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Scientists are one step closer to creating artificial life

Published Mar 13th, 2024 1:25PM EDT
scientists examines unknown bacteria
Image: Rafe Swan / Getty Images

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The evolution of life on Earth is a highly theorized thing. While there are many theories as to how life came to be on our little blue marble, some believe that it all came about because RNA spontaneously began to replicate itself. It’s a pretty controversial theory, as far as they go, but now scientists say they have replicated part of the process, bringing us closer to lab-created life.

According to an interview with the Washington Post, scientists say that they have created an RNA molecule capable of making copies of other types of RNA. The move, the researchers say, put us closer than ever to replication of the conditions for early life on Earth within a lab.

This is, of course, a big step towards successfully making lab-created life. The entire process is based on a crazy theory that before DNA or proteins existed, RNA existed as the first ingredient of our world’s “primordial soup.” From there, the RNA replicated itself and eventually evolved into the DNA and proteins that are now the building blocks of life as we know it.

Earth in spaceImage source: Tryfonov / Adobe

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies are leading the research. The team there has completed a very important step in proving this hair-brained theory is correct, and the lab-created RNA that they’ve developed is actually capable of making accurate copies of other types of RNA.

These findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and it gets the researchers closer than ever to proving creating life in the lab via an RNA molecule capable of replicating itself and eventually creating DNA and proteins. Gerald Joyce, the president of Salk and one of the authors of the new study, says that this shows how life can arise anywhere in the universe.

Of course, the research is still a long way from showing that this is definitively how life on Earth began. That’s a long-argued topic that isn’t likely to be settled anytime soon. But, the creation of RNA that can accurately replicate itself and other RNA molecules is a huge step in giving scientists the opportunity to play god by building lab-created life from the ground up.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.