Monday, April 04, 2011

what I cannot build, I cannot understand

The Scientist | It turns out that Craig Venter needs to brush up on his Richard Feynman history. When Venter and his team successfully constructed the first ever cell controlled by a synthetic genome last year, they cleverly placed some playful watermarks in the genetic code to prove that the bacterial cell really was running the inserted, synthetic DNA. Using an alphabetic code based on DNA's four nitrogenous bases -- A, T, C, and G -- the team encoded the names of the collaborators, some HTML code, an email address, and famous quotes, including one from famed quantum physicist Feynman.

The Feynman quote that the researchers coded into the synthetic DNA read, "What I cannot build, I cannot understand." But that isn't quite right. The quote, which Feynman famously scrawled on a Caltech chalkboard just before his death in 1988, really read, "What I cannot create, I do not understand." After getting grief from all angles, including a note from Caltech with a photo of Feynman's chalkboard bearing the quote, Venter recently announced at a presentation during this month's annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, that his team will now go back into the synthetic cell's genome and correct the quote.

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Illusion said...

Build is the wrong word, it should be create. 

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