Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering
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Frontiers | Toward Growing Robots: A Historical Evolution from Cellular to Plant-Inspired Robotics | Robotics and AI

Frontiers | Toward Growing Robots: A Historical Evolution from Cellular to Plant-Inspired Robotics | Robotics and AI | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
This paper provides the very first definition of “growing robots”: a category of robots that imitates biological growth by the incremental addition of material. Although this nomenclature is quite new, the concept of morphological evolution, which is behind growth, has been extensively addressed in engineering and robotics. In fact, the idea of reproducing processes that belong to living systems has always attracted scientists and engineers. The creation of systems that adapt reliably and effectively to the environment with their morphology and control would be beneficial for many different applications, including terrestrial and space exploration or the monitoring of disasters or dangerous environments. Different approaches have been proposed over the years for solving the morphological adaptation of artificial systems, e.g. self-assembly, self-reconfigurability, evolution of virtual creatures, plant-inspiration. This work reviews the main milestones in relation to growing robots, starting from the original concept of a self-replicating automaton to the achievements obtained by plant inspiration, which provided an alternative solution to the challenges of creating robots with self-building capabilities. A selection of robots representative of growth functioning is also discussed, grouped by the natural element used as model: molecule, cell or organism growth-inspired robots. Finally, the historical evolution of growing robots is outlined together with a discussion of th
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Population cycles

Population cycles | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Population cycles are one of nature's great mysteries. For almost a hundred years, innumerable studies have probed the causes of cyclic dynamics in snowshoe hares, voles and lemmings, forest Lepidoptera and grouse. Even though cyclic species have very different life histories, similarities in mechanisms related to their dynamics are apparent. In addition to high reproductive rates and density-related mortality from predators, pathogens or parasitoids, other characteristics include transgenerational reduced reproduction and dispersal with increasing-peak densities, and genetic similarity among populations. Experiments to stop cyclic dynamics and comparisons of cyclic and noncyclic populations provide some understanding but both reproduction and mortality must be considered. What determines variation in amplitude and periodicity of population outbreaks remains a mystery.
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The Emergence of Consensus: A Primer

The Emergence of Consensus: A Primer | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
The origin of population-scale coordination has puzzled philosophers and scientists for centuries. Recently, game theory, evolutionary approaches and complex systems science have provided quantitative insights on the mechanisms of social consensus. However, the literature is vast and widely scattered across fields, making it hard for the single researcher to navigate it. This short review aims to provide a compact overview of the main dimensions over which the debate has unfolded and to discuss some representative examples. It focuses on those situations in which consensus emerges ‘spontaneously’ in the absence of centralized institutions and covers topics that include the macroscopic consequences of the different microscopic rules of behavioural contagion, the role of social networks and the mechanisms that prevent the formation of a consensus or alter it after it has emerged. Special attention is devoted to the recent wave of experiments on the emergence of consensus in social systems.
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How Corrupt Are Universities? Audit Culture, Fraud Prevention, and the Big Four Accountancy Firms | Current Anthropology: Ahead of Print

How Corrupt Are Universities? Audit Culture, Fraud Prevention, and the Big Four Accountancy Firms | Current Anthropology: Ahead of Print | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
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Gil Kalai’s Argument Against Quantum Computers

Gil Kalai’s Argument Against Quantum Computers | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
The mathematician Gil Kalai believes that quantum computers can't possibly work, even in principle.
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A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults

A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Objective We performed a systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression to determine if dietary protein supplementation augments resistance exercise training (RET)-induced gains in muscle mass and strength.

Data sources A systematic search of Medline, Embase, CINAHL and SportDiscus.

Eligibility criteria Only randomised controlled trials with RET ≥6 weeks in duration and dietary protein supplementation.

Design Random-effects meta-analyses and meta-regressions with four a priori determined covariates. Two-phase break point analysis was used to determine the relationship between total protein intake and changes in fat-free mass (FFM).

Results Data from 49 studies with 1863 participants showed that dietary protein supplementation significantly (all p<0.05) increased changes (means (95% CI)) in: strength—one-repetition-maximum (2.49 kg (0.64, 4.33)), FFM (0.30 kg (0.09, 0.52)) and muscle size—muscle fibre cross-sectional area (CSA; 310 µm2 (51, 570)) and mid-femur CSA (7.2 mm2 (0.20, 14.30)) during periods of prolonged RET. The impact of protein supplementation on gains in FFM was reduced with increasing age (−0.01 kg (−0.02,–0.00), p=0.002) and was more effective in resistance-trained individuals (0.75 kg (0.09, 1.40), p=0.03). Protein supplementation beyond total protein intakes of 1.62 g/kg/day resulted in no further RET-induced gains in FFM.

