Tag Archives | Economics

The Time Traveler: George Church Plans to Bring Back a Creature That Went Extinct 4,000 Years Ago


via Recode:

The engineers and scientists spilling out of Greater Boston’s world-class universities built the foundations of the modern computing era and amassed the densest cluster of life sciences companies in the world. The region lost some of its most promising startups to Silicon Valley, famously including Facebook. But business is booming — and researchers and entrepreneurs there are aiming far higher than the next social network. This Re/code special series takes a closer look at past, present and future innovation in the region.

On March 15, 2013, genetic engineer George Church stood in the middle of a circular red rug onstage at the Gilbert H. Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington, D.C., describing a detailed plan for bringing a six-ton, 10-foot, fur-covered creature back from the dead.

By splicing genes responsible for traits like thicker hair, subcutaneous fat and curving tusks into the DNA of an Asian elephant, Church hopes to revive the long-extinct woolly mammoth, or at least create a version of the modern elephant that really likes the cold.

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French Publishers Think They Can Fix Online Advertising By Suing The Company Behind AdBlockPlus

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via Tech Dirt:

The debate over ad blockers continues, all without gaining much ground in terms of coherence. Most people still find ads annoying, something that plays hell with websites’ attempts to make money by utilizing them. Ad blockers kick these intrusive nuisances to the curb (and block questionable scripts), prompting website owners to make regrettable decisions like blocking users of ad blockers or banning any discussion of ad blocking software, etc. Responses like these seem to emanate from the brainstem rather than from careful consideration, and generally do more to alienate readers than screen-eating splash ads and flash-heavy sidebars that slow systems to a crawl.

So, who’s going to pay for all of this “free” content? That’s the question on many site owners’ minds. Subscriptions, paywalls, data mining, patronage, physical goods tie-ins… all of these are options. Not a single one of these is perfect and none of them have enough pull of their own to completely displace ad revenue.

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“Riddles” Surround 36th Dead Banker Of The Year

via Global Research:

52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack – a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals – was described as ‘impeccable’, ‘sporty’, ‘cared-for’, and ‘successful’ and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrounded by riddles…

Tack disappeared on November 5th…

 Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to the 52-year-old from the Belgian Geert Tack Haaltert.

Geert Tack worked as a private banker for ING and managed portfolios of wealthy clients. The Belgian was much respected in the financial world and was known as an up and top professional. His sudden disappearance had the effect of a bombshell. “If Tack himself was having trouble he has managed to keep it well hidden”, colleagues say.

Nobody then could have guessed that the man would not return on Wednesday, November 5th to his wife in their villa Vondelen.

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Anyone Can Now Use IBM’s Watson To Crunch Data For Free

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via ZDNet:

IBM has launched the public beta of Watson Analytics, its set of cloud-based predictive and analytics tools.

The move to public beta for Watson Analytics on Thursday follows its private beta launch this September. IBM said at the time of the beta release the service will be made available under a freemium model through iOS, Android mobile devices and the web.

Watson Analytics is a cognitive service that’s meant to bear some of the load executives face when preparing data, while making it easier to run predictive analyses and use “visual storytelling”, such as using graphs, maps and infographics to illustrate a point.

Watson Analytics is one piece of IBM’s $1bn gamble that it can commercialise Watson. The company claims it has 22,000 registrations for Watson Analytics since launching in September.

Read More: http://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-watson-analytics-enters-public-beta/

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Ralph H. Baer, a father of video gaming, dies at 92

Baer is credited with developing the pattern-matching game Simon.

Baer is credited with developing the pattern-matching game Simon.

via Washington Post:

At the dawn of the television age in 1951, a young engineer named Ralph Baer approached executives at an electronics firm and suggested the radical idea of offering games on the bulky TV boxes.

“And of course,” he said, “I got the regular reaction: ‘Who needs this?’ And nothing happened.”

It took another 15 years before Mr. Baer, who died Dec. 6 at 92, developed a prototype that would make him the widely acknowledged father of video games. His design helped lay the groundwork for an industry that transformed the role of the television set and generated tens of billions of dollars last year.

