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Archive for the ‘evolution’ category

Jan 17, 2017

Messy Chemistry, Evolving Rocks, and the Origin of Life

Posted by in categories: chemistry, evolution

Noted synthetic life researcher Steven Benner of Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution is fond of pointing out that gooey tars are the end product of too many experiments in his field. His widely-held view is that the tars, made out of chemicals known to be important in the origin of life, are nonetheless a dead end to be avoided when trying to work out how life began.

But in the changing world of origins of life research, others are asking whether those messy tars might not be a breeding ground for the origin of life, rather than an obstacle to it.

One of those is chemist and astrobiologist Irena Mamajanov of the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) in Tokyo. As she recently explained during an institute symposium, scientists know that tar-like substances were present on early Earth, and that she and her colleagues are now aggressively studying their potential role in the prebiotic chemical transformations that ultimately allowed life to emerge out of non-life.

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Jan 14, 2017

Body-Pierced Gadget Turns You Into a Human Compass

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, internet, neuroscience, transhumanism

Liviu Babitz is not content waiting around for evolution to improve upon his human form. Like other transhumanists, Babitz believes that science and technology can take a person’s intelligence, physical performance and psychological state to the next level, all in less than the span of a single lifetime.

To that end, he helped develop North Sense, a small silicone gadget that detects magnetic north. This is not a GPS device, nor a tracker. It’s not even connected to the Internet nor any other network. This is a new sensory organ designed to be pierced to a person’s body and vibrate each time the wearer faces magnetic north.

The idea is that over time, the brain will assimilate the vibration into the everyday human experience, enhancing it. That will open a person up to a world that exists beyond his or her own current capabilities.

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Jan 9, 2017

How CRISPR gene editing puts scientists in the driver’s seat of evolution

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, evolution

CRISPR can help us end many diseases and guide evolution and is probably one of the most powerful tools we have recently added to our toolkit.


Imagine you could edit a mouse’s genes to be resistant to Lyme Disease. The mouse would breed and evolution would take its course, leading to the extinction of the disease. That’s the vision for scientists developing CRISPR, technology that allows scientists to rewrite the code of life. William Brangham talks to Michael Specter who wrote about CRISPR for The New Yorker.

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Jan 7, 2017

Peter Diamandis Thinks We’re Evolving Toward “Meta-Intelligence”

Posted by in categories: biological, evolution, neuroscience, Peter Diamandis

In Brief

  • Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, thinks the human species is headed for an evolutionary transformation.
  • The evolution of life has slowly unfolded over 3.5 billion years; but its pace has rapidly increased in recent years. Diamandis believes this heralds the next, exciting stages of human evolution.

In the next 30 years, humanity is in for a transformation the likes of which we’ve never seen before—and XPRIZE Foundation founder and chairman Peter Diamandis believes that this will give birth to a new species. Diamandis admits that this might sound too far out there for most people. He is convinced, however, that we are evolving towards what he calls “meta-intelligence,” and today’s exponential rate of growth is one clear indication.

In an essay for Singularity Hub, Diamandis outlines the transformative stages in the multi-billion year pageant of evolution, and takes note of what the recent increasing “temperature” of evolution—a consequence of human activity—may mean for the future. The story, in a nutshell, is this—early prokaryotic life appears about 3.5 billion years ago (bya), representing perhaps a symbiosis of separate metabolic and replicative mechanisms of “life;” at 2.5 bya, eukaryotes emerge as composite organisms incorporating biological “technology” (other living things) within themselves; at 1.5 bya, multicellular metazoans appear as eukaryotes are yoked together in cooperative colonies; and at 400 million years ago, vertebrate fish species emerge onto land to begin life’s adventure beyond the seas.

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Jan 4, 2017

Evolution Chart Bacteria to humans in only 3.5 Billion years

Posted by in category: evolution

A .gif image. Evolution Chart Bacteria to humans in only 3.5 Billion years.

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Dec 21, 2016

The perfect Christmas gift? A nanoscale snowman

Posted by in categories: evolution, food, nanotechnology, particle physics

Happy Holidays; happy end of the year, happy launch of next year, happy snow days, happy hot chocolate day, etc. Nonetheless, my gift to you this year is a Nanoscale Snowman.


Would a jewel-encrusted snowman make the perfect Christmas present? At only 5 nanometres in size, the price might be lower than you think. And it’s functional too, catalysing the splitting of water to make green hydrogen for fuel cells.

The nanoparticle, as imaged with the aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopes, features eyes, nose and mouth of precious-metal platinum clusters embedded in a titanium dioxide face. Each platinum cluster typically contains 30 platinum atoms; within the whole nanoparticle there are approximately 1680 and 180 platinum atoms.

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Dec 21, 2016

Herbal medicine may make tuberculosis easier to treat

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution

Herbs treating Tuberculosis.


A centuries-old herbal medicine, discovered by Chinese scientists and used to effectively treat malaria, may help treat tuberculosis and slow the evolution of drug resistance.

A new study shows the ancient remedy artemisinin stopped the ability of TB-causing bacteria, known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to become dormant. This stage of the disease often makes the use of antibiotics ineffective.

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Nov 22, 2016

What are Molecular Machines?

Posted by in categories: economics, evolution, food, information science, internet, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

Machines lace almost all social, political cultural and economic issues currently being discussed. Why, you ask? Clearly, because we live in a world that has all its modern economies and demographic trends pivoting around machines and factories at all scales.

We have reached the stage in the evolution of our civilization where we cannot fathom a day without the presence of machines or automated processes. Machines are not only used in sectors of manufacturing or agriculture but also in basic applications like healthcare, electronics and other areas of research. Although, machines of varying types had entered the industrial landscape long ago, technologies like nanotechnology, the Internet of Things, Big Data have altered the scenario in an unprecedented manner.

The fusion of nanotechnology with conventional mechanical concepts gives rise to the perception of ‘molecular machines’. Foreseen to be a stepping stone into nano-sized industrial revolution, these microscopic machines are molecules designed with movable parts that behave in a way that our regular machines operate in. A nano-scale motor that spins in a given direction in presence of directed heat and light would be an example of a molecular machine.

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Nov 14, 2016

We’ve Figured Out How to Program Living Cells

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, evolution, genetics

In Brief:

Researchers at MIT have developed an easy-to-use “biological programming language” that allows genetic engineers (or just about anyone) to design biological circuits and “hack” the genomes of living cells.

The evolution of human technology has proceeded in lockstep with the biological evolution of our species. For millions of years we were content with our primitive Oldowan choppers and Acheulean bifaces; in the Neolithic, we started playing with more sophisticated tools, and the Bronze and Iron ages followed in quick succession.

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Nov 7, 2016

Supernovas Close to Home

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution

The death throes of nearby stars might have influenced evolution on Earth.

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