Synthetic Life’s Cute Face

I don’t want to read too too much into this… but I was struck by the image accompanying a decent amount of the online coverage of Craig Ventner et al’s synthetic cell that’s been global front-page news over the last week. Artificial life tends to spook people — not give them the warm fuzzies. And yet this cartoony photo is warm, fuzzy, even cute! Was it a deliberate choice to include this photo in the Science magazine article released by the team of biologists?  They are business people too, and they have an interest in making their news accessible/human/soft/unscary to lay people (regulators and donors are often lay people as well) — so a human touch (even a subconscious one — in the form of perceived doe-eyes and mouth) is valuable.

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