Right now a symposium titled “Synthetic Biology for the Next Generation” is being run jointly by The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering – in New York City. Participants in this conference will examine the tools, platforms, and infrastructure needed for continued advances in synthetic biology; political and social strategies to pursue these advances; and research applications in key areas.
You can watch the live stream of the symposium right now here. (EDIT: the conference is now over but the videos are available from where the stream was). You can also follow the symposium via the twitter hashtag #synbioLEAP. The symposium will progress throughout today and tomorrow (June 12/13) and is the last of a three part series of symposiums. This conference takes a very realist, applied and advanced approach to the issues of synthetic biology.
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have published a study which suggests that expanding the genetic alphabet may be easier than previously thought. Check out their press release on the topic here , or the original scientific article here.
“If we can get this new base pair to replicate with high efficiency and fidelity in vivo, we’ll have a semi-synthetic organism,” Romesberg said. “The things that one could do with that are pretty mind blowing.”
In a stunning display of self-organisation, a slime mould has managed to conversantly design the tokyo rail network – to a fairly accurate degree too. This feat was accomplished through the design of a clever tokyo model for the slime mould to grow on. Mountains (which are bad for trains) were simulated by lights (which the mould dislikes), similarly food was used to represent urban centres. The mould quickly optimised the ideal distribution network between the nodes of food, matching the Tokyo rail model.