Summary/conclusion Dietary protein supplementation significantly enhanced changes in muscle strength and size during prolonged RET in healthy adults. Increasing age reduces and training experience increases the efficacy of protein supplementation during RET. With protein supplementation, protein intakes at amounts greater than ~1.6 g/kg/day do not further contribute RET-induced gains in FFM.
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Remember why we work on cancer

Remember why we work on cancer | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Levi Garraway reflects on the three things that keep his compass true when the going gets tough.
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No publication without confirmation

No publication without confirmation | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Jeffrey S. Mogil and Malcolm R. Macleod propose a new kind of paper that combines the flexibility of basic research with the rigour of clinical trials.
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ScienceDirect

What is science’s crisis really about?
Dr Alejandro Martinez-Garcia's insight:
"Present day reasoning about difficulties in science reproducibility, science governance, and the use of science for policy could benefit from a philosophical and historical perspective. This would show that the present crisis was anticipated by some scholars of these disciplines, and that diagnoses were offered which are not yet mainstream among crisis-aware disciplines, from statistics to medicine, from bibliometrics to biology. Diagnoses in turn open the path to possible solutions. This discussion is urgent given the impact of the crises on public trust in institutions. We ask whether the present crisis may be seminal in terms of drawing attention to alternative visions for the role of Science in society, and its relevant institutional arrangements. We finish by offering a number of suggestions in this direction."
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How dead ends undermine power grid stability

How dead ends undermine power grid stability | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
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Culturally antagonistic memes and the Zika virus: an experimental test

This paper examines a remedy for a defect in existing accounts of public risk perceptions. The accounts in question feature two dynamics: the affect heuristic, which emphasizes the impact of visceral feelings on information processing; and the cultural cognition thesis, which describes the tendency of individuals to form beliefs that reflect and reinforce their group commitments. The defect is the failure of these two dynamics, when combined, to explain the peculiar selectivity of public risk controversies: despite their intensity and disruptiveness, such controversies occur less frequently than the affect heuristic and the cultural cognition thesis seem to predict. To account for this aspect of public risk perceptions, the paper describes a model that adds the phenomenon of culturally antagonistic memes – argumentative tropes that fuse positions on risk with contested visions of the best life. Arising adventitiously, antagonistic memes transform affect and cultural cognition from consensus-generating, truth-convergent influences on information processing into conflictual, identity-protective ones. The paper supports this model with experimental results involving perceptions of the risk of the Zika virus: a general sample of US subjects, whose cultural orientations were measured with the Cultural Cognition Worldview Scales, formed polarized affective reactions when exposed to information that was pervaded with antagonistic memes linking Zika to global warming; when exposed to comparable information linking Zika to unlawful immigration, the opposing affective stances of the subjects flipped in direction. Normative and prescriptive implications of these results are discussed.
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Understanding diversity in telomere dynamics

Understanding diversity in telomere dynamics | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Telomeres and their associated proteins constitute an ancient and highly conserved system to maintain chromosome stability and the integrity of the coding sequences in eukaryote genomes. They identify and protect the chromosome ends. While other linear chromosome-capping mechanisms also occur in nature [1], the telomeric system appears to be the most common. Many operational principles of this system are shared across a wide range of eukaryote species, indicative of its ancient origins. Telomere DNA generally comprises a string of a repeated, short, non-coding sequence, which is often G rich, such as TTAGGG [2]. The proximal end of the telomeric tract is double stranded, and the distal end terminates in a single-stranded overhang of the G-rich strand. The structure loops back on itself and the single-stranded section intrudes into the double-stranded telomeric DNA. Specific protein complexes, termed the shelterin and CST complexes, help to maintain the t-loop structure and regulate telomere access during DNA replication (e.g. for review, see [3]). Processes occur within cells not only to maintain telomere structure, but also to restore the loss of telomeric DNA that occurs as a natural consequence of the DNA replication process.

