Time’s Person of the Year

Who will it be?  You’ve got a curious mix of political movers and shakers (Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Gates, Arne Duncan, David Cameron, Hamid Karzai, Hu Jintao, etc.), cultural heavyweights (Jonathan Franzen, Lady Gaga, Tiger Woods, LeBron James, etc.), tech peeps like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, then they toss a bone and nominate Julian Assange, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert, The Chilean Miners, the Unemployed American.

My money is on J. Craig Venter.  Not that I think he’ll win (he won’t), but because what he and his institute are doing is absolutely astounding.

This year Venter and his team at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit genomic-research organization, announced in the journal Science that they had created the very first synthetic life-form, by creating DNA using chemicals in a lab and inserting it into a living bacterium.

The feat itself is astounding — an age-old science-fiction plot come true — but perhaps just as astounding are the possibilities it suggests, such as tailor-made species that could produce mass amounts of food or biofuel.

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