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The June 4 issue of Newsweek features a provocative essay by molecular biologist Lee Silver on the maverick field of synthetic biology.

Silver surveys the work of a number of researchers in synthetic biology. “SynBio engineers think they can take what we know [about living organisms] and design and construct novel forms of life that are programmed to do practical things that couldn’t otherwise be done,” he writes.

One of the researchers Silver writes about is his Princeton colleague Ron Weiss, an associate professor of electrical engineering. “We can now regard cells as ‘programmable matter,’ ” he quotes Weiss as saying. Weiss goes on to predict that soon we will be able to “program cell behaviors as easily as we program computers.”

Silver and Weiss both participated in a recent forum on genomics, health information, and ethics.

Image: Ron Weiss

 
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