Friday, April 03, 2009

Adam and Eve Rediscover The Gene

Is this the end of experimenting on animals?

ADAM is a "robot scientist" researchers believe to be the first machine to independently come up with new scientific findings. While we've become accustomed to robots built to repeat a given task many times over, scientists at Aberystwyth University in Wales and the U.K's University of Cambridge designed Adam to take a more human approach to scientific inquiry. And while it may not win the Nobel Prize for physics just yet, Adam appears to be doing impressively well for a young scientist, carrying out scientific research automatically, without the need for further human intervention.

As reported in the latest issue of the journal Science, Adam autonomously hypothesized that certain genes in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae code for enzymes that catalyze some of the microorganism's biochemical reactions. The yeast is noteworthy, as scientists use it to model more complex life systems.

Adam then devised experiments to test its prediction, ran the experiments using laboratory robotics, interpreted the results, and used those findings to revise its original hypothesis and test it out further. The researchers used their own separate experiments to confirm that Adam's hypotheses were both novel and correct--all the while probably wondering how soon they'd become obsolete. CNET