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J. Craig Venter: Humans now have the ability to control evolution, though perhaps not yet the wisdom

J. Craig Venter: Humans now have the ability to control evolution, though perhaps not yet the wisdom | Interesting | Scoop.it

J. Craig Venter is the pioneering cartographer of the human genome, the sequence of which he and other scientists mapped in 2000. The WorldPost recently spoke with this modern Prometheus about the promises and perils of being able to read, write and edit the human genome.


Venter: "Biological evolution has taken three and a half or four billion years to get us where we are. Social evolution has been much faster. Now that we can read and write the genetic code, put it in digital form and translate it back into synthesized life, it will be possible to speed up biological evolution to the pace of social evolution. On a theoretical basis, that gives us control over biological design. We can write DNA software, boot it up to a converter and create unlimited variations on biological life."


Venter: "This year is the fifth anniversary of when my team produced the first synthetic cell. To do that, we took the ones and zeroes in the computer, rewrote the genetic code from four bottles of chemicals and booted that up to get a self-replicating cell. That means we now have the power to start controlling evolution.


We’re doing this now in cells that can change manufacturing and create a new industrial revolution by creating synthetic food, chemicals and even building materials. Ultimately, as we begin to better understand our own genetic code, we can edit the human genome -- as some Chinese scientists disturbingly did earlier this year.


So we have the power to do it. But we clearly do not have the wisdom to do it or the knowledge to do it in a safe fashion. That is why many of us involved in the science have suggested a moratorium on any human changes until we understand the full consequences of our interventions. 


In the end, however, it is inevitable that we will not be able to control ourselves. Using knowledge to eliminate horrific diseases from the population is going to be an overwhelming temptation. The flip side of eliminating disease will also be irresistible because we have learned now how to improve intelligence and how to improve athletic abilities -- in short, how to make better people."



Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from Papers
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The mortality of companies

The firm is a fundamental economic unit of contemporary human societies. Studies on the general quantitative and statistical character of firms have produced mixed results regarding their lifespans and mortality. We examine a comprehensive database of more than 25 000 publicly traded North American companies, from 1950 to 2009, to derive the statistics of firm lifespans. Based on detailed survival analysis, we show that the mortality of publicly traded companies manifests an approximately constant hazard rate over long periods of observation. This regularity indicates that mortality rates are independent of a company's age. We show that the typical half-life of a publicly traded company is about a decade, regardless of business sector. Our results shed new light on the dynamics of births and deaths of publicly traded companies and identify some of the necessary ingredients of a general theory of firms.

 

Madeleine I. G. Daepp , Marcus J. Hamilton , Geoffrey B. West , Luís M. A. Bettencourt. The mortality of companies. Royal Society Interface, 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2015.0120 ;

 


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Five weekend reads in Robotics, AI and economics

Five weekend reads in Robotics, AI and economics | Interesting | Scoop.it
Most of the time, most of us have absolutely no idea what robots are thinking In an experiment, MIT researchers used their AR system to place obstacles -- like human pedestrians -- in the path of r...

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Single injection reverses type 2 diabetes symptoms in mice without side effects - Gizmag

Single injection reverses type 2 diabetes symptoms in mice without side effects - Gizmag | Interesting | Scoop.it
Single injection reverses type 2 diabetes symptoms in mice without side effects Gizmag There are numerous research efforts underway to develop new treatments and improve the lives of people suffering type 2 diabetes, whose ranks have increased...
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Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute
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Frontiers | Computational Tools and Algorithms for Designing Customized Synthetic Genes | Synthetic Biology

Advances in DNA synthesis have enabled the construction of artificial genes, gene circuits, and genomes of bacterial scale. Freedom in de-novo design of synthetic constructs provides significant power in studying the impact of mutations in sequence features, and verifying hypotheses on the functional information that is encoded in nucleic and amino acids. To aid this goal, a large number of software tools of variable sophistication have been implemented, enabling the design of synthetic genes for sequence optimization based on rationally defined properties. The first generation of tools dealt predominantly with singular objectives such as codon usage optimization and unique restriction site incorporation. Recent years have seen the emergence of sequence design tools that aim to evolve sequences toward combinations of objectives. The design of optimal protein coding sequences adhering to multiple objectives is computationally hard, and most tools rely on heuristics to sample the vast sequence design space. In this review we study some of the algorithmic issues behind gene optimization and the approaches that different tools have adopted to redesign genes and optimize desired coding features. We utilize test cases to demonstrate the efficiency of each approach, as well as identify their strengths and limitations.

