I envision server gardens
I enjoy being around children because they are so unabashedly curious. Their world is still full of possibility and “Why?!” is an entirely appropriate response to everything.
For the past few weeks, I’ve had an idea that seems completely sci-fi and outlandish. I’m increasingly intrigued by the possibility of creating cybernetic plants capable of being programmed using a genetic language, possibly using synthetic genetic components to bridge the current divide between living and non-living components. I envision server gardens. As an “adult”, I’ve been quashing my inner child and trying my best to put the idea out of my head.
So when I came across io9’s Mad Scientist Contest (in which the participants are tasked with creating a new lifeform) a few days ago I was a bit excited. Here is a group of people from respected institutions actually encouraging unusual ideas like mine. And the prize? The winner will be shipped off – all expenses paid – to the Synthetic Biology Conference in Hong Kong. Supposedly to meet other folks who may also be professional daydreamers when it comes to biological possibility. Still, I quashed my idea.
However, this morning I saw Seed’s tear-outable cribsheet on synthetic biology and I’m starting to pay attention to my server garden concept. There seems to be a field called Synthetic Biology. In fact, there is a department at good ‘ol Cal called Bioengineering. I’m imagining K’Nex made of cytoskeletal components; mitotic spindles with nanotube scaffolding reorganized to form structures from simple shapes to complex circuit boards with electrical impulses translated into ion gradients and action potentials. Why not?