” theory based on the Bible’s story of creation). Some districts require that all biology textbooks include a disclaimer that the theory of evolution is only a theory (apparently understanding neither the definition of “theory” nor the process of the scientific method). Others require that textbooks and curriculum include a section on Intelligent Design.

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