Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stromatolites

Have you ever heard of stromatolites? Neither had I, but they're fascinating.

Stromatolites are just one of the many things you'll learn about in National Geographic's Naked Science Birth of Life documentary, which packs in a lot of good info in its 47 minutes.

The research of MIT scientist Tom Knight is also pretty attention-grabbing. Essentially he's attempting to change "the technology of life," that is re-engineer life to create a type of Life 2.0.

Even more far-reaching is the work of Harvard Medical School geneticist Jack W. Szostak, who wishes to better understand the transition from the chemistry of making molecules to the way that molecules work together to give us life; that is, to build a living system. He realizes that trying to accomplish this in a few years is tantamount to trying to speed up the natural process of the formation of life by a factor of several hundred million, and smiles almost apologetically into the camera. Szostak thinks it will be possible to create a single, self-replicating RNA molecule, and thus start a new process of evolution.
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