And you thought managing a smartphone and an inbox was exhausting.
45-year-old Chris Dancy is known as the most connected man in the world. He has between 300 and 700 systems running at any given time, systems that capture real-time data about his life.
His wrists are covered with a variety of wearable technology, including the fitness wristband tracker Fitbit and the Pebble smartwatch. He weighs himself on the Aria Wi-Fi scale, uses smartphone controlled Hue lighting at home and sleeps on a Beddit mattress cover to track his sleep.
Craig Venter, who managed to make science both lucrative and glamorous with his pioneering approach to gene sequencing and synthetic biology, is taking on a new venture: aging.
He has joined forces with the founder of the X Prize and an expert in cell therapy to launch on Tuesday a new company called Human Longevity Inc. The man who once took off on his personal yacht to sample all the microscopic life in the seas plans to leverage some of the most fashionable new scientific approaches to figure out what makes us sick and old.
The San Diego-based company will tackle aging using gene sequencing; stem cell approaches; the collection of bacteria and other life forms that live in and on us called the microbiome; and the metabolome, which includes the byproducts of life called metabolites.
They’ll start out with what they are calling the largest human sequencing operation in the world.
“We are building a lab to a scale never attempted (before),” Venter told NBC News.
Venter first shot to fame when he raced with government scientists to finish the first map of all human DNA, called the human genome. Venter, himself a former government scientist, annoyed his former colleagues with a brash new approach to gene sequencing that was much faster but far less accurate, in their opinion.
As we discover more about love's neural basis, we are getting closer to a pill to diminish heartbreak
ROSES are red, violets are blue, when you reject me, what can I do? As we discover more about love's neural basis, we are getting closer to a way of curing its ills.
While many might be wary of a chemical cure for heartbreak, there is an argument that such anti-love solutions could help people struggling with suicidal or delusional thoughts because of unrequited love, or those in the clutches of unrelenting grief. The morals of the use and misuse of such drugs are complex (see "Cure for love: Should we take anti-love drugs?"), but ethics aside, what could a cure for love look like?
First things first: what is love? For Shakespeare, it "is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken". For neuroscientists, it's less poetic: a neurobiological phenomenon that falls into three subtypes: lust, attraction and attachment – all of which increase our reproductive and parental success.
Each aspect is grounded in a suite of overlapping chemical systems in the brain. There are ways to diminish each of them, says Helen Fisher at Rutgers University in New Jersey, but they aren't always palatable.
Take lust. Ever found yourself obsessing over the tiniest details of a person? Their hair, say, or the number of kisses in a text? This tunnel vision resembles some of the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, so Donatella Marazziti at the University of Pisa in Italy, compared the brains of 20 people in the first throes of love with those of 20 people with OCD.
Both groups had unusually low levels of a protein that transports serotonin – a hormone involved in regulating mood – around the brain. Retesting the lovers a year later revealed that their serotonin levels had increased, and that they no longer reported an obsessive focus on their partners.
Hangout on Air: The Naked Future - A World That Anticipates Your Every Move
Sunday, Dec 15, 2013, 7:00 PM
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48 futurists Attending
What kind of privacy will be left for people, in a near-future world of ubiquitous computing, with sensors everywhere, and with "big data" algorithms that draw alarmingly reliable inferences about our intentions and plans?
How will human psychology cope, with the "always-on" scrutiny of our every action?
Can legislation keep pace with the challenge...
Evolution does not operate with a goal in mind; it does not have foresight. But organisms that have a greater capacity to evolve may fare better in rapidly changing environments. This raises the question: does evolution favor characteristics that increase a species' ability to evolve?
For several years, biologists have attempted to provide evidence that natural selection has acted on evolvability. Now a new paper by University of Pennsylvania researchers offers, for the first time, clear evidence that the answer is yes.
The senior author on the study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, is Dustin Brisson, an assistant professor in the School of Arts and Sciences' Department of Biology. His coauthors include Penn's Christopher J. Graves, Vera I. D. Ros and Paul D. Sniegowski, and the University of Kentucky's Brian Stevenson.
"It's not controversial that populations evolve and that some traits are more apt to evolve than others," Brisson said. "What we were asking is whether the ability of an organism to evolve is a trait that natural selection can pick."
We surf the net, stream our films and save stuff in the cloud. Can we get all the nature we need from the digital world?
But what do we mean when we refer to ‘nature’? It’s a common term that seems to have an assumed collective meaning, often romanticised and sentimental. We speak of ‘getting back to nature’ as if there was once a prelapsarian baseline before we humans interfered and spoiled it. Gary Snyder, the American poet and environmentalist, offers alternative definitions from which we can choose. In The Practice of the Wild (1990), he distils down to two ways in which the term ‘nature’ is usually interpreted. One, he argues, is the outdoors: ‘the physical world, including all living things. Nature by this definition is a norm of the world that is apart from the features or products of civilisation and human will. The machine, the artefact, the devised, or the extraordinary (like a two-headed calf) is spoken of as “unnatural”.’The other meaning is much broader, taking the first and adding to it all the products of human action and intention. Snyder calls it the material world and all its collective objects and phenomena. ‘Science and some sorts of mysticism rightly propose that everything is natural,’ he writes. In this sense, ‘there is nothing unnatural about New York City, or toxic wastes, or atomic energy, and nothing — by definition — that we do or experience in life is “unnatural”.’ That, of course, includes the products of technology. This is Snyder’s preferred definition — and mine too. However, though it’s not always made clear, I’d venture a guess that environmental psychologists might have a preference for the former, human-free definition of nature.
Across the planet, new technologies and business models are decentralizing power and placing it in the hands of communities and individuals. "We are seeing technology-driven networks replacing bureacratically-driven hierarchies," says VC and futurist Fred Wilson, speaking on what to expect in the next ten years. View the entire 25-minute video below (it's worth it!) and then check out the 21 innovations below.
Bitcoin is a digital currency, meaning it's money controlled and stored entirely by computers spread across the internet, and this money is finding its way to more and more people and businesses around the world.
For more than half a century scientists have looked on the DNA molecule as life's blueprint, but biological engineers are beginning to see the molecule not as a static plan, but more like a snippet of life's computer code that they can program.