Synthetic Nature

Two of the most beautiful things in science are the Periodic Table and the DNA molecule.

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This month –

C. Dullmann et al, Darmstadt, Phys.Rev.Lett., have synthesised the new Element 117,

193d77e0-d5e6-11e3-af97-4d6ee21e74d1_ununseptium1   created by bombarding berkelium

This is the heaviest of the Super Heavy Elements in the Periodic Table with 117 protons in each atom’s nucleus. None of them occur in nature and they are all unstable, usually decaying in nanoseconds.

 

F.Romesberg et al, Scripps Institute, Nature Online May 7, have cultured  a semi-synthetic bacterium with an extended genetic code. As well as the four natural bases A-T and C-G this has two synthetic ones, X-Y.

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This extended DNA alphabet might be used to encode new protein-like substances from synthetic amino acids. These may have applications to make new drugs and plastics