Big year, huh?
2010 is the year we finally start to hack the language of life. Craig Venter, Science Hero, has announced the first working synthetic genome.
Sure, Venter has already proven that he can create a synthetic strand of DNA, and re-jig a bacteria with the genes of another one. But he has never done both at the same time, and neither has anyone else.
What this means for all of us, is that we will be able to change and construct the very basis of biology.
By being able to make a genetic structure, we will be able to learn from 3.5 billion years of life to make better medicines, technology, foodstuffs, power production and, well everything.
Over the next decade, Venter and the legions of other scientists working in molecular biology will get us to a place where we start to play with genes.
And that's a good thing.
To understand how to manipulate/create life, Venter has sailed the world in his sloop, the Sorcerer II. Sampling ocean water for his Global Ocean Sampling Expedition, Venter has cataloged species not know to science. Venter has been sampling the surface, but beneath the waves there are continents of life yet to be discovered.
Last week I did a piece for the MotherCorp about seamounts.
Seamounts are those underwater mountains that heave from the ocean floor. Covered with a vast diversity of sponges, corals, fish, invertebrates, bacteria, and most other things, seamounts are oasis of the seas.
And although every one of them is unique and incredibly rich in unknown diversity, there are hundreds of thousands of them.
Last month, Dr. Peter Etnoyer of NOAA co-wrote a paper that added up all the area of seamounts, and found that they equal the size of a continent.
Take a listen.
Map of known seamounts, 2001.
Check out his pdf for a better look at seamounts