The Loom

New Life For Old

Jack Szostak, a scientist at Harvard Medical School, is trying to build a new kind of life. It will contain no DNA or proteins. Instead, it will based on RNA, a surprisingly mysterious molecule essential to our own cells. Szostak may reach his goal in a few years. But his creatures wouldn’t be entirely new. It’s likely that RNA-based life was the first life to exist on Earth, some 4 billion years ago, eventually giving rise to the DNA-based life we know. It just took a clever species like our own to recreate it.

My cover story in the June issue of Discover has all the details.


  1. #1 Roy Sablosky
    May 4, 2004

    Holy smoke. I don’t know what else to say, but I have to say something! Thanks, Carl. This is f***ing fantastic stuff. It’s like I keep telling people — it’s taken us a million years to get to this point, and we are turning the corner RIGHT NOW. Welcome to the next million years.

  2. #2 steve
    May 4, 2004

    though I’ve been in science for a few years now, I continue to be shocked at the rapid rate of progress now. Elsewhere I read of success in regrowing mice teeth from stem cells, and upcoming human trials. Mindblowing. And we owe all this progress and insight to the hard work and deep thinking of creationists. AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! Neandertals.

  3. #3 Peter Hankins
    May 21, 2004

    Could nannobacteria be the sort of thing we’re considering here? Or am I over-eager to make connections?

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