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article imageBiology week produces a range of interest events

By Tim Sandle     Oct 17, 2015 in Science
London - This week, in the U.K., ‘biology week’, supported by the Royal Society of Biology, has been taking place. Central to the week has been a discussion on synthetic biology.
Biology week is now in its fourth year. The objective is to promote bioscience in the U.K. and around the world.
Commenting on the activities, Dr. Mark Downs, chief executive of the Royal Society of Biology, enthused: “Biology affects us all: it is the science of life. Whether it is sustainable agriculture, new medicines or maintaining our environment and diverse habitats, to name but a few, biology has a critical role to play.”
The week, running from October 10 to 18, has been made up of 50 public events. This has included dinosaur digs to wildlife walks, lectures, debates, and open days. The Society has been keen to engage with schools and further education institutions. This has included various quizzes with prizes.
The central debate of the week has been a series of lectures and discussion around synthetic biology. The event was titled “Synthetic life: how far could it go? How far should it go?”
Synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary branch of biology. It brings core biology together with the applied branches of biotechnology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, and systems biology together with biophysics, computer engineering, and genetic engineering.
The new discipline, sometimes abbreviated to SynBio, is concerned with two central things:
The design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and
The re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes.
Synthetic biology is a relatively new technology and it could, if taken to the nth degree, have massive impact. At the debate, an expert panel of experts discussed the process of designing and building new life forms and the ethical challenges this poses.
The Society is also set to announce the winner of Britain’s favourite insect. The poll was featured earlier in the year by Digital Journal. The featured insects, together with their signature monikers, are:
The Divine Messenger - Seven-spot Ladybird
The Woolly Bear - Garden Tiger Moth
The House Sitter - Small Tortoiseshell
The Socialite - Black Garden Ant
The Bee's Knees - Buff-tailed Bumblebee
The Impersonator - Large Bee-fly
The Gardener's Friend - Marmalade Hoverfly
Kicking up a stink - Green Shieldbug
The Big Daddy - Stag Beetle
Lord of the Skies - Emperor Dragonfly
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