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Venter's Double Whoops

Shortly after Craig Venter team's announced its creation of a self-replicating synthetic genome — in which famous quotes were encoded, including James Joyce's famed: "To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life," and Richard Feynman's utterance on understanding — Venter received a cease and desist letter and a surprising photograph. Forbes' David Ewalt says during a presentation this week at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, "Venter talked about two ways the landmark innovation went wrong." First, Joyce's estate sent Venter a letter informing him that he lacked permission to use Joyce's work. Then, Caltech sent Venter's team a photo of the blackboard on which Feynman had written his famous quote: "What I cannot create, I do not understand," which differed from the line the researchers inserted into their synthetic sequence. "We're going back to change the genetic code to correct it," Venter said at South by Southwest.

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