Remember where you were when you heard or read about this. It’s important.
In a breakthrough effort for computational biology, the world's first complete computer model of an organism
has been completed, Stanford researchers reported last week in the
journal Cell. A team used data from more than 900 scientific papers to
account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life
cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium, the world's smallest free-living bacterium.
is this a whole lot more than your run of the mill bioscience
breakthrough? Until now, knowing the ways and means of a bazillion
sub-reactions and gears and wheels did not combine into a clear model of
a whole organism. This is a true Frankenstein moment... in the best meaning of the term! In that before, all we had were countless non-living pieces on the work bench.
Now... we know how to put them together. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.
No, seriously. Bwa-haha.
On the Verge of Creating Artificial Life. In his book, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life, Venter explores these issues -- the challenges and controversies we will face as we head toward biological engineering of genes - and creating digital lifeforms….
Indeed, scientists are now working to create the first digital life form -- by peering into the code of life. OpenWorm is an open source computer simulation aimed at creating a virtual roundworm -- the caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegant), a microscopic nematode. This simulation will encompass every single neuron in the worm, and every connection between neurons. The result? Watching worm behavior emerge from the data simulation.
In related news: Caltech researchers have created an artificial jellyfish
from rat cells and sheets of silicone polymer. It can mimic the
swimming motion of natural jellyfish via electrical stimulation which
causes rapid contraction of the rat heart muscle cells.
powerful demonstration of engineering chimaeric systems of living and
non-living components," says Joseph Vacanti of Massachusetts General
Hospital. The team hopes to reverse-engineer other marine lifeforms.
Along those lines, take a look at Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, by George M. Church and Ed Regis -- a look at how scientists will selectively alter the genomes of living organisms to…increase longevity, cure disease or …. even bring back extinct species.
==Science forges on! (Now to get politics to come along)==
you wish it were possible to transform American politics enough to calm
down the "war on science" and transform it - instead - into a debate
That's one goal of the good folks at Science Debate,
who urge that matters of science and technology and the future be put
on the agenda of candidates for high office, especially during the
looming presidential debates. If we could get just one evening when the
focus would be on the very forces -- from energy to innovation, climate
change to the internet -- that drive change and propel so many
challenges? Front and center? Exposing the intelligent cogency - or lack
- in the men seeking to guide us into uncharted waters? Please visit
the site. Even better, sign the petition and viral it.
that brilliant - but alas, unlikely, event - the folks at
ScienceDebate.org have polled dozens of top scientific groups to come up
with The Top American Science Questions in 2012 -- the most important science policy issues facing the United States. Whatever your affiliation, this year do spend the time to look them over and then do send them on to your local candidates for Congress and assembly and so on.
Try it. Then note who actually bothers to answer.
==On the Transparency Front==
BikeCams: Cyclists have long had a rocky coexistence with motorists and pedestrians. Now some cyclists are wearing helmet-mounted cameras to record their encounters, exactly as portrayed in The Transparent Society.
baby monitors to closed circuit television, 2.4 GHz video transmitters
are in many consumer products these days. And yet, most owners of these
video devices don't realize they're transmitting an unencrypted video
signal that can be picked up by anyone.
See how one activist is offering these feeds on lamp post boxes to increase public awareness... in stunning correlation with scenes in my new novel EXISTENCE. In a project, From Surveillance to Broadcast,
Benjamin Gaulon has posted boxes on street corners, recording video
feed that can be accessed, to increase public awareness of the
capabilities of this technology.
No more hiding behind anonymity? YouTube is fighting against idiotic and often nasty/racist/sexist commenters by calling for full names when
you upload or comment on videos. We seem to be caught between a rock
and a hard place. Anonymity protects free speech... and unleashes the
most vicious instincts from truly awful people. Is there any way we
could get to hold onto some accountability and feedback loops that
encourage maturity and decency... while still keeping the most important
benefits of anonymity? (As it happens, I have a way, and someone could make millions while solving the problem...)
=== A Miscellany of Science News ===
Two shock waves in space, intersecting, might create a “regularity singularity” - interesting general relativity.
The National Ignition Facility completed a 500 terrawatt laser fusion shot. Wow.
Move to Kansas City right now! Google announced plans to build the gigabit network
back in February of 2010 and thousands of municipalities competed to be
the future home of the planned network. In March, it selected Kansas
City as the first test of a network running fiber-optic cables directly
to homes, and delivering Internet speeds roughly 100 times faster than
the national broadband average. Watch for details next week. (In Existence I briefly describe a completely unused, potentially fecund "right of way" into nearly every home!)
Watch an impressive and inspiring film about cetaceans and research into whales - with unbelievable photography - by Fabrice Schnoller and a team of French researchers.
Yes... science marches on. Let's stay worthy of it.