Synthetic life and corn starch babies

How close are we to truly playing Dr. Frankenstein and creating life from scratch? Watch this video to the end to find out. It starts off pretty tame, but stick with it. The ending is the most profoundly disturbing tub of damp cornstarch you will ever meet. Wet cornstarch is weird stuff. Even without divine intervention, you can run across a vat of the stuff without sinking. But if you stand on it, you’ll sink like a rock. And if you shake it at a high frequency, well… take a look.

In all seriousness, a lot of people are trying to create a living thing of some sort from scratch. I came across this cornstarch video and a summary of recent artificial life research at Biocurious, a biology blog written by physicists.

2 thoughts on “Synthetic life and corn starch babies”

  1. Oobleck! It was one of my favorite party toys in college. Dump a box of cornstarch in a mixing bowl and start dripping in water while mixing by hand. Add the water very slowly, as too much will prevent the cornstarch from “locking” under pressure. Mixing by hand works best.

    You’ll know when you have the right amount of water when the cornstarch starts to resist being prodded by fingers. Once you reach that point, you can dig a clawed hand in and literally tear a piece out and hold it in your hand, so long as you keep passing it back and force, keeping pressure on it to keep it “solid”.

    Dropping it or no longer applying pressure will allow it to flow like thick fluid out of your hand.

    Very cool (if messy) fun. Allow any spills to dry completely and then rub with a brush to break up and vacuum away the cornstarch.

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