Olivia Judson marvels at synthetic biology:

What I love about this is that the process of inventing a new genetic language will help us to understand more about the one that actually evolved. Indeed, this has already begun. Early attempts to manufacture DNA alternatives quickly revealed that the “bannisters” of the double helix the chains that run down the outside of the molecule are more essential to how the molecule works than anyone had thought.

There are many ways we could use designer organisms, some good and some bad. But the most fundamental aspect of the enterprise is that by trying to build life, we gain a more profound understanding of its evolved nature.

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