Until relatively recently, almost all of the work on telomeres was in the context of understanding how malfunctioning of this system of chromosome protection can lead to human disease. However, there has been a burgeoning of interest in looking at how the telomere system operates in different kinds of animals, and in understanding variation in telomere dynamics and in the expression of telomerase in species with different morphologies and life histories. This theme issue represents a relatively unusual coming together of scientists from different disciplinary backgrounds, including evolutionary biology, ecology, cell biology and biomedicine, to understand and elucidate the origins and diversity of telomere dynamics, …
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Phylogenetic tests for evolutionary innovation: the problematic link between key innovations and exceptional diversification

Phylogenetic tests for evolutionary innovation: the problematic link between key innovations and exceptional diversification | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Evolutionary innovation contributes to the spectacular diversity of species and phenotypes across the tree of life. ‘Key innovations’ are widely operationalized within evolutionary biology as traits that facilitate increased diversification rates, such that lineages bearing the traits ultimately contain more species than closely related lineages lacking the focal trait. In this article, I briefly review the inference, analysis and interpretation of evolutionary innovation on phylogenetic trees. I argue that differential rates of lineage diversification should not be used as the basis for key innovation tests, despite the statistical tractability of such approaches. Under traditional interpretations of the macroevolutionary ‘adaptive zone’, we should not necessarily expect key innovations to confer faster diversification rates upon lineages that possess them relative to their extant sister clades. I suggest that a key innovation is a trait that allows a lineage to interact with the environment in a fundamentally different way and which, as a result, increases the total diversification—but not necessarily the diversification rate—of the parent clade. Considered alone, branching patterns in phylogenetic trees are poorly suited to the inference of evolutionary innovation due to their inherently low information content with respect to the processes that produce them. However, phylogenies may be important for identifying transformational shifts in ecological and morphological space that are characteristic of innovation at the macroevolutionary scale.

This article is part of the themed issue ‘Process and pattern in innovations from cells to societies’.
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The economic value of grassland species for carbon storage

The economic value of grassland species for carbon storage | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Carbon storage by ecosystems is valuable for climate protection. Biodiversity conservation may help increase carbon storage, but the value of this influence has been difficult to assess. We use plant, soil, and ecosystem carbon storage data from two grassland biodiversity experiments to show that greater species richness increases economic value: Increasing species richness from 1 to 10 had twice the economic value of increasing species richness from 1 to 2. The marginal value of each additional species declined as species accumulated, reflecting the nonlinear relationship between species richness and plant biomass production. Our demonstration of the economic value of biodiversity for enhancing carbon storage provides a foundation for assessing the value of biodiversity for decisions about land management. Combining carbon storage with other ecosystem services affected by biodiversity may well enhance the economic arguments for conservation even further.
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Genetic diversity, inbreeding and cancer

Genetic diversity, inbreeding and cancer | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Genetic diversity is essential for adaptive capacities, providing organisms with the potential of successfully responding to intrinsic and extrinsic challenges. Although a clear reciprocal link between genetic diversity and resistance to parasites and pathogens has been established across taxa, the impact of loss of genetic diversity by inbreeding on the emergence and progression of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, has been overlooked. Here we provide an overview of such associations and show that low genetic diversity and inbreeding associate with an increased risk of cancer in both humans and animals. Cancer being a multifaceted disease, loss of genetic diversity can directly (via accumulation of oncogenic homozygous mutations) and indirectly (via increased susceptibility to oncogenic pathogens) impact abnormal cell emergence and escape of immune surveillance. The observed link between reduced genetic diversity and cancer in wildlife may further imperil the long-term survival of numerous endangered species, highlighting the need to consider the impact of cancer in conservation biology. Finally, the somewhat incongruent data originating from human studies suggest that the association between genetic diversity and cancer development is multifactorial and may be tumour specific. Further studies are therefore crucial in order to elucidate the underpinnings of the interactions between genetic diversity, inbreeding and cancer.
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Information theory and complex life

Information theory and complex life | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Despite the obvious advantage of simple life forms capable of fast replication, different levels of cognitive complexity have been achieved by living systems in terms of their potential to cope with environmental uncertainty. Against the inevitable cost associated with detecting environmental cues and responding to them in adaptive ways, we conjecture that the potential for predicting the environment can overcome the expenses associated with maintaining costly, complex structures. We present a minimal formal model grounded in information theory and selection, in which successive generations of agents are mapped into transmitters and receivers of a coded message. Our agents are guessing machines and their capacity to deal with environments of different complexity defines the conditions to sustain more complex agents.
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terrestrial laser scanning

terrestrial laser scanning | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
New laser scanning technologies are set to revolutionize the way in which we measure and understand changes in ecosystem structure and function. Forest ecosystems present a particular challenge because of their scale, complexity and structural dynamics. Traditional forestry techniques rely on manual measurement of easy-to-measure characteristics such as tree girth and height, along with time-consuming, logistically difficult and error-prone destructive sampling. Much more detailed and accurate three-dimensional measurements of forest structure and composition are key to reducing errors in biomass estimates and carbon dynamics and to better understanding the role of forests in global ecosystem and climate change processes. Terrestrial laser scanners are now starting to be deployed in forest ecology research and, at the same time, new terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) technologies are being developed to enhance and extend the range of measurements that can be made. These new TLS measurements provide a tantalizing glimpse of a completely new way to measure and understand forest structure. It is therefore a good time to take stock, assess the state of the art and identify the immediate challenges for continued development of TLS in forest ecology.
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Single Agent Polysaccharopeptide Delays Metastases and Improves Survival in Naturally Occurring Hemangiosarcoma

