In BioShock, Andrew Ryan had a dream: “No Gods or Kings. Only Man.” And from this dream, the underwater city of Rapture was born. A place where people could escape the grasps of government and social guidelines. A place where people could become whoever it is they most wanted to be. You see, in Rapture, a thing called “plasmids” exist, and these plasmids can rewrite your genetic code to give you abilities beyond your wildest dreams. It all sounded too good to be true, and, unfortunately, it ultimately was.
But that’s just science fiction. We live in reality, of course.
Researchers at Cambridge University have successfully taken a nematode worm, and expanded its genetic code. In a living organism, there is 20 amino acids which are assembled in various combinations to make thousands and thousands of proteins. These protein molecules are required to sustain an organism’s life. Sebastian Greiss and Jason Chin took this nematode worm, and redesigned its genetic code to include a 21st amino acid, which is found nowhere else in nature.
Seeing as how it’s just a worm the breakthrough may appear minimal, but Chin calls it “potentially transformational” and it’s said that this could lead to biologists having “atom-by-atom control” of the molecules in living organisms.
It’s only a small step, but it would also appear that it’s one step closer to Rapture becoming a scary reality.