Concepts in science

By Juan R. González Álvarez

Synthetic science

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Juan R. González Álvarez
Juan R. González Álvarez
Synthetic science is related to the combination of two or more components to form a new system. This includes (i) the design and construction of new parts, devices, and complete systems, and (ii) the re-design of existing natural systems for useful purposes.

The term “synthetic” derives from the Greek “sunthetikos” meaning “skilled in putting together”, based on “suntithenai” meaning “to put together”. A traditional discipline of this branch of science is synthetic organic chemistry. A recent discipline is synthetic biology, which has as one of its objectives the design and construction of new biological functions and systems not found before in nature [1].
Image by Freepik
Image by Freepik
Synthetic science provides systems for the development of other disciplines such as analytical, fundamental, or engineering science, but it also depends on the advances provided by those. For example, new fundamental theories are applied to the design and optimization of new synthetic pathways.
Except in the more trivial cases, the synthesis require a number of steps [2]. Sometimes the term synthetic is used as a synonym for “artificial”, “not natural” or “false”. This is totally inappropriate; in the first place, nature also retorts to synthesis –nuclei, atoms, molecules, living cells, planets… everything has been synthesized since the Big Bang–; second, the molecules synthesized by chemists in the laboratory are indistinguishable from molecules found in nature.
REFERENCES AND NOTES
  1. Synthetic Biology Explained – BIO 2022 November 8 (access): https://archive.bio.org/articles/synthetic-biology-explained. Author not available.
  2. For example, the synthesis of the optically active natural product quassin –reported by Robert A. Watt in 1990– consists of 35 steps.
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Juan R. González Álvarez
Juan R. González Álvarez @juanrga

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