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Hacking Nature

 
pollinator
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I couldn't find a thread on hacking nature, and I think it's important to keep track of this technology.

So what is nature hacking? It's basically where a bunch of people get together in their spare time and tinker with DNA to produce organisms that never existed.

Here is an example where nature hackers have tinkered with yeast to make it produce cows milk:
http://www.wired.com/2015/04/diy-biotech-vegan-cheese/
 
pollinator
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So basically, this is the same stuff that people have been doing for decades, but with a different title?

"Hacking" and "3D Printing" seem to be the buzzwords of the day. A decade ago when I was in grad school, "homeland security" was the new hotness people were latching onto for their proposals, and before that labeling your research "nano" was all the rage.
 
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I think by 'hacking nature' Nick means genetic modification, not backyard breeding.
 
John Wolfram
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Burra Maluca wrote:I think by 'hacking nature' Nick means genetic modification, not backyard breeding.


Genetic modification of organisms has been done for the last 40 something years.
 
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I think the reason it is now termed hacking is because the ability to practice genetic modification is getting closer and closer to being democratized which can be both a good and a bad thing. I personally am all for the open-source and R&D-I-Y movements because I think the atmospheres that people work in the open-source and DIY groups is more conducive to the creation of unique and useful ideas, products, etc.
 
pollinator
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You can mail order custom genomes. I have a friend working in biochem research who does just that with viruses.

Simply plug in your request, slap down a credit card and it arrives in the post a week later.
 
Nick Kitchener
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John Wolfram wrote:

Burra Maluca wrote:I think by 'hacking nature' Nick means genetic modification, not backyard breeding.


Genetic modification of organisms has been done for the last 40 something years.



Yes I do Burra. More specifically, genetic modification outside of academic of industrial research laboratories.
I'm aware genetic modification has been going on for some time, and realise that there was the potential for some scientist to literally set up a genetic modification lab in his basement, but I didn't realise that it was a relatively common past time.

So to be clear, the the term "hack" as used in this article comes from common usage in tech circles where "hack labs", or maker spaces are set up in a town. They are community spaces where members can go and tinker with computers, electronics and things like that. The movement was begun because people realised that as we become more urbanised, many people lose access to workshops, and tools to repair and build things.

Nature hacking is the same sort of deal, except that people aren't working on old TVs and playing with micro controllers. They're experimenting on biological systems and genetic modification.
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