Synthesising The

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In the 1850s Huxley claimed that this protoplasm was the organic slime in which tiny marine organisms seemed to be embedded on the sea floor, made up of only carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen.

This stuff turned out to be an artifact of reactions involving the alcohol used to preserve specimens, but Huxley’s idea that the properties of living matter ‘result from the nature and disposition of its molecules’ has become the orthodox view of a material conception of life.

To place the process of synthesising the research literature into context, the article explores the critiquing process by breaking it down into seven sequential steps.

The article explains how and why these steps need to be kept in mind if a robust comprehensive literature search and analysis are to be achieved.

It’s tempting to portray this as a ‘chemical synthesis of a human being’ – which connects Church’s ambitions to the hubris most famously explored in Mary Shelley’s (Aldous was Thomas’s grandson).

With such emotive associations, any hint of secrecy easily arouses suspicions of mad scientists plotting something diabolical.The real question is whether it’s worth the effort and cost. They argue that various benefits might stem from writing a human genome, such as improved resistance to viruses, cancer and prion diseases, and production of stem-cell lines for regenerative medicine.These are attractive goals – but it’s not yet clear that this is the best way to achieve them.We need this perspective to approach the proposal by George Church of Harvard University, US, and colleagues for a ‘Human Genome Project–Write’ (HGP–Write); the original Human Genome Project being HGP–Read.Church aims to build a complete human genome from scratch, using the clever synthetic chemistry now routinely used to make much shorter stretches of DNA with specified sequences.If the HGP–Write project is successful (it hopes to launch this year with 0 million support from private, public and philanthropic sources), it could be interpreted as the synthesis of human life. To invest that much meaning and significance in the genome is a fallacy.Life is a process, not a molecule, and it needs much more than a strand of DNA.We use cookies to make interactions with our website easy and meaningful, to better understand the use of our services, and to tailor advertising.For further information, including about cookie settings, please read our Cookie Policy .To learn more or modify/prevent the use of cookies, see our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.This article examines how to synthesise and critique research literature.


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