Matt Wuerker

定制生命

发自墨尔本——早在16世纪,一位叫巴拉塞尔西斯的炼金术士就提出了一个创造新生命的秘诀,那就是把精子注入腐烂的“venter equinus”里面,这个词通常被翻译为“马粪”,但拉丁文的“venter”其实是腹部或者子宫的意思。

而如今那些江湖术士们无疑会感到欣慰,因为一个叫克雷格·温特(Craig Venter)的人所资助的科学家团队刚刚在上月宣布成功创造了一个人造生命:这是一个细菌,而它携带的基因则是在实验室里设计并化学合成出来的。

这个被昵称为“辛西娅(Synthia,意为‘人造人’)”的细菌拥有复制和制造蛋白质的能力。不管用何种定义,这都是一个活生生的东西。虽然这个细菌的绝大部分结构都是复制自另一个天然细菌,但创造者向其基因组中嵌入了一组特别的DNA序列来证明它不是一个自然产物。把这些基因序列转译成字符编码之后就是几位研究者的名字,还有一些诸如理查德·费曼所说的“只有我理解不了的东西,没有我造不出来的东西”之类的名言。

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/nXL4KhA/zh;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now