Around the world, a handful of scientists are trying to create life from scratch and they're getting closer.
Experts expect an announcement within three to 10 years from someone in the now little-known field of "wet artificial life."
"It's going to be a big deal and everybody's going to know about it," said Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, one of those in the race. "We're talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways -- in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict."
That first cell of synthetic life -- made from the basic chemicals in DNA -- may not seem like much to non-scientists. For one thing, you'll have to look in a microscope to see it.
"Creating protocells has the potential to shed new life on our place in the universe," Bedau said. "This will remove one of the few fundamental mysteries about creation in the universe and our role."
And several scientists believe man-made life forms will one day offer the potential for solving a variety of problems, from fighting diseases to locking up greenhouse gases to eating toxic waste.
The article goes on to discuss the hurdles scientists face in creating an artificial cell. The first one is expected to be leapt within the next six months.
So what will it mean when this actually happens? Will the whack jobs on the right dig their feet in and try to say we're meddling in their god's sandlot? Will it explain how life began? Will anyone really be able to believe in creationism and keep a straight face?
Artificial life by 2017
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