The news just broke that Dr Craig Venter of J. Craig Venter Institute has created “synthetic life” in a controlled lab environment. A cell with an entirely new, constructed, genetic code is replicating without mutating, if I have understood the experiment correctly and not mistranslated it into layman’s terms.
While this is news in itself and one the most exciting things to happen in natural science in my lifetime, I will let other, more qualified individuals, comment on that, at least for now. However, just today I finished reading the novel Atomised by Michel Houellebecq. The book ends with an epilogue describing how in 2011 and onward, a movement to replace the human species with a new, perfected, version of “us” is launched. It left a very profound impression with me this afternoon and I know have serious doubts about my moral ground. Unfortunately I loaned it to a friend just a couple of hours ago so I can’t quote from it.
So imagine how I feel after this new piece of news (a piece that is nowhere to be found on the CNN.com first page, by the way). But more than anything I am struck by how whenever I encounter something new in my life it seems to pop up everywhere. Today the creation of synthetic life. The day before yesterday speculoos (à tartiner). A phenomenon I just dubbed convergence of everything (a humbug term of course, but it’ll do until I’ve read more about it) and will probably write more about.