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Archive for the ‘biological’ category

Oct 20, 2017

Synthetic Biology and Evolution

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, evolution

Darwinian evolution is old-fashioned. Bioengineering raises new principles for the creation of life but, to what extent can we dispense with the past of our biology.

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Oct 16, 2017

Inspired by Octopus Skin, Engineers Develop a Programmable “Camouflaging” Material

Posted by in categories: biological, materials

WOODS HOLE, Mass.—For the octopus and cuttlefish, instantaneously changing their skin color and pattern to disappear into the environment is just part of their camouflage prowess. These animals can also swiftly and reversibly morph their skin into a textured, 3D surface, giving the animal a ragged outline that mimics seaweed, coral, or other objects it detects and uses for camouflage.

This week, engineers at Cornell University report on their invention of stretchable surfaces with programmable 3D texture morphing, a synthetic “camouflaging skin” inspired by studying and modeling the real thing in octopus and cuttlefish. The engineers, along with collaborator and cephalopod biologist Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, report on their controllable soft actuator in the October 13 issue of Science.

Led by James Pikul and Rob Shepherd, the team’s pneumatically activated material takes a cue from the 3D bumps, or papillae, that cephalopods can express in one-fifth of a second for camouflage, and then retract to swim away with minimal hydrodynamic drag. (See video below of live Octopus rebescens expressing its skin papillae.)

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Oct 15, 2017

The nature of warfare is changing. It’s time governments caught up

Posted by in categories: energy, evolution, military

The future of military success will now be owned by those who conceive, design, build and operate combinations of information-based technologies to deliver new combat power. Caution, bureaucratic inertia, vested interest and institutional preference for evolution won’t work: this will only leave room for competitors to steal decisive advantage in the most challenging of competitions on Earth.


Unless the private and public sectors start sharing ideas, the UK will be left behind in the new arms race says former Joint Forces Command chief Richard Barrons.

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Oct 12, 2017

Food From Electricity project bears its first protein-rich “fruit”

Posted by in categories: biological, food

A Finnish research project has created a batch of single-cell protein using just electricity, water, carbon dioxide and microbes, in a small portable lab. While we’re hesitant to call it “food” in its current state, the stuff is edible and nutritious enough to be used for cooking or livestock feed, and the team hopes that the system can eventually be used to grow food in areas where it’s needed the most.

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Oct 12, 2017

Contrasting Human Futures: Technotopian or Human-Centred?*

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cyborgs, education, homo sapiens, human trajectories, philosophy, posthumanism, robotics/AI, singularity, Singularity University, transhumanism

[*This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of Paradigm Explorer: The Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network (Established 1973). The article was drawn from the author’s original work in her book: The Future: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2017), especially from Chapters 4 & 5.]

We are at a critical point today in research into human futures. Two divergent streams show up in the human futures conversations. Which direction we choose will also decide the fate of earth futures in the sense of Earth’s dual role as home for humans, and habitat for life. I choose to deliberately oversimplify here to make a vital point.

The two approaches I discuss here are informed by Oliver Markley and Willis Harman’s two contrasting future images of human development: ‘evolutionary transformational’ and ‘technological extrapolationist’ in Changing Images of Man (Markley & Harman, 1982). This has historical precedents in two types of utopian human futures distinguished by Fred Polak in The Image of the Future (Polak, 1973) and C. P. Snow’s ‘Two Cultures’ (the humanities and the sciences) (Snow, 1959).

What I call ‘human-centred futures’ is humanitarian, philosophical, and ecological. It is based on a view of humans as kind, fair, consciously evolving, peaceful agents of change with a responsibility to maintain the ecological balance between humans, Earth, and cosmos. This is an active path of conscious evolution involving ongoing psychological, socio-cultural, aesthetic, and spiritual development, and a commitment to the betterment of earthly conditions for all humanity through education, cultural diversity, greater economic and resource parity, and respect for future generations.

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Oct 9, 2017

Evolution of Video Game Graphics 1962–2017

Posted by in categories: entertainment, evolution

Click on photo to start video.

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Oct 9, 2017

MouseAge: Visual Biomarker for Mouse Aging

Posted by in categories: biological, life extension, robotics/AI

MouseAge (https://www.lifespan.io/mouseage) is creating the first photographic biomarker system using the power of artificial intelligence.

The goal of MouseAge is to create a system capable of determining the age of mice without the need for invasive or even harmful tests.

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Oct 7, 2017

The mystery of Stephen Paddock’s brain

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience

Stephen Paddock’s brother has speculated, “something went wrong in his head.” David Eagleman asks, what precisely was it? We know little about Paddock but quite a bit about biological factors that can be associated with violent behavior, Eagleman says”

“David Eagleman directs the Center for Science and Law and is an adjunct professor of neuroscience at Stanford University. He is the writer and presenter of the PBS series, “The Brain with David Eagleman,” and the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.”

‘In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock’s brother Eric speculated, “something went wrong in his head.” But what precisely was it?”

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Oct 7, 2017

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 Awarded for Cryo-Electron Microscopy

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, nanotechnology

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 to Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Joachim Frank (Columbia University, New York, USA) and Richard Henderson (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK) “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution”.

We may soon have detailed images of life’s complex machineries in atomic resolution. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 is awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for the development of cryo-electron microscopy, which both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules. This method has moved biochemistry into a new era.

A picture is a key to understanding. Scientific breakthroughs often build upon the successful visualisation of objects invisible to the human eye. However, biochemical maps have long been filled with blank spaces because the available technology has had difficulty generating images of much of life’s molecular machinery. Cryo-electron microscopy changes all of this. Researchers can now freeze biomolecules mid-movement and visualise processes they have never previously seen, which is decisive for both the basic understanding of life’s chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals.

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Oct 2, 2017

Meet the Extensionists: People Who Believe Immortality Is Possible

Posted by in categories: biological, genetics, life extension, neuroscience

Leading women’s magazine Marie Claire has a feature story on life extension out this month (approx 1.5 million circulation):


Forget about life after death. More and more, women around the country are seeking another kind of miracle: not dying at all.

What if you could hit the pause button on aging? Live to 120 without feeling a day over 80? More radical still, what if you could cheat death? Would you do it?

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