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Latest news on complex systems in life sciences, engineering, education and government
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First CRISPR Gene Drive in Mosquitoes Aims to Eradicate Malaria

First CRISPR Gene Drive in Mosquitoes Aims to Eradicate Malaria | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
The students in Anthony James’s basement insectary at the University of California, Irvine, knew they’d broken the laws of evolution when they looked at the mosquitoes’ eyes.

By rights, the bugs, born from fathers with fluorescent red eyes and mothers with normal ones, should have come out only about half red. Instead, as they counted them, first a few and then by the hundreds, they found 99 percent had glowing eyes.

More important than the eye color is that James’s mosquitoes also carry genes that stop the malaria parasite from growing. If these insects were ever released in the wild, their “selfish” genetic cargo would spread inexorably through mosquito populations, and potentially stop the transmission of malaria.

The technology, called a “gene drive,” was built using the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR and is being reported by James, a specialist in mosquito biology, and a half dozen colleagues today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A functioning gene drive in mosquitoes has been anticipated for more than a decade by public health organizations as a revolutionary novel way to fight malaria. Now that it’s a reality, however, the work raises questions over whether the technology is safe enough to ever be released into the wild.

“This is a major advance because it shows that gene drives will likely be effective in mosquitoes,” says Kevin Esvelt, a gene drive researcher at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute. “Technology is no longer the limitation.”

Starting last summer, Esvelt and other scientists began warning that gene drives were about to jump from theory to reality (see “Protect Society from Our Inventions, Says Genome Editing Scientists”) and needed more attention by regulators and the public. The National Academy of Sciences is studying the science and ethics of the technology and plans to release recommendations next year on “responsible conduct” by scientists and companies.

Gene drives are just the latest example of the fantastic power of CRISPR editing to alter the DNA of living things, which has already set off a debate over the possibility that gene editing could be used to generate designer human babies (see “Engineering the Perfect Baby”). But Henry Greely, a law professor and bioethics specialist at Stanford, says environmental uses are more worrisome than a few modified people. “The possibility of remaking the biosphere is enormously significant, and a lot closer to realization,” he says.

Malaria is caused when a mosquito bite transmits plasmodium, a single-celled parasite. It’s treatable, yet every year, 670,000 people die from malaria, the majority of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

James says his mosquitoes are the culmination of decades of mostly obscure, unheralded work by a few insect specialists toward constructing a genetic solution to malaria. It finally became possible this year when scientists in the laboratory of Ethan Bier, a fly biologist at the University of California, San Diego, who is a coauthor of the paper, finally used CRISPR to perfect a molecular “motor” that could allow the anti-malaria genes to spread.

The mosquitoes have two important genetic additions. One is genes that manufacture antibodies whenever a female mosquito has a “blood meal.” Those antibodies bind to the parasite’s surface and halt its development. Yet normally, such an engineered mosquito would pass the genes only to exactly half its offspring, since there’s a 50 percent chance any chunk of DNA would come from its mate. And since the new genes probably don’t help a mosquito much, they’d quickly peter out in the wild.

That’s where CRISPR comes in. In a gene drive, components of the CRISPR system are added such that any normal gene gets edited and the genetic cargo is added to it as well. In James’s lab, practically all the mosquitoes ended up with the genetic addition, a result Esvelt calls “astounding.”

What worries Esvelt is that, in his opinion, the California researchers haven’t used strict enough safety measures. He says locked doors and closed cages aren’t enough. He wants them to install a genetic “reversal drive” so the change can be undone, if necessary. “An accidental release would be a disaster with potentially devastating consequences for public trust in science and especially gene-drive interventions,” he says. “No gene-drive intervention must ever be released without popular support.”

James says the experiment was safe since the mosquitoes are kept behind a series of locked, card-entry doors and because they aren’t native to California. If any escaped, they wouldn’t be able to reproduce.

