Man creates life - or is it?


Staff member
I came across this article earlier today:

In it, they claim they have created a lifeform with only 473 genes. Does this make them God?

Are these really lifeforms or just a case of man meddling with the dangerous primordial soup?

[For the feminists out there, it is probably "woman meddling" since they dominate the bio-sciences, but I didn't want to be accused of making a sexist insult.]


Founding Member
No women's names mentioned in that article. Sure, they may be within the team, but the person leading appears to be male in both studies. So your statement is not sexist, but accurate.


Staff member
Doc: I spoke to someone years ago who was doing some biomed type degree. They said there were 5 criteria you need to satisfy to say something is living. They said viruses only satisfied 3 or 4 of them. So, the question is are viruses alive? My understanding is they are a bit like bits of DNA floating around, from memory. Granted, my memory has got worse!

Bee: It is nice for me to not be accidentally sexist for a change. :p
I've seen a list that says now it is seven criteria, though I might disagree with some of them.

  • respond to their environment (which matches my "respond to external stimuli")
  • grow and change (which was not in the original list and I think is inappropriate, but there it is)
  • reproduce and have offspring (on my list)
  • have a complex chemistry (which was not in my original list and I question whether this is a requirement or a characteristic)
  • maintain homeostasis (have to question this one, too)
  • are built of structures called cells (requirement or characteristic?)
  • pass their traits onto their offspring (requirement or characteristic?)
It is possible that this is like the argument about Pluto being a planet or not... if you don't want it to be a planet, change the definition. I would bet that at least a couple of those relate to ways of excluding viruses from being thought of as "alive."