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May 21, 2010

US scientist creates \’artificial life\’

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US scientist creates ‘artificial life’

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Venter in 2007.

American biologist Craig Venter has announced that he has created the first ever “artificial life form” on Earth at the J. Craig Venter Institute, a U.S. laboratory and research center.

The breakthrough is the culmination of fifteen years of research and builds upon earlier work, research which saw the creation of a synthetic bacterial genome and the transplant of a genome from one species of bacteria into a second. “Synthia”, a nickname derived from synthetic lifeform, combines these two techniques to create a “new lifeform”.

A genome was created using synthetic chromosomes made from bottles of chemicals, the chromosomes sequenced to create a genome using as a template an existing bacterium. A bacterium from different species then had its own genome removed and the synthetic one transplanted in its place. Venter’s achievement is that the new genome switched on and the new cell was able to replicate. A process likened to the booting of a computer with a new operating system.

Venter’s achievement has been dismissed by some as falling short of a true technological breakthrough, claiming that rather than creating a new genome, that he has merely recreated the genome of an existing bacterium: “a technical tour de force” but not breakthrough science, according to Caltech geneticist David Baltimore.

Amongst the possibilities of artificial bacteria talked about are bacteria tailored to solve climate change by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and to develop new vaccines. More complex organisms could include algae which would both be a source of biofuels and a CO2 remover. This is not, however, the instant solution to the Earth’s major problems. Although enough is now known to duplicate a genome, there is insufficient knowledge as to what the role of individual chromosomes within the genome do. Any advances in synthetic biology to design life forms would require a much greater understanding of how the creation of proteins are coded in a genome’s chromosomes.



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  • “US scientist says he created first ‘artificial life form'” — Wikinews, October 6, 2007

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New earthquake hits Chile

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New earthquake hits Chile – Wikinews, the free news source

New earthquake hits Chile

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Shakemap of the earthquake.
Image: United States Geological Survey.

A strong earthquake hit Chile at approximately at 14:52 local time (1852 UTC) on Friday. The United States Geological Survey first reported it reached a preliminary magnitude of 5.5, and the epicenter was located very close to Pichilemu, a coastal town in the O’Higgins Region. Exact distances were: 102 kilometers to the northwest of Talca; 165km to the southwest of Santiago de Chile and 167km to the south of Valparaíso. The earthquake lasted approximately 30 seconds.

SHOA (Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Army), reported it reached a magnitude of 5.5. USGS updated their information later, and specified the earthquake reached a 5.7 magnitude, with a depth of 10 kilometers, and the epicenter was located 70km at the northwest of Curicó, 85km southwest of Rancagua, 95km south of San Antonio, 140km southwest of Santiago.

Wikinews reporter Diego Grez, who was in Santa Cruz at the time of the tremor, reported that the power went out for approximately 30 minutes and people evacuated their houses quickly. In Pichilemu, the power also went out, but came back in a few minutes. Desperate people quickly ran to the now well-known La Cruz Hill.

USGS’ Did you feel it? users have reported the earthquake was felt in Colina, Santiago (Santiago Metropolitan), Curicó (Maule), Machalí, Rengo, Rancagua (O’Higgins), and Valparaíso (Valparaíso).

ONEMI (Chile’s National Emergencies Office) has reported no casualties or structural damage; and reported the earthquake was felt between the Metropolitan Region and Bío Bío. The Mercalli scale intensities were: Pichilemu, Constitución and Paredones: V; San Fernando, Santa Cruz, Navidad, Curicó, Río Claro, Linares, Molina, Longaví and Rancagua: IV; San Javier and San Clemente: III; Concepción, Coelemu and Cauquenes: II.

The University of Chile Geological Survey reported the epicenter of the earthquake was located 28 kilometers at the south of Pichilemu, and it is most likely an aftershock to the March 11 earthquake. UCGS also reported it reached a magnitude of 5.6, at a depth of 7.3 kilometers.

