The Tower of Babel must have been build in the style of one of those Babylonian ziggurats with the spiraled ramps. I get that picture when I read about what scientists today are doing with the spirals of DNA.
From the “Washington Post” article Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms:
Scientists in Maryland have already built the world’s first entirely handcrafted chromosome — a large looping strand of DNA made from scratch in a laboratory, containing all the instructions a microbe needs to live and reproduce.
In the coming year, they hope to transplant it into a cell, where it is expected to “boot itself up,” like software downloaded from the Internet, and cajole the waiting cell to do its bidding. And while the first synthetic chromosome is a plagiarized version of a natural one, others that code for life forms that have never existed before are already under construction.The cobbling together of life from synthetic DNA, scientists and philosophers agree, will be a watershed event, blurring the line between biological and artificial — and forcing a rethinking of what it means for a thing to be alive.
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Today a scientist can write a long genetic program on a computer just as a maestro might compose a musical score, then use a synthesizer to convert that digital code into actual DNA. Experiments with “natural” DNA indicate that when a faux chromosome gets plopped into a cell, it will be able to direct the destruction of the cell’s old DNA and become its new “brain” — telling the cell to start making a valuable chemical, for example, or a medicine or a toxin, or a bio-based gasoline substitute.