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Archive for the ‘biological’ category: Page 85

May 17, 2009

Dr. Moreau outlawed in LA — Panel Votes to Outlaw Human-Animal Hybrids

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, human trajectories

U.S. News and World Report — May 12, 2009, by KEVIN McGILL

BATON ROUGE, La.—Combining human and animal cells to create what are sometimes called “human-animal hybrids” would be a crime in Louisiana, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, under legislation approved Tuesday by a state Senate panel.

Scientific researchers in some areas have tried to create human embryonic stem cells, which scientists say could be used to develop treatment for a variety of human ailments, by placing human DNA into animal cells. But such practices are controversial for a number of reasons.

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May 4, 2009

Forever Young

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, futurism, human trajectories, media & arts, space

(Crossposted on the blog of Starship Reckless)

Eleven years ago, Random House published my book To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek. With the occasion of the premiere of the Star Trek reboot film and with my mind still bruised from the turgid awfulness of Battlestar Galactica, I decided to post the epilogue of my book, very lightly updated — as an antidote to blasé pseudo-sophistication and a reminder that Prometheus is humanity’s best embodiment. My major hope for the new film is that Uhura does more than answer phones and/or smooch Kirk.

Coda: The Infinite Frontier

star-trekA younger science than physics, biology is more linear and less exotic than its older sibling. Whereas physics is (mostly) elegant and symmetric, biology is lunging and ungainly, bound to the material and macroscopic. Its predictions are more specific, its theories less sweeping. And yet, in the end, the exploration of life is the frontier that matters the most. Life gives meaning to all elegant theories and contraptions, life is where the worlds of cosmology and ethics intersect.

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May 3, 2009

Swine Flu Update: are we entering an Age of Pandemics?

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, nanotechnology, space, sustainability

May 2: Many U.S. emergency rooms and hospitals crammed with people… ”Walking well” flood hospitals… Clinics double their traffic in major cities … ER rooms turn away EMT cases. — CNN

Update May 4: Confirmed cases of H1N1 virus now at 985 in 20 countries (Mexico: 590, 25 deaths) — WHO. In U.S.: 245 confirmed U.S. cases in 35 states. — CDC.

“We might be entering an Age of Pandemics… a broad array of dangerous emerging 21st-century diseases, man-made or natural, brand-new or old, newly resistant to our current vaccines and antiviral drugs…. Martin Rees bet $1,000 that bioterror or bioerror would unleash a catastrophic event claiming one million lives in the next two decades…. Why? Less forest, more contact with animals… more meat eating (Africans last year consumed nearly 700 million wild animals… numbers of chickens raised for food in China have increased 1,000-fold over the past few decades)… farmers cut down jungle, creating deforested areas that once served as barriers to the zoonotic viruses…” — Larry Brilliant, Wall Street Journal


Apr 29, 2009

DIYbio.org

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, chemistry, education, engineering, ethics, human trajectories, open access, open source

About

DIYbio is an organization that aims to help make biology a worthwhile pursuit for citizen scientists, amateur biologists, and DIY biological engineers who value openness and safety. This will require mechanisms for amateurs to increase their knowledge and skills, access to a community of experts, the development of a code of ethics, responsible oversight, and leadership on issues that are unique to doing biology outside of traditional professional settings.

What is DIYbio in 4 minutes?

Get Involved

You can read about current events and developments in the DIYbio community by reading or subscribing to the blog.

Get in contact or get involved through discussions on our mailing list, or by attending or hosting a local DIYbio meetup.

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Apr 5, 2009

On Being Bitten to Death by Ducks

Posted by in categories: biological, complex systems, education, ethics, futurism, policy

(Crossposted on the blog of Starship Reckless)

Working feverishly on the bench, I’ve had little time to closely track the ongoing spat between Dawkins and Nisbet. Others have dissected this conflict and its ramifications in great detail. What I want to discuss is whether scientists can or should represent their fields to non-scientists.

There is more than a dollop of truth in the Hollywood cliché of the tongue-tied scientist. Nevertheless, scientists can explain at least their own domain of expertise just fine, even become major popular voices (Sagan, Hawkin, Gould — and, yes, Dawkins; all white Anglo men, granted, but at least it means they have fewer gatekeepers questioning their legitimacy). Most scientists don’t speak up because they’re clocking infernally long hours doing first-hand science and/or training successors, rather than trying to become middle(wo)men for their disciplines.

prometheus

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Mar 12, 2009

Crowdsourced Women’s Health Books Released by CureTogether

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, information science, open access, open source

Over 300 Women Share Experiences, Treatments for Painful, Common Chronic Conditions

CureTogether, a Health 2.0 Startup based in Silicon Valley, has released the first crowdsourced books on vulvodynia and endometriosis: two common, poorly understood conditions causing daily pain for millions of women. Assembled from the input of 190 and 137 women living with these respective conditions, “Vulvodynia Heroes” and “Endometriosis Heroes” are the product of an ongoing online research study at http://www.curetogether.com.