Overview of the beach of Pichilemu shortly after the February 27 earthquake.
Image: Diego Grez.



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Cyclone Laila lashes across India\’s Eastern coastline

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Cyclone Laila lashes across India’s Eastern coastline

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Cyclone Laila over India

Cyclone Laila packing winds of 110 kilometres per hour closed in on the east coast of India on Thursday as tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes, fearing major storm damage.

Laila hit the state of Andhra Pradesh as heavy rain and strong gales battered the coast, state authorities said at least 30,000 people had been evacuated from low-lying areas. The armed forces were drafted in to help the evacuation efforts after Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister, K. Rosaiah, called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to request extra assistance.

Andhra Pradesh was under 1 foot (32 centimeters) before the cyclone hit. Heavy rains are causing road blockages and landslides. Bridges and culverts are under watch. File photo

The Indian Meteorological Department graded the cyclone as “severe”, and said it was due to hit land near the city of Machilipatnam after moving from its current position 100 kilometres (62 miles) off the coast in the Bay of Bengal.

The department’s latest warning said a “storm surge” of up to two metres above the regular tide was likely to inundate parts of Andhra Pradesh. It said large trees were likely to be uprooted, houses damaged and escape routes from the coast flooded. All fishermen were ordered to stay on shore due to “very rough” sea conditions, and the Asian Tribune said Reliance Industries had suspended crude oil and gas production in the Bay as a precaution.

The agency said 40,000 people had been evacuated from hundreds of coastal villages, while some air flights and train services were also affected. State disaster officials said that besides existing cyclone shelters, schools and community halls were serving as relief camps to evacuees.

Three people were killed when a shed collapsed during heavy winds in Andhra Pradesh, while a fisherman drowned in rough sea in neighbouring Tamil Nadu state. Local unconfirmed reports put the total death toll at between 14 and 17.

India and Bangladesh are hit regularly by cyclones that develop in the Bay of Bengal, causing widespread damage to homes and fields. Last May, Cyclone Aila tore through southern Bangladesh killing 300 people and destroyed 4,000 kilometres of roads and river embankments, leading to major flooding.


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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

US scientist creates ‘artificial life’

Filed under: Science and technology — admin @ 5:00 am

Friday, May 21, 2010

Venter in 2007.

American biologist Craig Venter has announced that he has created the first ever “artificial life form” on Earth at the J. Craig Venter Institute, a U.S. laboratory and research center.

The breakthrough is the culmination of fifteen years of research and builds upon earlier work, research which saw the creation of a synthetic bacterial genome and the transplant of a genome from one species of bacteria into a second. “Synthia”, a nickname derived from synthetic lifeform, combines these two techniques to create a “new lifeform”.

A genome was created using synthetic chromosomes made from bottles of chemicals, the chromosomes sequenced to create a genome using as a template an existing bacterium. A bacterium from different species then had its own genome removed and the synthetic one transplanted in its place. Venter’s achievement is that the new genome switched on and the new cell was able to replicate. A process likened to the booting of a computer with a new operating system.

Venter’s achievement has been dismissed by some as falling short of a true technological breakthrough, claiming that rather than creating a new genome, that he has merely recreated the genome of an existing bacterium: “a technical tour de force” but not breakthrough science, according to Caltech geneticist David Baltimore.

Amongst the possibilities of artificial bacteria talked about are bacteria tailored to solve climate change by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and to develop new vaccines. More complex organisms could include algae which would both be a source of biofuels and a CO2 remover. This is not, however, the instant solution to the Earth’s major problems. Although enough is now known to duplicate a genome, there is insufficient knowledge as to what the role of individual chromosomes within the genome do. Any advances in synthetic biology to design life forms would require a much greater understanding of how the creation of proteins are coded in a genome’s chromosomes.



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  • Craig Venter unveils “synthetic life” video in YouTube.
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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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