In fact, the whole point of a gene drive is to release it into the wild, a concept that has long been accepted, at least in theory, by public health organizations including the Gates Foundation. Now that they’re actually possible, however, alarming news headlines have compared the technology to “the next weapon of mass destruction” and even raised the specter of insect terrorism, such as mosquitoes that kill people with a toxin.

Gene-drive terrorism is probably nonsense, at least for now. That’s because even if insect weapons were possible, in practice it’s unlikely a terrorist organization would invest millions in an advanced genetic-engineering program. “I have been thinking quite a bit about bad things you could do with it, and we haven’t come up with anything that would succeed,” says Bier. “There are so many bad things you could do that are easier.”

Instead, Bier and James say they are convinced that engineered mosquitoes should be released as soon as possible, something they hope to do if they can find a community affected by malaria that will agree to it. “Imagine we could design a mosquito that would magically cure cancer,” says Bier. “Well, the fear of getting malaria is the same fear we have of getting cancer. In my opinion the benefits outweigh the risks, and we should move forward as aggressively as we can.”

Via Gerd Moe-Behrens
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Motorcycle runs on water and can travel 310 miles on a single litre

Motorcycle runs on water and can travel 310 miles on a single litre | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Footage shows Sao Paulo-based public officer Ricardo Azevedo filling his 'T Power H20’ motorcycle with clean water and water from the polluted Tiete River before going for a spin. 

 

He said: ‘The advantage of this motorcycle, which works with the hydrogen that comes from the water, is that the result that comes out of the exhaust is water vapour. 


‘This is different from gasoline, which the result is carbon monoxide.’



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Sepp Hasslberger's curator insight, August 3, 2015 9:14 AM

It is only a matter of ingenuity to change our energy world. And of course the inventors have to be able to work without getting barriers thrown in their path all the way... anyway, 310 miles (500 km) per litter of water isn't bad 'gas mileage' at all!

David Cruzate's curator insight, August 6, 2015 5:09 PM

It is only a matter of ingenuity to change our energy world. And of course the inventors have to be able to work without getting barriers thrown in their path all the way... anyway, 310 miles (500 km) per litter of water isn't bad 'gas mileage' at all!

SusanMichelle's curator insight, August 8, 2015 11:11 AM

It is only a matter of ingenuity to change our energy world. And of course the inventors have to be able to work without getting barriers thrown in their path all the way... anyway, 310 miles (500 km) per litter of water isn't bad 'gas mileage' at all!

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Forests and human health

Forests and human health | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

This 2009 publication from the FAO’s Forestry and Forest Products Division highlights why emerging infectious diseases are considered to be among today’s major challenges to science, global health and human development. Rapid changes associated with globalization, especially the rapidly increasing ease of transport, are mixing people, domestic animals, wildlife and plants, along with their parasites and pathogens, at a frequency and in combinations that are unprecedented.

ComplexInsight's insight:

This prescient report from the FAO in 2009 highlights why research on EIDs, particularly that involving the ecological epidemiology of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases associated with forests, needs to be integrated with forest resource management and planning and healthcare management planning. This report along with related publications from FAO are essential reading for anyone modeling ecological change and disease impact. Very much worth reading.

 
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Deforestation, development may be driving Ebola outbreaks, experts say | Al Jazeera America

Deforestation, development may be driving Ebola outbreaks, experts say | Al Jazeera America | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
As humans transform ecosystems and come into closer contact with animals, scientists fear more viral epidemics
ComplexInsight's insight:

After publishing the link to the paper on ebola antibodies in fruitbats in Bangladesh - wespeculated and were asked regarding deforestation impact - this is a good overview article discussing some of the current discussion points.

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Are fish far more intelligent than we realize?

Are fish far more intelligent than we realize? | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
They don't have a three-second memory. And one researcher thinks we've been dramatically underestimating their intelligence all along.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Culum Brown's research into fish behaviour is deeply revealing both for the insights into aquatic life and into human prejudice regarding other species capabilities.  Good article on vox.com regarding fish sentience, perception and behavioural evolution - worth reading.

