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.