“Patients came together and decided what symptoms and treatments they wanted to track. They went on to diligently gather detailed, quantitative data on their bodies and experiences,” said Alexandra Carmichael, co-Founder of CureTogether. “The hope of this book is to spread awareness, reach out to people in pain who may not have heard of endometriosis, and increase interest and funding for future research.”

“These heroes are pioneers not just in investigating their own condition, but in developing self-cure practices that others can follow.”, said Gary Wolf, Contributing Editor of Wired and Blogger at The Quantified Self. “Many other women who are suffering will find this very helpful and inspiring,” said Elizabeth Rummer, MSPT at the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco. A patient with endometriosis added, “This is great. I am just starting to really appreciate what awesome power CureTogether can have.”

Endometriosis is a painful chronic condition that affects 5–10% of women, and vulvodyna affects up to 16% of women at some point in their lives. They are two of the most active condition communities at CureTogether, with information about symptoms, treatments, and causes added by over 300 women. The books are available at http://www.curetogether.com/VHeroes and http://www.curetogether.com/EHeroes.

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Jan 13, 2009

The New Rise of Online Health Tracking

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, futurism, open source

Tracking your health is a growing phenomenon. People have historically measured and recorded their health using simple tools: a pencil, paper, a watch and a scale. But with custom spreadsheets, streaming wifi gadgets, and a new generation of people open to sharing information, this tracking is moving online. Pew Internet reports that 70–80% of Internet users go online for health reasons, and Health 2.0 websites are popping up to meet the demand.

David Shatto, an online health enthusiast, wrote in to CureTogether, a health-tracking website, with a common question: “I’m ‘healthy’ but would be interested in tracking my health online. Not sure what this means, or what a ‘healthy’ person should track. What do you recommend?”

There are probably as many answers to this question as there are people who track themselves. The basic measure that apply to most people are:
- sleep
- weight
- calories
- exercise
People who have an illness or condition will also measure things like pain levels, pain frequency, temperature, blood pressure, day of cycle (for women), and results of blood and other biometric tests. Athletes track heart rate, distance, time, speed, location, reps, and other workout-related measures.

Another answer to this question comes from Karina, who writes on Facebook: “It’s just something I do, and need to do, and it’s part of my life. So, in a nutshell, on most days I write down what I ate and drank, how many steps I walked, when I went to bed and when I woke up, my workouts and my pain/medication/treatments. I also write down various comments about meditative activities and, if it’s extreme, my mood.”

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Oct 8, 2008

Global Catastrophic Risks: Building a Resilient Civilization

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, chemistry, cybercrime/malcode, defense, events, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, military, nanotechnology, nuclear weapons, robotics/AI

November 14, 2008
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/eventinfo/ieet20081114/

Organized by: Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology and the Lifeboat Foundation

A day-long seminar on threats to the future of humanity, natural and man-made, and the pro-active steps we can take to reduce these risks and build a more resilient civilization. Seminar participants are strongly encouraged to pre-order and review the Global Catastrophic Risks volume edited by Nick Bostrom and Milan Cirkovic, and contributed to by some of the faculty for this seminar.

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Sep 19, 2008

Open Source Health Research Plan

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, lifeboat, open access, open source

Open source has emerged as a powerful set of principles for solving complex problems in fields as diverse as education and physical security. With roughly 60 million Americans suffering from a chronic health condition, traditional research progressing slowly, and personalized medicine on the horizon, the time is right to apply open source to health research. Advances in technology enabling cheap, massive data collection combined with the emerging phenomena of self quantification and crowdsourcing make this plan feasible today. We can all work together to cure disease, and here’s how.

Read more…

Sep 2, 2008

Threats to humanity – the old and the resurgent

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, geopolitics

Following is a discussion of two potential threats to humanity – one which has existed for eons, the second we have seen recently resurfacing having thought it had been laid to rest.

First, a recent story on PhysOrg describes the work researchers at Vanderbilt University have performed in isolating antibodies from elderly people who had survived the 1918 flu pandemic. This comes three years after researchers at Mount Sinai and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C isolated the same virus which caused this outbreak from the frozen bodies of people in Alaska who had died in the pandemic.

In addition to being an impressive achievement of biomedical science, which involved isolating antibody-secreting B cells from donors and generating “immortalized” cell lines to produce large amounts of antibodies, this research also demonstrates the amazing memory the immune system has (90 years!), as well as the ability scientists have to use tissue samples from people born nearly a century ago and fashion them into a potential weapon against future similar outbreaks. Indeed, these manufactured antibodies proved effective against 1918 flu virus when tested in mice.

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