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Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source

Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Trophic cascade effects occur when a food web is disrupted by loss or significant reduction of one or more of its members. In East African Rift Valley lakes, the Lesser Flamingo is on top of a short food chain. At irregular intervals, the dominance of their most important food source, the cyanobacterium Arthrospira fusiformis, is interrupted. Bacteriophages are known as potentially controlling photoautotrophic bacterioplankton. In Lake Nakuru (Kenya), we found the highest abundance of suspended viruses ever recorded in a natural aquatic system. We document that cyanophage infection and the related breakdown of A. fusiformis biomass led to a dramatic reduction in flamingo abundance. This documents that virus infection at the very base of a food chain can affect, in a bottom-up cascade, the distribution of end consumers. We anticipate this as an important example for virus-mediated cascading effects, potentially occurring also in various other aquatic food webs.


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How Fisheries Affect Evolution

The extensive exploitation of marine resources by modern fisheries (...) has wide-ranging effects on marine ecosystems. Across the world's oceans, size-selective harvesting by commercial fisheries has been a key driving force behind changes in phenotypic traits such as body size and age at maturation (1–3). These changes have altered the trophic structure of the affected ecosystems, disturbed predatorprey relationships, and modified trophic cascade dynamics (3, 4). Phenotypic changes can involve both ecological and evolutionary reactions to the effect of fishing, and there has been much debate about the relative roles of these reactions. This is important because genetic changes could result in long-term reductions in catches. Recent work has provided evidence for fisheries-induced evolutionary changes, with important implications for the sustainability of fisheries.

 

How Fisheries Affect Evolution
Andrea Belgrano, Charles W. Fowler

Science 6 December 2013:
Vol. 342 no. 6163 pp. 1176-1177
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1245490


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Dino impact 'also destroyed bees'

Dino impact 'also destroyed bees' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Scientists say there was a widespread extinction of bees 66 million years ago, at the same time as the event that killed off the dinosaurs.

The demise of the dinosaurs was almost certainly the result of an asteroid or comet hitting Earth. But the extinction event was selective, affecting some groups more than others. Writing in Plos One journal, the team used fossils and DNA analysis to show that one bee group suffered a serious decline at the time of this collision.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Any study explaining why a species went extinct 65 million years ago will at first glance seem disconnected from current events. However bees are critical to  agriculture and ensuring biodiversity. Understanding extinction events that impacted different species of Bees in the past  help us better understand what could happen in the future as Bee's are currently being severely impacted by diesel pollution, modern farming practises (especially insecticides), changing ecosystems and new pests.

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Ocean acidification due to carbon emissions is at highest for 300m years

Ocean acidification due to carbon emissions is at highest for 300m years | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Overfishing and pollution are part of the problem, scientists say, warning that mass extinction of species may be inevitable
ComplexInsight's insight:

Increasing acidification has been predicted by climate modellers and oceanographers for many many years. Hopefully we have not also passed the tipping point that they also described...

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EU to ban fipronil to protect honeybees

EU to ban fipronil to protect honeybees | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Farmers will not be allowed to spray widely used insecticide blamed for declining bee population A widely used insect nerve agent will be banned from use on corn and sunflowers in Europe from the end of 2013 as part of an effort to protect bees,...
ComplexInsight's insight:

If you have been following any agricultural news in recent years - you may have seen titles such as Honey Bees's Disapearing or Bee Population Collapse. After several researchers linked the declining Bee population to fipronil insecticide useage- the EU has finally implemented a ban. Hopefully similar actions will follow elsewhere worldwide and Bee populations can begin to recover.  Bees are an essential natural component to most agricultural systems and fipronil usuage and its impact and endangering of ecosystem it was supposed to help preserve needs to become a lesson we take to heart.

