On BioScience and Life and Such

Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Quote of the month April 09

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2009 at 7:39 am
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Image via Wikipedia

From this friendfeed discussion:

is tea the old coffee?

Paulo Nuin, Brasilian (connaiseur of coffee ?) and author of The Blind Scientist.

This should make him happy.

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Retraction. I have seen a nanobot, it’s a bacteria

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2009 at 8:51 am

post to news.thinkgene.com

I wrote this previous post complaining that I had not seen biomedical nanobots in spite of predictions from prominent futurists.

A retraction is in place since I just read that a research group had succeeded in remote controlling  bacteria  to go in any desired direction (via H+ magazine, p 12):

To do this, Martel used bacteria that naturally contain magnetic particles. In nature, these particles help the bacteria navigate toward deeper water, away from oxygen. “Those nanoparticles form a chain a bit like a magnetic compass needle,” says Martel. But by changing the surrounding magnetic field using an extended set-up coupled to an MRI machine, Martel and his colleagues were able to make the bacteria propel themselves in any direction they wanted. -from here

How you control a (magnetizised) bacteria with MRI, is beyond me, but I guess this can count as a proof of principle nevertheless.

The medical-nanobot scenario just became much more likely.

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Quote-fest 0409

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

H+ magazine special edition. All quotes below taken from the spring issue of H+ magazine.


1. From Ru Sirius on p.9:

If you embrace these [bio-progressive] rights, expect heavy resistance, because you will find yourself in for a territorial pissing match with most of the leading religions. Religions have traditionally ruled over the “seed” issues – issues around conception, death, the body, self-definition, gender and sexuality. But given the intrusive potentials of advancing technologies, this is a discussion we need to start having now.

2. from Moira A. Gunn on p.27:

….we need to create all this data to figure out who we humans are and how we tick. But unfortunately, we don’t know what data we need for what, and what — in the end — will prove useful. We are still shooting in the dark.

3. From Vernor Vinge on p.31:

The fundamental change that may be taking place humans may not be best characterized as the tool-creating animal but as the only animal that has figured out how to outsource its cognition — how to spread its cognitive abilities into the outside world.

4 + 5. From Alex Lightman on p.33:

If companies are living people, the drop in life expectancy for companies is comparable only to the fastest dying country in the world that is not at war — zimbabwe, where life expectancy has fallen from 60 in 1990 to 34 today.

The moral of the story is that, for those of us in our forties and up, we need to redouble our efforts at birthing problem solving technologies, and we need to make the future happen now or never (at least within the lifetimes of adults in 2008). or we better hope that Vernor Vinge is right and that the Singularity doesn’t require anything close to a healthy economy, in which case those smarter than-us bots can take charge and knock off all of our problems like ducks in a row.

6. From Douglas Rushkoff on p.37:

The way out — as I see it — is to begin making our own money again. I’m not talking barter, but local currency. Money is just an agreement. And the more a community trusts one another, the more effi ciently the moneys they develop can function. We can create units of currency based on anything; if we don’t have grain, we can earn it into existence instead by babysitting, taking care of the elderly, or teaching in a charter school. every hour worked is an “hour” of currency credited to your account.

7. From Jason Stoddard on p. 38:

Let’s be clear on this. We’re not going to wake up in a magical world where iPods and McMansions grow on trees overnight. Before that can happen, every part of today’s value chain has to be overturned. Everything. Production of raw materials, transport and refining, design and engineering, manufacturing, distribution . . . even our own sense of worth.

And there are plenty more. The magazine is highly recommended reading.