Mediated Matter at the MIT Media Lab

Few things have managed to capture the imagination of hackers and engineers around the world the way Synthetic Biology did over the last couple of years. The promise of “applying engineering principles to designing new biological devices and systems” just seemed way too sci-fi to missed out on, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. All of a sudden, the field which used to be restricted to traditional research organizations and startups found itself crowded with all sorts of enthusiasts, biohackers, and weirdos alike. Competitions such as the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) paved the way, and the emergence of community spaces like GenSpace and BioCurious finally made DNA experimentation accessible to anyone who dares to try. As it often happens, the Sci-Fi itself did not go untouched, and a whole new genre called “Biopunk” emerged, further fueling people’s imagination and extrapolating worlds to come.

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io9’s Build a Lifeform contest

There’s still time to enter io9’s Build a Lifeform contest. Synthetic biologists, get cracking on the design of that synthetic lifeform or BioBricks lifeform! The rules are pretty straightforward; you need to propose a lifeform design that would be scientifically viable. The BioBricks lifeform part of the contest requires that your design needs to not only be scientifically viable, you have to explain how you would create it in a lab, and you get extra points if you already have an organism. The deadline is August 25, 2008. You could win the opportunity to attend an all-expenses-paid trip to the Synthetic Biology Conference in Hong Kong or $1000 and a chance to get your creature drawn by a cool comic book artist.