15 January 2018
200 years ago, Mary Shelley published her magnum opus Frankenstein. In honour of this literary milestone, Dutch quality newspaper The Volkskrant has interviewed three experts about creating life in the lab. One of them is BaSyc member Hub Zwart, a science philosopher at Radboud University in Nijmegen.
In the article, Zwart mentions being part of a research project with the aim of creating an artificial cell out of building blocks. ‘Such a research project stems from the 18th-century idea that you don’t understand anything until you make it or could make it. Knowledge is then literally the power to create.’
Building an artificial cell, Zwart explains, is easier said than done. ‘In the past, we have thought on a number of occasions that we knew how life works. First the proteins, then the genes, then dna: the reality turned out to be more complex than we thought. I wouldn’t be surprised if this project once again reveals a gap in our ideas about life.’
Zwart also talks about his role within the BaSyc project. He says that, as a philosopher, he constantly tries to distance himself from the project to think about the work that is being done, and whether or not that is something that we should really want to do.
Click here for the complete article.