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Can a human being be created by synthesizing chemicals, or by building artificial DNA, RNA, and genetic codes? Can human or animal organisms be created? If so, can they be made to interact in the same manner as they do in the natural forms?
These are some basic questions that is being increasing coming under the scrutiny of researchers in biology, medical fraternity, and others.
Aided by computer technology, which makes faster and more powerful computer every year, immense bioinformatic databases have been meticulously compiled by researchers all around the world. These databases include our knowledge of DNA, RNA, the Genetic Code, the various tissues, cellular biology, microbiology, the different ways cells interact with each other, how they grow, how the organism behaves when coming into contact with other organisms, among countless numbers of characteristics. Armed with this vast knowledgebase, some researchers are trying to find out if it is possible to create artificial life in the laboratory.
Using the latest developments in chemistry, scientists have had some success in marking up some of the organisms in a manner as to accelerate specific processes or by binding them from working organisms. This research has also led to treatments of various ailments. With these developments in the field, interest in the possibilities of creating artificial life has continued to grow.
With the help of computing power, these researchers are now trying to compile whole sets and subsets of organisms along with cellular material to create synthetic organisms. Their aim is also to inculcate in them the same properties that are exhibited by normal biological specimens. Researchers are trying to simulate building these organisms by binding the artificial and normal samples together on a computing system (otherwise known as artificial life).
There are very many controversies regarding this subject. Some feel that one is tampering with nature, as one may be creating clones. Others feel that it is human nature to inquire, and that such arguments against research militate against the potential of the human mind and so on.
Studies continue on trying to create artificial life. The biological diversity of a human body is so huge and so intricate, that only some developments have taken place, but as yet, none are anywhere near signs of completion. The brain in particular is complex. As it is supposed to control the biology of the body, there have been no attempts so far in any scientist mapping it out completely. This is likely due to in the sense that apart from its structure (which everyone knows now) nobody knows what causes it to act and react in any certain manner. This is where scientists have yet to gain full knowledge, and is thus covered under the garb of fuzzy logic. Fuzzy logic is simply how the human body or any other organism reacts differently at different times to various stimuli. Note the key word differently. One day, you may swerve from an object coming at you, and on another day you might sight the object and step aside. On yet another occasion, you might confront it and meet it head on! It is yet to be completely understood what sponsors these reactions and the chemicals released to control these triggers can affect your behavior in this fashion.
Yes, artificial life has made strides, but it has been restricted to making synthetic organisms which only mimic the real organism. It has also been beneficial by helping control diseases.
But to put together the mass of biological organisms which are each a complex body, their intricate mechanism of controls, transmissions of data, their metamorphosing, their standing aside, and their reactions to another remote signal are yet be fully deciphered.
One example should show how complex it is. When you step out into the hot sunshine, after a period of time, you start sweating. Why? The skin is acting as the covering, which senses that the heat is such that it might damage some of the vital organs of the body. It acts as the first warning signal, triggered by the immune system of your body. This causes the skin to open its pores and bring water stored in the body out, allowing it to evaporate, leaving your skin a little less heated! Or, it makes you thirsty. Why? What is that trigger in the body that tells your brain that you need to replenish your water table?
These are questions that artificial life has yet to find answers to.