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Complexity Economics: A Different Framework for Economic Thought

This paper provides a logical framework for complexity economics. Complexity economics builds from the proposition that the economy is not necessarily in equilibrium: economic agents (firms, consumers, investors) constantly change their actions and strategies in response to the outcome they mutually create. This further changes the outcome, which requires them to adjust afresh. Agents thus live in a world where their beliefs and strategies are constantly being “tested” for survival within an outcome or “ecology” these beliefs and strategies together create. Economics has largely avoided this nonequilibrium view in the past, but if we allow it, we see patterns or phenomena not visible to equilibrium analysis. These emerge probabilistically, last for some time and dissipate, and they correspond to complex structures in other fields. We also see the economy not as something given and existing but forming from a constantly developing set of technological innovations, institutions, and arrangements that draw forth further innovations, institutions and arrangements.(...) 

 

Complexity Economics: A Different Framework for Economic Thought
W. Brian Arthur
SFI WP 13-04-012

http://www.santafe.edu/research/working-papers/abstract/36df2f7d8ecd8941d8fab92ded2c4547/


Via Complexity Digest, Ashish Umre
ComplexInsight's insight:

Brian Arthur was an early pioneer of applying concepts of complex systems to economic systems and its good to see an update publication that builds on his earlier work and other work in this area. Certainly worth reading.

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Bill Aukett's curator insight, July 16, 2013 10:24 PM

If you've read Waldrop's account of the development of the complexity paradigm at the Sante Fe Institute (Waldrop, M, (1992) Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Chaos, Simon & Schuster, New York), the name Brian Arthur will be familiar.

Betty Cares's curator insight, July 17, 2013 9:39 AM

Another interesting paper from one of our great complexity thinkers, Brian Arthur, author of the El Farol Problem.  I will publish that here soon too!

Luciano Lampi's curator insight, July 18, 2013 8:11 AM

does democracy represent the best tool to face non-equilibrium states and emergence? 

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PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean

PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
PLOS ONE: an inclusive, peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE. Reports of well-performed scientific studies from all disciplines freely available to the whole world.

Via Ed Rybicki
ComplexInsight's insight:

The oceans role as a viral and microbiological ecosystem is not well understood these findings are an important step in beginning to address that. Interesting paper. Click on image or title to learn more. 

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Information Dynamics in the Interaction between a Prey and a Predator Fish

Accessing information efficiently is vital for animals to make the optimal decisions, and it is particularly important when they are facing predators. Yet until now, very few quantitative conclusions have been drawn about the information dynamics in the interaction between animals due to the lack of appropriate theoretic measures. Here, we employ transfer entropy (TE), a new information-theoretic and model-free measure, to explore the information dynamics in the interaction between a predator and a prey fish. We conduct experiments in which a predator and a prey fish are confined in separate parts of an arena, but can communicate with each other visually and tactilely. TE is calculated on the pair’s coarse-grained state of the trajectories. We find that the prey’s TE is generally significantly bigger than the predator’s during trials, which indicates that the dominant information is transmitted from predator to prey. We then demonstrate that the direction of information flow is irrelevant to the parameters used in the coarse-grained procedures. We further calculate the prey’s TE at different distances between it and the predator. The resulted figure shows that there is a high plateau in the mid-range of the distance and that drops quickly at both the near and the far ends. This result reflects that there is a sensitive space zone where the prey is highly vigilant of the predator’s position.

 

Information Dynamics in the Interaction between a Prey and a Predator Fish
Feng Hu, Li-Juan Nie and Shi-Jian Fu

Entropy 2015, 17(10), 7230-7241; http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/e17107230 ;


Via Complexity Digest, ComplexInsight
ComplexInsight's insight:

Interesting use of entropy for information transfer in predator-prey interactions.  Good paper - worth reading and a lot worth thinking  further about.

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The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology | Quanta Magazine

The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology |  Quanta Magazine | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Nature’s large-scale patterns emerge from incomplete surveys, thanks to ideas borrowed from information theory.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Awesome article on the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) theory proposed by John Harte, professor of ecology at University of California, Berkeley. MaxEnt is a key tool to help calculate the total number of species in ecosystem based on very limited information.

