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Technical and biological systems: how different they are?

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Synthetic life, defined as life that did not arise from preexisting life, spontaneously emerged when the first cell-like structures assembled from mixtures of organic molecules on the early Earth. These structures, referred to as protocells, exhibited certain properties of living systems and represented evolutionary steps toward the first forms of cellular life. 

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Forget the microscopes. Gene sequencers, microarrays and mass spectrometers are the tools of the trade for today's biologists. Huge advances in technology and computing have revolutionized the field, and instead of breaking living things down into smaller and smaller parts, biologists are looking at the systems that make up living things, reaching out to other disciplines, and trying to get a grip on the eternal mystery: what, exactly, is life? There's been a paradigm shift in the science of life, and it's called systems biology.

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Isotopic labeling is a technique for tracking the passage of a sample of substance through a system. The substance is 'labeled' by including unusual isotopes in its chemical composition. One or more of the atoms of the molecule of interest is substituted for an atom of the same chemical element, but of a different isotope.

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Chromatography is a physical method based on separation of the components by distribution between two phases, one of which is stationary (stationary phase) while the other (the mobile phase) moves in a definite direction. Quantitative chromatography is used to determine the concentration of analytes in a sample. The components is identified by its retention time and concentration calculated from intensity of detector signal. (In optimal system the signal is proportional to the concentration of the specific analyte separated).