Archive | Science

Politics can interact with evolution to shape human destiny

Image from page 47 of "The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex" (1871)

Image from page 47 of “The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex” (1871)

Press Release via Eureka Alert:

Politics can have unintentional evolutionary consequences that may cause hastily issued policies to cascade into global, multigenerational problems, according to political scientists.

“Most western democracies look at policies as if they are bandages, we fix what we can and then move on,” said Pete Hatemi, associate professor of political science, Penn State. “But we need to consider generational policies so that we can fix what we can now, but also be prepared for what comes next.”

The researchers said that there is an interaction between political and cultural forces and evolutionary results. Genes can shape culture and political institutions, which in turn can shape biology and physiology, passing on certain traits to future generations. The environment’s influence on adaptation and how it changes biology is better known and often easier to observe, said Hatemi, but the way culture can affect gene expressions in future generations is often harder to show and may take longer to reveal itself.

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‘Data smashing’ could automate discovery, untouched by human hands

Anthony Topper (cc by 2.0)

Anthony Topper (cc by 2.0)

via Kurzweil: Accelerating Intelligence:

From recognizing speech to identifying unusual stars, new discoveries often begin with comparison of data streams to find connections and spot outliers. But simply feeding raw data into a data-analysis algorithm is unlikely to produce meaningful results, say the authors of a new Cornell study.

That’s because most data comparison algorithms today have one major weakness: somewhere, they rely on a human expert to specify what aspects of the data are relevant for comparison, and what aspects aren’t.

But these experts can’t keep up with the growing amounts and complexities of big data.

So the Cornell computing researchers have come up with a new principle they call “data smashing” for estimating the similarities between streams of arbitrary data without human intervention, and even without access to the data sources.

Read More: http://www.kurzweilai.net/data-smashing-could-automate-discovery-untouched-by-human-hands

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The Replicator Is Still Sci-Fi, But Here’s A Start

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via Gizmodo:

The dream of the Replicator-a machine that can create or copy any object-has mesmerized us ever since Star Trek used one to conjure a glass of water out of thin air. Yet, like so much other sci-fi tech invented by show business, it’s always been just out of reach. The 3D printer company XYZ Printing wants to change that.

What Is It?

XYZ is a one-year-old Taiwanese company that has found a niche in offering 3D printers at bargain-basement prices ($500 for a one-color model). But today, the company is launching its ambitious next step: The Da Vinci 1.0 AiO-or All-in-One. For $800, you get the bones of XYZ’s Da Vinci 1.0 model 3D printer, which prints one color of ABS or PLA filament on a bed that can fit objects up to 6 inches by 6 inches. But in addition to the printer, the AiO includes laser scanner at its base that lets it record and digitize objects as well as print them.

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My Brief and Curious Life As a Mechanical Turk

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via Gizmodo:

As accomplished as modern-day computers are, there are some very basic things even the smartest machines have yet to master: tough judgment calls, advanced image recognition, making goofy faces, conducting psychological surveys. These are an assortment of tasks we humans can still claim as our own. Or at least, that we can outsource to other, less fortunate humans. Like me.

In Amazon’s words, Mechanical Turk is “a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence.” But in reality it’s even simpler than that description implies: It’s a job board where the pay is low and the jobs are dumb. If you have a functional cerebral cortex, an internet connection, and a few minutes to spare, you can pick up a handful of odd jobs—the oddest of jobs—and make a few bucks, pennies, and nickels at a time. But what’s it like to be that “human intelligence?” As I found out last year, it’s weird, fascinating, perplexing, and a little depressing, all at once.

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Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin, Says Black Swan Author

By Rebecca W via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

By Rebecca W via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

Written by The Physics arXiv Blog via Medium:

It is 20 years since the FDA approved the Flavr Savr tomato for human consumption, the first genetically engineered food to gain this status. Since then, genetically modified food has become a significant part of the human diet in many parts of the world, particularly in the US. In 2013 roughly 85 per cent of corn and 90 per cent of soybeans produced in the US were genetically modified.

Given the ubiquity of this kind of foodstuff, you could be forgiven for thinking that the scientific debate over its safety has been largely settled. It is certainly true that a large number of scientists seem to take that view. In 2012, for example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science declared that genetically modified crops pose no greater risk than the same foods made from crops modified by conventional plant breeding techniques.

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What Is Consciousness and Do Humans Have a Monopoly on It?

By Insomnia Cured Here via Flickr (CC by-sa 2.0)

By Insomnia Cured Here via Flickr (CC by-sa 2.0)

via News Junkie:

There has not been so much excitement about the effect of electricity on the human body since Luigi Galvani discovered that an electrical stimulation of the nerves in the leg muscles of a dead frog caused it to kick. These early experiments inspired Mary Shelley in 1818 to write Frankenstein, a brilliant allegory about the need for men – especially male scientists and poets of the romantic era – to take responsibility for their creation.

Those who have not read about the book’s monster, which is more Dr. Frankenstein than his creation, and only know of the Hollywood version, should compare the two and ponder how much art has been trivialized for the screen. Indeed, the book’s full title was Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, and the title page featured the verse from John Milton’s Paradise Lost:

“Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man?

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Cyborg engineers, virtual doctors and wristbands to detect cancer: Futurologist reveals how tech will transform healthcare

By Sean MacEntee via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Sean MacEntee via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via The Daily Mail:

Within the next 30 years, the global population is set to increase by almost 3 billion up to 10 billion, and this rise is set to put a heavy burden on the healthcare industry.

Futurologist Peter Cochrane has predicted how he believes the world will cope with this extra demand, and which technologies are set to revolutionise medical treatment over the next 25 years. 

His forecasts include lighting that helps people recover from illness, virtual surgeries and wearables that detect cancer molecules.

Read More: Daily Mail

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3D printing may make individualized medicine more affordable

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via Medical News Today:

The latest innovation in medical 3D printing is a 3D printer that could one day make customized medicines on demand, currently under development by the University of Central Lancashire in Preston in the UK.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) team says that the machine – which is awaiting a patent application – can “print” a tablet with a precise quantity of medicine that can be taken by a patient.

Although the printer can reproduce existing drugs, available in drugstores and hospitals, the UCLan team says that the main advantage of the printer is that it could potentially tailor-make drugs specific to a patient’s needs.

“3D printing has been embraced by lots of different industries,” says Dr. Mohamed Albed Alhnan from UCLan’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, “but we have shown how this technology can be harnessed to improve medical care, providing low-cost, personally tailored medicines for patients.”

Read More: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284381.php

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Einstein’s Gravity Waves Could Be Found with New Method

This illustration depicts the gravitational waves generated by two black holes orbiting each other. Credit: NASA

This illustration depicts the gravitational waves generated by two black holes orbiting each other.
Credit: NASA

via Live Science:

Gravitational waves, invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time, might be detected by looking for the brightening of stars, researchers say.

These mysterious ripples were first proposed by Albert Einstein as part of his theory of general relativity. The waves’ size depends on the mass of the objects creating them.

“Gravitational waves are emitted by accelerating masses,” said lead study author Barry McKernan, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Really big waves are emitted by really big masses, such as systems containing black holes merging with each other. [See images of gravitational waves]

Scientists have still not made direct observations of gravitational waves, although researchers continue to endeavor to detect them using experiments involving lasers on the ground and in space.

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