Single Agent Polysaccharopeptide Delays Metastases and Improves Survival in Naturally Occurring Hemangiosarcoma | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) is an international peer-reviewed, Open Access journal that seeks to understand the sources and to encourage rigorous research in this new, yet ancient world of complementary and alternative medicine.
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Increased vegetation growth and carbon stock in China karst via ecological engineering

Increased vegetation growth and carbon stock in China karst via ecological engineering | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
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Robust research needs many lines of evidence

Robust research needs many lines of evidence | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Replication is not enough. Marcus R. Munafò and George Davey Smith state the case for triangulation.
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Towards personalized computational oncology: from spatial models of tumour spheroids, to organoids, to tissues

Towards personalized computational oncology: from spatial models of tumour spheroids, to organoids, to tissues | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
A main goal of mathematical and computational oncology is to develop quantitative tools to determine the most effective therapies for each individual patient. This involves predicting the right drug to be administered at the right time and at the right dose. Such an approach is known as precision medicine. Mathematical modelling can play an invaluable role in the development of such therapeutic strategies, since it allows for relatively fast, efficient and inexpensive simulations of a large number of treatment schedules in order to find the most effective. This review is a survey of mathematical models that explicitly take into account the spatial architecture of three-dimensional tumours and address tumour development, progression and response to treatments. In particular, we discuss models of epithelial acini, multicellular spheroids, normal and tumour spheroids and organoids, and multi-component tissues. Our intent is to showcase how these in silico models can be applied to patient-specific data to assess which therapeutic strategies will be the most efficient. We also present the concept of virtual clinical trials that integrate standard-of-care patient data, medical imaging, organ-on-chip experiments and computational models to determine personalized medical treatment strategies.
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Homing in on a key factor of climate change

Homing in on a key factor of climate change | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
The sensitivity of Earth’s climate to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is a big unknown in predicting future global warming. A compelling analysis suggests that we can rule out high estimates of this sensitivity.
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Mergeable nervous systems for robots

Mergeable nervous systems for robots | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Article
Dr Alejandro Martinez-Garcia's insight:
Robots have the potential to display a higher degree of lifetime morphological adaptation than natural organisms. By adopting a modular approach, robots with different capabilities, shapes, and sizes could, in theory, construct and reconfigure themselves as required. However, current modular robots have only been able to display a limited range of hardwired behaviors because they rely solely on distributed control. Here, we present robots whose bodies and control systems can merge to form entirely new robots that retain full sensorimotor control. Our control paradigm enables robots to exhibit properties that go beyond those of any existing machine or of any biological organism: the robots we present can merge to form larger bodies with a single centralized controller, split into separate bodies with independent controllers, and self-heal by removing or replacing malfunctioning body parts. This work takes us closer to robots that can autonomously change their size, form and function.
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Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing

Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
This article describes evidence suggesting that science curiosity counteracts politically biased information processing. This finding is in tension with two bodies of research. The first casts doub
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Reflections on telomere dynamics and ageing-related diseases in humans

Reflections on telomere dynamics and ageing-related diseases in humans | Sustainable Complex Coevolutionary Systems Engineering | Scoop.it
Epidemiological studies have principally relied on measurements of telomere length (TL) in leucocytes, which reflects TL in other somatic cells. Leucocyte TL (LTL) displays vast variation across individuals—a phenomenon already observed in newborns. It is highly heritable, longer in females than males and in individuals of African ancestry than European ancestry. LTL is also longer in offspring conceived by older men. The traditional view regards LTL as a passive biomarker of human ageing. However, new evidence suggests that a dynamic interplay between selective evolutionary forces and TL might result in trade-offs for specific health outcomes. From a biological perspective, an active role of TL in ageing-related human diseases could occur because short telomeres increase the risk of a category of diseases related to restricted cell proliferation and tissue degeneration, including cardiovascular disease, whereas long telomeres increase the risk of another category of diseases related to increased proliferative growth, including major cancers. To understand the role of telomere biology in ageing-related diseases, it is essential to expand telomere research to newborns and children and seek further insight into the underlying causes of the variation in TL due to ancestry and geographical location.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Understanding diversity in telomere dynamics’.
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