Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Aliens Invade East Lansing

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerJanuary 9, 2005 2:22 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Not long ago I had a remarkable experience: I got to visit the nursery for what might prove to be a new form of life. At Michigan State University, a group of computer scientists, biologists, and philosophers run the Digital Evolution Laboratory. There, they are developing software called Avida which allows them to create virtual worlds swarming with digital organisms. Avida's residents show a lot of the important features that scientists consider essential requirements for life. Their evolution is particularly impressive, because it parallels evolution in the wet world in all sorts of subtle ways. And because you can run through a hundred thousand generations in a matter of hours, the Avida team can carry out experiments on some of the most important aspects of evolution that biologists could previously only study by looking at the natural world.

For more details, you can read my cover story in the February issue of Discover.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In