This Gross Thing Could Be The Key To A New Technological Future

Look at this thing. It looks like something you would find in a clogged drain after not cleaning it for a decade. But as gross as it looks, it may be the key to our technological future.

It's a living sponge. Or something like that. But it's alive. Kind of. This deformed ball is a mass of artificial cells, created from genetically engineered marine sponges. The synthetic cells have a plastic nucleus coated by a bubble of oil that acts as a cell membrane. Inside the cell there's a piece of DNA made from a random combination of silica-forming proteins that has randomly mutated.

Depending on the kind of original material used, the artificial cells produce different substances. Some create new structures of silicon dioxide, which could be used in future chips. Some other balls form new types of fibreglass, and even magnetic nanoparticles.

Scientists are using genetics because they want to use the rules of evolution to obtain completely new materials that would be perfect for current and future, unknown technologies. According to scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, "this approach will begin to allow the same DNA-based evolutionary processes that have created seashells and skeletons to be harnessed to advance human technologies."

That could be huge, as evolution is a powerful force that can push materials into places that we can't even imagine. [Ars Technica]


Comments

    Is this the precursor to a giant mutated vomit taking over a major US city?

    This looks like the precursor to a whole new technology. Self building houses... the possibilities are endless.

    I am trapper keeper!!

    So... is this what could actually be termed as an artificial life form? If so that's amazing.

    ahhh shit!! the only reason i clicked on this page was i thought it might be the new iphone

    reminds me of alien

    Bi-Tek. Peter F. Hamilton called it more than a decade ago.

      Ahh another fan of Hamilton.. the man is a genius... :)

        Agreed. The man's brain should be preserved upon his (eventual, unfortunate) death like Phar Lap's heart.

    This truly can lead to amazing things, new stronger fibers that provide more insulation against heat and radiation, how about another sponge capable of safely absorbing and storing nuclear waste. We could see something that can be mixed into the car manufacturing process to far-cheapen it, or even make a new cheap fuel. Hell, maybe even new sex toys!

    Either way, might just be getting my hopes up too far.

    Could be the basis for the iPhone 6. Quick patent it!

    Artefacts from The Zone?

    Looks like something that came out of a drain in a girl's shower... hair and gunk!

    "Inside the cell there’s a piece of DNA made from a random combination of silica-forming proteins[...]" Yeah, no. DNA ain't made from protein, and that picture is of an actual sponge, not the very cool synthetic system. Please be careful when re-posting articles and PLEASE provide a link to the ORIGINAL article (maybe even take the time to read it).

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