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Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea: Where Ecology Meets Economy

Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea: Where Ecology Meets Economy | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

The precise factors that result in an Ebola virus outbreak remain unknown, but a broad examination of the complex and interwoven ecology and socioeconomics may help us better understand what has already happened and be on the lookout for what might happen next, including determining regions and populations at risk. Although the focus is often on the rapidity and efficacy of the short-term international response, attention to these admittedly challenging underlying factors will be required for long-term prevention and control.

 
ComplexInsight's insight:

As terrifying and tragic the current Ebola outbreak is - informed discussion on sources, vectors and the interplay of ecology and socioeconomics will be at the heart of finding long term solutions.

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Ebola Virus Antibodies in Fruit Bats, Bangladesh - Volume 19, Number 2—February 2013 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

Ebola Virus Antibodies in Fruit Bats, Bangladesh - Volume 19, Number 2—February 2013 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
To determine geographic range for Ebola virus, we tested 276 bats in Bangladesh. Five (3.5%) bats were positive for antibodies against Ebola Zaire and Reston viruses; no virus was detected by PCR. These bats might be a reservoir for Ebola or Ebola-like viruses, and extend the range of filoviruses to mainland Asia.
ComplexInsight's insight:

As evidence builds that fruit bats may be a vector for the recent ebola outbreak in Western Africa - I was reminded of this paper in CDC's EID journal which found 5 out of 276 (3.5%) tested bats in Bangladesh had antibodies to Ebola. It would be interesting to map ebola outbreaks against natural migration and deforestation paths and see if there is any correlation and to see how other regional antibody presence tests indicate migration as well. The original paper and the EID journal in general are well worth reading. Click image or headling to read more.

 

 

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Artificial Life 14

Artificial Life 14 | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

ALIFE 14, the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, presents the current state of the art of Artificial Life—the highly interdisciplinary research area on artificially constructed living systems, including mathematical, computational, robotic, and biochemical ones. The understanding and application of such generalized forms of life, or “life as it could be,” have been producing significant contributions to various fields of science and engineering.
This volume contains papers that were accepted through rigorous peer reviews for presentations at the ALIFE 14 conference. The topics covered in this volume include: Evolutionary Dynamics; Artificial Evolutionary Ecosystems; Robot and Agent Behavior; Soft Robotics and Morphologies; Collective Robotics; Collective Behaviors; Social Dynamics and Evolution; Boolean Networks, Neural Networks and Machine Learning; Artificial Chemistries, Cellular Automata and Self-Organizing Systems; In-Vitro and In-Vivo Systems; Evolutionary Art, Philosophy and Entertainment; and Methodologies.

 

Artificial Life 14

Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems

Edited by Hiroki Sayama, John Rieffel, Sebastian Risi, René Doursat and Hod Lipson

http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/artificial-life-14


Via Complexity Digest
ComplexInsight's insight:

I remember reading the first one of these and my imagination being captured by Chris Langton's introduction. Look forward to reading this one.

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Cave holds stunning tsunami clues

Cave holds stunning tsunami clues | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

A cave on the northwestern coast of Sumatra holds a remarkable record of big tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. Scientists are using the site to help determine the frequency of catastrophes like the event of 26 December 2004.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Sumatra's proximity to the Indo-Australia and Sunda tectonic plate boundary, and the giant earthquakes that occur there, means its shores are at risk of major inundations.Understanding how often these occur is important for policy and planning in the region. In the floor of the cave, encoded in the depositions of sand between layers of bat guano is a tsunami record providing detailed event histories from about 7,500 to 3,000 years ago that helps show the frequency of tsunamis in the region.

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Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future — Medium

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future — Medium | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A few years ago, I started looking online to fill in chapters of my family history that no one had ever spoken of.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Maryn McKenna has been writing a number of articulate well informed and frankly terrifying articles in Wired on the rise of drug resistant antibiotics and their societal implications. This 4000 word essay on medium is certainly worth reading and explains her personal interest in the subject. 

