February 03, 2005

From Popular Science

Life Built to Order

Michael Stroh
Feb 2005

One morning last fall, a dozen or so government scientists shuffle into a small conference room on the sprawling grounds of Los Alamos National Laboratory to kick off an unusual research project. The room, tucked away in the basement of an old physics building known as SM-40, has paint-flaked cinderblock walls and a tangle of exposed plumbing overhead. The only decorative touch, a cheap potted floor plant, is slumped half-dead in the corner. Eventually a tall man with a sculpted Scandinavian jawline hurries in. Steen Rasmussen apologizes for running late. He shakes a few hands and then cues the team?s lead chemist, Liaohai Chen, to begin. Someone flips off the lights, and a PowerPoint slide flashes onto a projector screen.

The slide reads: "We are not crazy."

For an instant the scientists seem unsure how to react. Some laugh, others look uneasy. And who could blame them? Los Alamos, famed birthplace of the atomic bomb, has just awarded Rasmussen nearly $5 million to attempt an experiment as bold as the one that drew scientists to this pine-dotted New Mexico mesa back in the 1940s: He intends to create a brand-new life-form.

If any scientific enterprise demands a sanity
check at the outset, surely this is it
Posted by Hello

I know you'll want to read the rest of the story here.

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