Have any of you rushed out and bought the latest (June) issue of DISCOVER MAGAZINE? It’s well worth the cover price! (And spread the word.)
There are a few mistranscriptions. At one point it should say” “Try to imagine when biochemists do to their room sized labs what cyberneticists did to room-size computers of the past.” (The way they printed it doesn’t make any sense!) Still, it’s cool and you’ll catch a glimpse of my office.
Again, alas, amid a month that is hellishly busy, I have fallen terribly behind, so here’s a huge data dump of “cool items.”
-- Scientific research conducted by Walker Reading Technologies has concluded that the natural field of focus for our eyes is circular, so our eyes view the printed page as if we’re peering through a straw. Every time we read block text, we’re forcing our brain to a wage a constant subconscious battle with itself to filter and discard the superfluous inputs. Randall Walker MD, believes he and his team have developed a solution with a product called that allows online publishers to improve reading speed and comprehension. Live Ink works by analyzing written language for meaning and language structure, and then applies algorithms that reformat the text into a series of short, cascading phrases. It breaks complex syntax into simpler syntax, which makes it easier for the brain to absorb the material.
-- After more than a quarter-century of market-oriented economic policies and record-setting growth, China recently approved its first law to protect private property explicitly. The measure, which was delayed a year ago amid vocal opposition from resurgent socialist intellectuals and old-line, left-leaning members of the ruling Communist Party, is viewed by its supporters as building a new and more secure legal foundation for private entrepreneurs and the country's urban middle-class.
-- Physics professors have definitively shown that light is made of particles and waves, a finding that refutes a common belief held for about 80 years. Previously, the scientific community had tended to support Niels Bohr’s ideas, commonly known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, which stated that in any experiment light shows only one aspect at a time, either behaving as a wave or as a particle.
-- Microscopic medical devices could one day be steered through a patient's bloodstream using magnetic resonance imaging machines.
-- The spread of a particularly virulent form of tuberculosis in South Africa illustrates a breakdown in the global program that is supposed to keep the disease, one of the world’s deadliest, under control.
-- Mosquitoes genetically engineered to resist infection with malaria have outbred their normal cousins and may be used to help control malaria. Also long overdue for extinction -- the reflex lefty dogma against GM, which is just about as loony as anything believed by the far-right, including “intelligent design.”
-- A fascinating demonstration of leading-edge technology with numerous potential applications.
-- See this kinda cool video (1min) which gives the “secret of immortality.”
-- Commonly used lab bacteria called E. coli can be converted into light-harvesting organisms in a single genetic step, according to new research from MIT.
-- Citizendium, just launched, is intended to avoid the errors, juvenile vandalism, and lack of accountability of Wikipedia. Citizendium's volunteer contributors will be expected to provide their real names. Experts in given fields will be asked to check articles.
-- Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Santa Barbara genetically engineered mice to express a third, humanlike photoreceptor, giving them human color vision. Can they do the same for humans? Turns out some people may actually have a fourth photoreceptor that detects within the visible range at a slightly different wavelength range than the other three.
-- In Google Inc.'s vision of the future, people will be able to translate documents instantly into the world's main languages, with machine logic, not expert linguists, leading the way.
-- Human Heart Grown from Stem Cells -- (Guardian - April 2, 2007) A research team led by the world's leading heart surgeon has grown part of a human heart from stem cells for the first time. If animal trials scheduled for later this year prove successful, replacement tissue could be used in transplants for the hundreds of thousands of people suffering from heart disease within three years.
-- Alzheimer's Vaccine Works on Mice -- (Guardian - March 29, 2007) Scientists have developed an oral vaccine for Alzheimer's disease that has proved effective in mice, raising hopes that an effective treatment for humans can be found. The vaccine reduced the amount of amyloid plaques - believed to be the cause of Alzheimer's - and improved brain function when administered to mice that had been genetically modified to develop the disease
-- Enzymes Convert All Donor Blood to Group O -- (New Scientist - April 1, 2007) You're rushed into hospital and need a blood transfusion – but what is your blood group? In future, it may not matter, thanks to enzymes that scrub antigens from red blood cells, turning all donated blood into group O – which can be given safely to anyone.
-- Welcome to the singularity. Actually, I find very little of that presentation frightening. What I find frightening is that so many of our fellow citizens find the future frightening. And thus, they may do unfortunate reactionary things.
-- Remember the odd, six-sided, honeycomb-shaped feature circling the entire north pole of Saturn? Then there is WC 922: The Red Square Nebula "What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be imbedded in a nebula with just such a shape..."
An interesting amateur investigation of the proposition that human knowledge has been doubling at an accelarationg rate:
-- My friend Ben Goertzel explicates his optimism for superhuman AI in the near future at Ray Kurzweil’s site.
-- From the Arlington Institute” “This twenty minute video was constructed almost entirely using government/military quotes, animations, videos, images and photos. The narrative is sourced from government quotes from start to finish. It unveils the government’s numerous and ongoing programs related to artificial intelligence., “NBIC”, the “Global Information Grid”, nanotechnology, biotechnology, autonomous drones, “naval sea-bases”, space weapons and weather modification. The makers of the video clearly had an agenda that exceeded mere information. Leaving aside the agenda, the video is nonetheless an introduction into types of technology that many civilians know little about.”
-- Thanks Zecharia for referring us to an article about cell phones being upgraded with sensors to detect Chemical/Nuclear/Biological threats. Smart mobs! Where’s that prediction registry?
-- Do we even have to be restricted to five senses?
-- Old dreams are reborn... Pentagon Considering Study on Space-Based Solar Power.
-- Finally. By now you all know that astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system for the first time. I’ve commented before that water would still have a hard time pooling in large quantities, even if size and insolation are right, because a planet with a 13 day “year” around a red dwarf would be tidally locked, with one side always sunlit and another always dark, pulling in and freeze-storing all the water in vast ice sheets.
Still, here are the numbers:
Star Gl 581
Distance: 6.26 pc
Spectral Type: M3
Apparent Magnitude: V = 10.55
Mass: 0.31 Msun
Age: 4.3 Gyr
Radius: 0.38 Rsun
Metallicity [Fe/H]: -0.33 (Â± 0.12)
Right Ascension: 15 19 26
Declination: -07 43 20
Planet Gliese 581c
M.sin i: 0.0152 MJ
Semi major axis: 0.073 AU
Orbital period: 12.91 (Â± 0.007) days