Saturday, January 12, 2013

Scientific American’s list of 10 ideas about to change the world

By  | November 18, 2012
Scientific American recently came out with its top 10 list of world-changing ideas.
How does the magazine define world-changing? After all, it would be world-changing if you could eradicate world poverty by chanting, “bippity-boppity-boo,” but not particularly realistic. The editors say:
These are not pie-in-the-sky notions but practical breakthroughs that have been proved or prototyped and are poised to scale up greatly. Each has the potential to make what may now seem impossible possible.
Let’s see what ideas are on the verge of transforming our world:

1. Artificial organisms made from man-made molecules

Forget DNA. We might be able to create life from a set of molecules from XNAs that have the same double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribonucleic acid (RNA). XNA stands for xeno nucleic acid, xeno meaning “foreign.” What makes XNA special is that scientists can create enzymes that enable them to evolve, so XNA can become better at a task, such as attaching itself to a protein.
SciAm says that:
“The fact that XNA is complementary to DNA, yet structurally unique, makes it immediately useful for medicine, biotechnology and biology research. Holliger imagines XNAs that could be injected into the human body to detect early, subtle signs of disease that current technologies miss.

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