In February Radar ran a five party series on Synthetic biology and one of its thought-leaders, Drew Endy. If you enjoyed those articles then you’ll probably enjoy this contest. Annalee Newitz, the editor of my favorite sci-fi blog io9, is hosting a design your own lifeform contest. As she says about it:
io9 wants to encourage mad scientists in every field, but especially in the area of synthetic biology. That’s because synthetic biologists are the people who are going to build new life forms, like ligers and unicorns and people with claws and glowing eyes. OK, they might build bacteria that can clean up oil spills and repair damaged kidneys too. The point is, building new lifeforms is the science of the future and therefore you can never have too many garage laboratories and mad scientists devoted to it. That’s why io9 is sponsoring a contest to find two of the best synthetic life forms you can design for us. The winners in our two categories will get either an all-expenses-paid trip to the kickass Synthetic Biology Conference in Hong Kong this October, or $1000 and a chance to have their creature drawn by a cool comic book artist. Find out more below.
Our esteemed judges include synthetic biologist Drew Endy (MIT), evolutionary biologist and PLoS co-founder Michael Eisen (UC Berkeley), Spore game developer Jason Shankel (EA/Maxis), and biology researcher/io9 “ask a biogeek” columnist Terry Johnson (UC Berkeley).
If you want to go to Hong Kong and attend the awesome-sounding Synthetic Biology Conference in Hong Kong then build a fesible lifeform from biobricks. The second category is more blue-sky; shoot for plausible and science-fictional.
The ability to create new life is something that we’ll be looking at for ETech 2009. Hopefully some of the contest winners will offer to talk about their work at our conference.