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Biotech, farmer associations key for climate adaptation - panel - Reuters AlertNet (blog)

Biotech, farmer associations key for climate adaptation - panel - Reuters AlertNet (blog) | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Biotech, farmer associations key for climate adaptation - panel Reuters AlertNet (blog) LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An increasingly extreme climate is presenting new challenges to farmers across the world, and biotechnology and greater...
ComplexInsight's insight:

The potential for genetically modified crops and relation to climate change - which recently helped drive Monsanto to acquire The Climate Corporation  is once again in the headlines. At the recent Iowa discussion, five farmers from Malawi, India, Portugal, Argentina and Kenya said they were strong believers in using biotech crops to survive and thrive in the face of a changing climate, and said that farmers needed to share ideas and help each other improve farming techniques.  Trust.org does a great job in summarizing the ideas discussed at the event. Worth reading.

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'Parasite threat' from imported bees

'Parasite threat' from imported bees | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Nearly 80% of bumblebees imported from Europe carry pathogens that pose a threat to UK native honeybees and bumblebees, say scientists.
ComplexInsight's insight:

As the EU move to ban fipronil additional findings indicate  more challenges for UK bumblebee. As local populations of bumblebees fell - more bees were imported from Europe. The European imported bees have now been found to carry parasites which pose a threat to the remaining UK native honeybees. With a million colonies of bees imported globally the findings indicate potential problems for many native bee species in other countries. The research highlights problems not only with current import controls and how obvious economic remedies can often further complicate the situation further.

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Not yet gone, but effectively extinct

Not yet gone, but effectively extinct | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A small drop in one species' population can drive others to actually die out.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Functional extinction is an important concept in ecological modeling and i suspect an increasingly important one in other systems modeling domains. Good overview article from arstechnica on why this is important.

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Didier Sornette: How we can predict the next financial crisis

The 2007-2008 financial crisis, you might think, was an unpredictable one-time crash. But Didier Sornette and his Financial Crisis Observatory have plotted a set of early warning signs for unstable, growing systems, tracking the moment when any bubble is about to pop. (And he's seeing it happen again, right now.)


Via Complexity Digest
ComplexInsight's insight:

Didier Sornette and team's work .- highlights role of how system feedback can drive a variety of systems through phase transition resulting in dramatic structural and behavioural change in system behaviour.  While many of the underpinning ideas presented have been discussed extensively in the fields of chaos and complex systems - his teams methods of  analysis and publication combined with the variety of systems he and his team study will hopefully help gain a wider acceptance of using these methods to understand, model and steer systems behaviour. A video well worth watching.

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Bernard Ryefield's curator insight, June 17, 2013 4:14 PM

 

Didier Sornette theory of Dragon-Kings vs Black Swans is supported by a number of concepts from complexity science and certainly needs close scrutinity.

 

The Illusion of the Perpetual Money Machine

D. Sornette, P. Cauwels

http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.2833

 

Dragon Kings, Black Swans and the Prediction of Crises

Didier Sornette

http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.4290

 

Predictability and suppression of extreme events in complex systems

Hugo L. D. de Souza Cavalcante, Marcos Oria, Didier Sornette, Edward Ott, Daniel J. Gauthier

http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.0244

 

Luciano Lampi's curator insight, June 18, 2013 3:30 PM

si non é vero...é ben trovato!

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Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

UCLA researchers now have the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. In an early proof-of-concept study of healthy women, they found that women who regularly consumed beneficial bacteria known as probiotics through yogurt showed altered brain function, both while in a resting state and in response to an emotion-recognition task.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Gut instinct and trust your gut are expressions we use often - researchers at UCLA have now shown there is more to it that simply vernacular expression. Understanding the role of bacteria and human health ecology is becoming far more important to human health than our initial approach of bombing them with anti-biotics first suggested. The new study from UCLA has implications for use of anti-biotics with neonatal care, diet and development and potentially areas such as depression. Much more research following these initial findings will be needed but we are only just starting to discover just how complex we actually are.

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