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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 09-Sep-18

 


Sunday 09-September-18

How to be famous: Gibson Assembly and the One-step isothermal invitero recombination method

I recently watched a TED talk by Dan Gibson on DNA printing. It was an amazing story of making DNA, one letter at a time. He said he called it the 'One-step isothermal invitero recombination method' (the title of his scientific paper on the method) but the scientific community just call it 'Gibson Assembly'. (Aside: his vocal patterns curiously resembles that of Stephen Hawking. Is this a case of unconscious hero-mirroring?).

Neat. He has achieved the secret dream of many scientists, to have your name built into something scientific. The classic route is scientific units, such as Volts, Roentgens, etc. But hey, DNA printing will do.

Another way to achieve name fame is to build a company with your name on the products, such as Dyson. Or maybe you could endow a university library or hospital with a spare few million, though this will not spread your name as far. We can also achieve name fame by other means. Go into politics. Become a rock star. Kill someone famous.

But why? Why do we go to such lengths to spread our name around? Why do we seek fame?

It's all about our sense of identity. Of who we are. When we see copies of ourselves (and our name is a good substitute) our sense of identity expands. We feel good. And inside identity is the principle of continuity, that we will somehow live forever. Maybe I should rename this website to include my name? Nah.

The classic way that many of us spread our names so we can live on is by having children. Again, it's a costly business, but the deep pleasure of seeing our genes spread is the reward evolution gives us. And, clever subverters that we are, we have found that our name is a good substitute.


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