Assessing the impact of Venter's 'synthetic life'
Building a life form in the laboratory - piece by piece from DNA building blocks - is as groundbreaking as it sounds.
And this is just what the American scientist, Dr Craig Venter, has announced on Thursday evening.
Dr Venter is the controversial scientist who famously developed a "short cut" for decoding the human genome a decade ago.
And the creation of his synthetic microbe is being compared with Dolly the sheep in genetics, and Microsoft's operating system in computing.
"Synthetic life" is new science and a new technology rolled into one.
The aim is to create a whole new biological toolkit - organisms with artificially added DNA instructing them to exude cleaner oils, or novel drugs or vaccines.
Dr Venter has been promising this for years, and now that he has succeeded we'll be hearing a lot about how he has "created life in the lab".
It's not quite that - not yet - but it's close.
Dr Venter and his team built "Synthia", as their new life form is nick-named by some, from snippets of DNA called "cassettes".
But he is still relying on a naturally-occurring microbe to act as a host - with its own DNA stripped out.
Don't misunderstand me. What Dr Venter has done is incredible science. I've already heard it described as Nobel prize-winning, "landmark", work.
But there is always an element of razzmatazz surrounding Dr Venter's research that makes it harder to sift fact from hype.
It will certainly raise the profile of a whole new field of science Synthetic Biology - less than decade old.
Filming at the Royal Society this morning - where coincidentally they were hosting a meeting on Synthetic Biology, a portrait of Charles Darwin gazed down the corridor towards the library.
I wondered what he would make of the discussion among a couple of dozen of today's brightest scientists and thinkers - gathered to ponder the latest in Synthetic Biology.
They are in no doubt that the potential is there for a new industrial revolution.
Dr Venter's microbe is just the start. Others will be inspired to build on it.
This is how Dr Venter sees his team's success: "This is an important step we think, both scientifically and philosophically. It's certainly changed my views of the definitions of life and how life works."
But just as Dr Venter unveiled his work, the critics lined up to call a halt.
There are calls for a moratorium until society can better understand the implications.
And even some of the scientists who work in the field have told me they worry that we lack the means to weigh up the risks such novel organisms might represent, once set loose in the real world.
They are by definition so new that we cannot simply compare them with the risky microbes and pathogens we know about.