Via Gerd Moe-Behrens
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Avoiding the tragedy of the anticommons - O'Reilly Radar

Avoiding the tragedy of the anticommons - O'Reilly Radar | Interesting | Scoop.it

 

A few months ago, I singled out an article in BioCoder about the appearance of open source biology. In his white paper for the Bio-Commons, Rüdiger Trojok writes about a significantly more ambitious vision for open biology: a bio-commons that holds biological intellectual property in trust for the good of all. He also articulates the tragedy of the anticommons, the nightmarish opposite of a bio-commons in which progress is difficult or impossible because “ambiguous and competing intellectual property claims…deter sharing and weaken investment incentives.” Each individual piece of intellectual property is carefully groomed and preserved, but it’s impossible to combine the elements; it’s like a jigsaw puzzle, in which every piece is locked in a separate safe...


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Spaceweaver's curator insight, October 25, 2014 2:56 PM

An important read

Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from Quantitative Finance
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Constructing a Continuous Futures Series From Quandl

Constructing a Continuous Futures Series From Quandl | Interesting | Scoop.it
(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)
by Ilya Kipnis
In this post, I will demonstrate how to obtain, stitch together, and clean data for backtesting using futures data from Quandl.

Via Vincent Denoiseux
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Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from Makerspaces
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Creating Maker-friendly cities - O'Reilly Radar

Creating Maker-friendly cities - O'Reilly Radar | Interesting | Scoop.it
Governments, particularly local governments, need to do more to understand and adapt to what might be called DIY citizenship.

Via Melanie Barker
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Meet Wired Design, Your New Bookmark for Cutting-Edge DIY Coverage

Meet Wired Design, Your New Bookmark for Cutting-Edge DIY Coverage | Interesting | Scoop.it
Attention hardware hackers, modders, and makers of all things awesome: Wired has a new online home for DIY product design, and it's Gadget L...

Via Melanie Barker
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The internet has created a new industrial revolution

The internet has created a new industrial revolution | Interesting | Scoop.it
Chris Anderson: Anyone with a good digital idea can create a successful online business. So are the 'Makers', who are harnessing these new technologies, helping to reboot the manufacturing industry?

Via Melanie Barker
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The Difference Between Makers and Manufacturers | MIT Technology Review

The Difference Between Makers and Manufacturers | MIT Technology Review | Interesting | Scoop.it
Fans of 3-D printers and digital design tools argue that these technologies will transform the way we make goods. But can the “maker” movement really produce more than iPhone covers and jewelry?

Via Melanie Barker
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Homeless to hacker: How the Maker Movement changed one man's life

Homeless to hacker: How the Maker Movement changed one man's life | Interesting | Scoop.it
In Christmas 2011, Marc Roth fished out a business card for TechShop out of a shelter's garbage bin. Two years later, he's an entrepreneur with a funded laser company, and one of the Maker Movement...

Via Melanie Barker
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Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from Upcycling-DIY
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6 Awesome Parks Made From Rehabilitated Urban Structures

6 Awesome Parks Made From Rehabilitated Urban Structures | Interesting | Scoop.it
Inhabitat's Top 6 picks for awesome parks adaptively reused from urban infrastructure. (Check out these 6 rad adaptive reuse park projects. 1 of 'em turns an abandoned nuclear plant into an amusement park!

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Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from Amazing Science
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The simple statistic that perfectly captures what climate change means

The simple statistic that perfectly captures what climate change means | Interesting | Scoop.it
There are many ways to measure the world’s changing climate. You can chart rising global temperatures, rising sea levels and melting ice. What’s tougher, though, is to find a measurement that easily relates all of that to what people experience in their daily lives.

In a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, however, two Australian researchers do just this by examining a simple but telling meteorological metric — the ratio of new hot temperature records set in the country to new cold temperature records.

“In a stationary climate, a climate where we don’t have any trend or long-term change, we expect hot and cold records to be broken at almost the same rate,” explains Sophie Lewis, the lead study author and a researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra. “But in the last 15 years, we see a dramatic increase in the frequency of hot records and the decrease of cold records.”

Australia has warmed nearly 1 degree Celsius since 1910, and has experienced  plenty  of extreme heat recently, especially during the famous “angry summer” of 2012-2013. In particular, the year 2013 broke all manner of country-wide temperature records: “hottest day, week, month, and season observed, and it was the warmest year on record,” note Lewis and her co-author, Andrew King of the University of Melbourne.

So how unusual was this? And would it be likely to happen in a climate unperturbed by human greenhouse gas emissions?

Lewis and King looked at how often Australia set hot and cold temperature records from the year 1910 through 2014. They only considered temperature records across the country as a whole and in each of its states or territories (except Tasmania), and only examined monthly, seasonal and annual records. Thus, the study did not examine daily records or records in individual locations. (This was in part to avoid problems introduced by the fact that over time, the number of individual temperature recording stations changes.)

