Scientist foresees lab-made alien species
2013-10-08 0:00

By Dan Satherley | 3 News

The scientist who led the effort to map the human genome says we’ll soon be able to use 3D printers to create alien life forms right here on Earth.

In his new book Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life, John Craig Venter says if a space probe encountered extra-terrestrial life, it wouldn’t necessarily need to bring it back to Earth for study.

"The day is not far off when we will be able to send a robotically controlled genome sequencing unit to other planets to read the DNA sequence of any alien microbe life that may be there," writes Dr Venter.

"If we can beam them back to Earth we should be able to reconstruct their genomes. The synthetic version of a Martian genome could then be used to recreate Martian life on Earth."

If this is possible, says Dr Venter, so is the reverse – alien societies could use printers to make synthetic human beings.

Another application of constructing life in the lab would be making synthetic biofuels and disease-resistant crops, as well as modifying human genes to extend lifespans and increase brainpower.

Dr Venter’s company was the first to create synthetic life, successfully implanting lab-made DNA into a bacterial cell and getting it to reproduce.

"My greatest fear is not the abuse of technology but that we will not use it at all," he writes in the book.

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READ: Life on Mars? Scientists hope to find it by decoding Martian DNA - ’We Can Rebuild Them’

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