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  Dalai Lama Formally Installed As Professor In US UniversityOctober 22, 2007 10:08 The Dalai Lama was formally installed Monday in his first teaching professorship at a U.S. university, where he encouraged students, faculty, staff and community members to look beyond money and fame for happiness.

Education paired with destructive behavior is wasted, but knowledge used for good is a powerful instrument, the Dalai Lama said in his first speech as an official member of the faculty at Emory University.

"As a professor of this university, I think you should listen to me," he said, laughing.

At a formal ceremony in Emory's gymnasium, students presented the 72-year-old exiled Tibetan spiritual leader with a faculty identity card.

"I suspect you will not need to carry this with you for identification, but in any case, we wanted you to know you are welcome," said student Emily Allen as she handed him the card.

 
  Discovery: Complex Mission Ahead, But Shuttle Crew ReadyOctober 22, 2007 06:50 The crew of the space shuttle Discovery is set for an ambitious remodeling mission to the international space station this week, hoping to take in stride the risks and surprises that lately seem inevitable.

On missions this year, two shuttle crews forged success but weathered significant problems: an ill-timed outage of Russian computers aboard the station that threatened to send the orbital base spinning out of control and a gouge under a wing that briefly raised the specter of the 2003 shuttle Columbia tragedy.

"I think we understand the complexity of what we are attempting to do," said Discovery commander Pam Melroy, a former Air Force test pilot who becomes the second woman to lead a shuttle mission. "What I worry about are the things we did not plan for. That is the motto of test pilots: plan for everything because the thing you didn't plan for is the thing that will happen."

The motto sounds right for Discovery's 14-day mission, which is scheduled to get under way with liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center scheduled for Tuesday at 10:38 a.m. CDT.

Dominated by hardware from the United States, Russia and Canada, the station is in the earliest stages of a transformation into a more global enclave with the addition of European and Japanese science modules.

However, the 220-mile-high compound will not be ready for the bus-sized labs without the handiwork of Discovery's seven astronauts. The blueprints call for the delivery and installation of a prefabricated gateway module called Harmony that will link the station's oldest segments to the new labs, and the unprecedented relocation of an 18-ton solar power module.
  I Am Creating Artificial Life, Declares Us Gene PioneerOctober 07, 2007 08:19 Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth.

The announcement, which is expected within weeks and could come as early as Monday at the annual meeting of his scientific institute in San Diego, California, will herald a giant leap forward in the development of designer genomes. It is certain to provoke heated debate about the ethics of creating new species and could unlock the door to new energy sources and techniques to combat global warming.

Mr Venter told the Guardian he thought this landmark would be "a very important philosophical step in the history of our species. We are going from reading our genetic code to the ability to write it. That gives us the hypothetical ability to do things never contemplated before".

The Guardian can reveal that a team of 20 top scientists assembled by Mr Venter, led by the Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith, has already constructed a synthetic chromosome, a feat of virtuoso bio-engineering never previously achieved. Using lab-made chemicals, they have painstakingly stitched together a chromosome that is 381 genes long and contains 580,000 base pairs of genetic code.

The DNA sequence is based on the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium which the team pared down to the bare essentials needed to support life, removing a fifth of its genetic make-up. The wholly synthetically reconstructed chromosome, which the team have christened Mycoplasma laboratorium, has been watermarked with inks for easy recognition.

It is then transplanted into a living bacterial cell and in the final stage of the process it is expected to take control of the cell and in effect become a new life form. The team of scientists has already successfully transplanted the genome of one type of bacterium into the cell of another, effectively changing the cell's species. Mr Venter said he was "100% confident" the same technique would work for the artificially created chromosome.

The new life form will depend for its ability to replicate itself and metabolise on the molecular machinery of the cell into which it has been injected, and in that sense it will not be a wholly synthetic life form. However, its DNA will be artificial, and it is the DNA that controls the cell and is credited with being the building block of life.

Mr Venter said he had carried out an ethical review before completing the experiment. "We feel that this is good science," he said. He has further heightened the controversy surrounding his potential breakthrough by applying for a patent for the synthetic bacterium.