Mr. Baer “saw that there was this interesting device sitting in millions of American homes — but it was a one-way instrument,” said Arthur P. Molella, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

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After 35 Years I Tried Magic Mushrooms Again—Here’s What Happened

Darron Birgenheier (CC by-sa 2.0)

Darron Birgenheier (CC by-sa 2.0)

via Reset.me:

Though I began researching Acid Test, a book about the revival of research into the use of psychedelic drugs for healing, in 2007, my interest in the subject really began 30 years earlier, when I was a college student at the University of Florida. The UF campus is surrounded by a rural landscape, including thousands of acres of palmetto and pine-studded pasturage used to raise cattle. My friends and I had learned to slip gingerly through barbed wire fencing and, keeping an eye out for shotgun-wielding ranchers, hunt for recently deposited piles of cow dung, from which sometimes sprouted the creamy, brown-tipped caps of psilocybin mushrooms. We plucked the mushrooms with rising excitement, as if we were pulling nuggets of pure gold from a mountain stream instead of fungi from cow shit. We knew the power contained within. Steep them in a pot with tea and drink, and before long we would see the world, and ourselves, from a novel vantage point.

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Why Elon Musk’s Batteries Scare the Hell Out of the Electric Company

Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)

Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)

via Bloomberg:

Climate: Now or Never

Here’s why something as basic as a battery both thrills and terrifies the U.S. utility industry.

At a sagebrush-strewn industrial park outside of Reno, Nevada, bulldozers are clearing dirt for Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA)’s battery factory, projected to be the world’s largest.

Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, sees the $5 billion facility as a key step toward making electric cars more affordable, while ending reliance on oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At first blush, the push toward more electric cars looks to be positive for utilities struggling with stagnant sales from energy conservation and slow economic growth.

Yet Musk’s so-called gigafactory may soon become an existential threat to the 100-year-old utility business model. The facility will also churn out stationary battery packs that can be paired with rooftop solar panels to store power. Already, a second company led by Musk, SolarCity Corp.

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Altamont at 45: The most dangerous rock concert

Screengrab from a video stream which shows a static photograph of Meredith Hunter shortly before being stabbed to death.

Screengrab from a video stream which shows a static photograph of Meredith Hunter shortly before being stabbed to death.

via BBC:

The Altamont concert, with its notorious murder caught on film, occurred 45 years ago. Many consider it to be the end of the ‘60s, Owen Gleiberman writes.

Forty-five years ago, on 6 December 1969, a free rock concert headlined by The Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway outside San Francisco devolved into a disaster of violence that instantly took on mythical status. Virtually overnight, Altamont became the anti-Woodstock, the rock dream turned nightmare, the official last nail in the coffin of the ’60s. It’s always easy, of course, to overload a single event with symbolism, but it’s hard to deny that Altamont truly was all of those things. Shortly after the Stones began their set, a member of the California Hells Angels – who were loosely hired to police the event – committed a gruesome murder right in front of the stage, stabbing a drugged-out youth named Meredith Hunter several times in the back.

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World should be skeptical of China’s announcement to end organ harvesting from executed prisoners by January 1, 2015

Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Dafoh:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2014 — Just days before International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10th, the news that the People’s Republic of China will end its internationally-condemned practice of harvesting organs from prisoners by 1 January 2015 is hardly credible given the government’s long history of breaking similar promises, according to the global humanitarian watchdog group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting.

There is no indication that China, under the current circumstances, will be able to live up to its latest promise, which was reported Thursday in state media. The Chinese Medical Association first made this promise in 2007, a year before the Olympic Games were held in Beijing. Multiple plans to end the inhumane practice that harvests and allocates organs in secrecy—which is disproportionately aimed at political prisoners, and members of ethnic and religious minorities like the Falun Gong—have followed ever since, all of them unfulfilled.

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Rocket Fuel from Human Waste

Matt Biddulph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Matt Biddulph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via IEEE Spectrum:

Getting rid of human waste has been a problem for NASA since the earliest days of space exploration. That’s why the U.S. space agency is funding researchers to figure out how to transform such waste into rocket fuel for future space missions.

The human waste of astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station has usually been dumped with other trash in space capsules that burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, according to SPACE.com. But engineers in Florida have developed a anaerobic digester process that can turn such organic waste into biogas—a mix of methane and carbon dioxide. Additional processing can also create water and oxygen.

“The idea was to see whether we could make enough fuel to launch rockets and not carry all the fuel and its weight from Earth for the return journey,” said Pratap Pullammanappallil, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville, in a press release. “Methane can be used to fuel the rockets.

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