06 September 2010

Craig Venter Aims to Replace the Entire Petrochemical Industry

“Designing and building synthetic cells will be the basis of a new industrial revolution,” Dr. Venter says. “The goal is to replace the entire petrochemical industry.” _NYT
Peak Oil will occur when humans no longer want to bother drilling into the ground to extract dark, gooey, messy liquids to turn into fuels. Instead, humans are slowly but surely developing other, more reliable and sustainable ways to fuel their industrial base and somewhat affluent lifestyles. Dieoff.orgiasts and other members of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement hate to see any alternatives to Peak Oil Doom, or any skepticism to the orthodoxy of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. But humans are innately a problem-solving and skeptical lot.

Craig Venter is one example of an unlikely problem solver. He was a poor student in his youth, and only after living through some harrowing experiences in Vietnam as a military medic was young Venter able to get his head on straight, and decide to do something with his life.
...Dr. Venter has a history of defying skeptics, and many people are betting that he will succeed this time as well. Dr. Walton, in fact, invested personally in Synthetic Genomics, and his venture firm, Oxford Bioscience Partners, recently wanted to sink a hefty sum into the company but was turned down when Dr. Venter found other investors offering better terms.

Exxon Mobil is giving Synthetic Genomics $300 million in research financing to design algae that could be used to produce gasoline and diesel fuel. (The new greenhouse will be used for that research.)

BP has invested in the company itself, turning to Synthetic Genomics to study microbes that might help turn coal deposits into cleaner-burning natural gas. Another investor, the Malaysian conglomerate Genting, wants to improve oil output from its palm tree plantations, working toward what its chief executive calls a “gasoline tree.”

...In the approach toward which Dr. Venter is driving, engineers would specify the entire genetic code of a cell — essentially the software that runs the cell — on computers, making design changes as if on a word processor. They would then press the “print” button, so to speak, and the DNA would be manufactured from its chemical components. The synthetic DNA would then be transplanted into an existing cell, where it would “boot up” and take control of the cell’s operations.

...Synthetic Genomics has about 130 employees. But much of its research, including the development of the synthetic cell, is done at the J. Craig Venter Institute. Synthetic Genomics pays for about 25 of the institute’s roughly 300 researchers, and has rights to their results. The rest of the institute’s funding comes mainly from federal grants and its endowment.... _NYT
Venter seems to love challenges and competitions. He lives to defy skeptics and to defeat rivals. And do you know the odd thing? The world is full of young Venters who have not yet -- and may never -- figured out what they want to do with their lives.

Pelted mercilessly with nightmarish predictions of doom and gloom, and instilled by governmenbt schools and indoctrinating universities with the futility of trying to fight their fate, hundreds of thousands of young Venters never amount to much -- when they might have done, given the right experiences in early life.

From an article published at Al Fin Energy

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Blogger kurt9 said...

I would like Venter to replace the entire pharmaceutical industry while he is at it.

If I can figure out a way to use nuclear energy and processes to extract any mineral we need from seawater, then we can replace the entire mining industry as well.

Monday, 06 September, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Synthetic biology is just getting started. Venter is something of a frontrunner, but there are a lot of others in the race. Once they start achieving some big wins, the money will begin to flow into the field from venture capitalists looking for the return of investment good times.

Hopefully Obama Pelosi will have been long gone by then, else it will be but a false dawn.

As for replacing the mining industry, figure out a way to get to the asteroid belt.

Monday, 06 September, 2010  
Blogger gtg723y said...

Not just the asteroid belt can you imagine what riches must lie in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud? But as far as I'm aware Voyager is just now entering the Oort cloud. If we manage to hang on just a little bit longer we could be just one or two inventions away from some very exciting advancements.

Wednesday, 08 September, 2010  
Blogger gtg723y said...

We luckily have the internet and Khan Academy. I just hope that we can trudge through and make it out of the economic slump without a lost decade. Perhaps our next president will have half a brain and will put a moratorium on the EPA and taxes for a couple of years. Could you imagine the boom we would have? And then afterwards a 15% flat tax will be initiated and the government will be forced to pay down the debt, and then the Mad Hatter will finally tell me how a raven is like a writing desk. Oh no I drifted off again didn't I? As long as we can remember what the door mouse said.

Wednesday, 08 September, 2010  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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