Sure enough, the study found that from 1910 to 1960, the ratio of hot to cold records was close to 1 to 1. From 1960 to 2014, however, that changed, as hot records started to happen much more frequently than cold records — and from 2000 to 2014, outnumbered them by more than 12 to 1.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Bacterial Ventures into Multicellularity: Collectivism through Individuality

Bacterial Ventures into Multicellularity: Collectivism through Individuality | Interesting | Scoop.it
Multicellular eukaryotes can perform functions that exceed the possibilities of an individual cell. These functions emerge through interactions between differentiated cells that are precisely arranged in space. Bacteria also form multicellular collectives that consist of differentiated but genetically identical cells. How does the functionality of these collectives depend on the spatial arrangement of the differentiated bacteria? In a previous issue of PLOS Biology, van Gestel and colleagues reported an elegant example of how the spatial arrangement of differentiated cells gives rise to collective behavior in Bacillus subtilus colonies, further demonstrating the similarity of bacterial collectives to higher multicellular organisms.

 

van Vliet S, Ackermann M (2015) Bacterial Ventures into Multicellularity: Collectivism through Individuality. PLoS Biol 13(6): e1002162. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002162 ;


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5 Hard Questions about Emerging Technologies We Can’t Afford Not to Ask

5 Hard Questions about Emerging Technologies We Can’t Afford Not to Ask | Interesting | Scoop.it
In the near future access to information and new technology may make profits and privacy obsolete, and force us to redefine the boundaries between humanity and machines

Via RobotEnomics
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Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from SynBioFromLeukipposInstitute
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Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page (w/video)

Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page (w/video) | Interesting | Scoop.it
Nanowerk is the leading nanotechnology portal, committed to educate, inform and inspire about nanotechnologies, nanosciences, and other emerging technologies

Via Gerd Moe-Behrens
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BioHacking, Synthetic Biology, and DIYBio - Maker Faire Charlottesville

Jameson Dungan spoke at C'ville Makerfaire about Synthetic Biology and BioLogik Labs. 10.4.14.

Via Gerd Moe-Behrens
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Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from Transhumanism Network
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12 year-old develops handwriting-to-speech app, HandySpeech - NUANCE

12 year-old develops handwriting-to-speech app, HandySpeech - NUANCE | Interesting | Scoop.it

"At just 12 years old, Eric Zeiberg developed HandySpeech for iOS – a handwriting-to-speech application that allows individuals to draw on a smartphone or tablet screen with their finger and have the text read aloud. HandySpeech leverages several advanced technologies, including Nuance voice technology via the NDEV Mobile developer program. It's now recognized by leading professionals and institutions as a valuable application for individuals with speech and hearing challenges."

 

 


Via John Evans, Karen E Smith
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Karen E Smith's curator insight, May 13, 2014 10:50 AM

Learn coding at any age and benefit others.

Mirta Liliana Filgueira's curator insight, May 13, 2014 7:39 PM

Herramienta para personas con problemas de audición.

Rescooped by Ryan Lanham from Quantitative Finance
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magrittr: Simplifying R code with pipes

magrittr: Simplifying R code with pipes | Interesting | Scoop.it
(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)
R is a functional language, which means that your code often contains a lot of ( parentheses ).

Via Vincent Denoiseux
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Students working on incredible Battlestar Galactica flight sim for Maker Faire | Geek.com

Students working on incredible Battlestar Galactica flight sim for Maker Faire | Geek.com | Interesting | Scoop.it

Some students in California are working on a Battlestar Galactica Viper flight simulator.  Impressive.

 

"Mar.25, 2012 - Attention all you would be Colonial Viper pilots, there's a new project underway that is going to help train you to take out some toasters in the next epic..."


Via Melanie Barker
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Craftsmanship is Dead. Long Live Maker Culture. | Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning

Craftsmanship is Dead. Long Live Maker Culture. | Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning | Interesting | Scoop.it

A response to Louis Uchitelle's piece on the death of craftsmanship in America.


Via Melanie Barker
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We can do better than Shop Class

I really didn’t like shop class. Looking back, there’s so much that I could have enjoyed about it, but as a 7th grader in the early 90s I dreaded that room. It was school without readin...

Via Melanie Barker
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Chinese DIY Inventions

Chinese DIY Inventions | Interesting | Scoop.it
One visible sign of China's recent economic growth is the rise in prominence of inventors and entrepreneurs

Via Melanie Barker
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More than just digital quilting

More than just digital quilting | Interesting | Scoop.it





THE scene in the park surrounding New York’s Hall of Science, on a sunny weekend in mid-September, resembles a futuristic craft fair.

Via Melanie Barker
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