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Jun 1, 2016

Jeff Bezos thinks we need to build industrial zones in space in order to save Earth

Posted by in categories: solar power, space, sustainability

It’s about solar power.

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May 31, 2016

5 Reasons To Leave The Solar System?

Posted by in category: space travel

The only real reason to leave the solar system is arguably for science and exploration. But to actually make our interstellar dreams a reality, we also need to get serious about interstellar propulsion with solid funding and a willingness to pursue any credible idea to its logical conclusion.


Aside from your candidate losing the election, what other reasons would you have for not only leaving Earth — but the solar system itself? Here are five possible drivers to escape the surly bonds of our own heliopause.

— To search for mineral riches

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May 31, 2016

TruthSift: A Platform for Collective Rationality

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, computing, disruptive technology, education, existential risks, information science, innovation, science, scientific freedom

“So there came a time in which the ideas, although accumulated very slowly, were all accumulations not only of practical and useful things, but great accumulations of all types of prejudices, and strange and odd beliefs.
Then a way of avoiding the disease was discovered. This is to doubt that what is being passed from the past is in fact true, and to try to find out ab initio again from experience what the situation is, rather than trusting the experience of the past in the form in which it is passed down. And that is what science is: the result of the discovery that it is worthwhile rechecking by new direct experience, and not necessarily trusting the [human] race[’s] experience from the past. I see it that way. That is my best definition…Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.“
–Richard P Feynman, What is Science? (1968)[1]

TruthSift.com is a platform designed to support and guide individuals or crowds to rationality, and make them smarter collectively than any unaided individual or group. (Free) Members use TruthSift to establish what can be established, refute what can’t be, and to transparently publish the demonstrations. Anyone can browse the demonstrations and learn what is actually known and how it was established. If they have a rational objection, they can post it and have it answered.

Whether in scientific fields such as climate change or medical practice, or within the corporate world or political or government debate, or on day to day factual questions, humanity hasn’t had a good method for establishing rational truth. You can see this from consequences we often fail to perceive:
Peer reviewed surveys agree: A landslide majority of medical practice is *not* supported by science [2,3,4]. Scientists are often confused about the established facts in their own field [5]. Within fields like climate science and vaccines, that badly desire consensus, no true consensus can be reached because skeptics raise issues that the majority brush aside without an established answer (exactly what Le Bon warned of more than 100 years ago[6]). Widely consulted sources like Wikipedia are reported to be largely paid propaganda on many important subjects [7], or the most popular answer rather than an established one [8]. Quora shows you the most popular individual answer, generated with little or no collaboration, and often there is little documentation of why you should believe it. Existing systems for crowd sourced wisdom largely compound group think, rather than addressing it. Existing websites for fact checking give you someone’s point of view.

Corporate or government planning is no better. Within large organizations, where there is inevitably systemic motivation to not pass bad news up, leadership needs active measures to avoid becoming clueless as to the real problems [9]. Corporate or government plans are subject to group think, or takeover by employee or other interests competing with the mission. Individuals who perceive mistakes have no recourse capable of rationally pursuading the majority, and may anyway be discouraged from speaking up by various consequences[6].

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May 31, 2016

Gravitational waves may reveal stringy Universe

Posted by in category: quantum physics

Pattern of gravitational waves may reveal string theory’s remnant strings.

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May 31, 2016

Can 3D printing brain tumours help fight cancer?

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, neuroscience

Good question.


Tiny balls of cancerous cells are being printed off by researchers at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh who hope it can provide new ways of testing drugs and studying brain cancers.

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May 31, 2016

Startup Nervana joins Google in building hardware tailored for neural networks

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Computationally intensive neural network workloads have created a gap that both Google and Nervana address with custom silicon.

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May 31, 2016

China’s Quantum Satellite Next Month to Make China Communications Difficult to Crack

Posted by in categories: quantum physics, satellites, security

As the world is wary about cyber hackers in China, the next big thing for it is launching an experimental quantum communication satellite in July that was designed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), making it first of its kind.

Since quantum communications assure the highest level of security being hard to replicate or separate. Nor can it be reverse engineered as it involves a complex process employing quantum entanglement. Once it is successful, China can be sure that no one can crack into its security networks, making it impossible for any world power to snoop around.

Developed over the last five years, the quantum satellite will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center with four ground stations to track and facilitate communication. Moreover, it will have one space quantum teleportation experiment station, said a report prepared by CAS.

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May 31, 2016

Startups and Pendulum Swings Through Ideas, Time, Fame, and Money — By a16z | Soundcloud

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, bitcoin, business, virtual reality

May 31, 2016

Use of next-generation gene sequencing in NICUs may improve diagnosis of rare diseases

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

The use of next-generation gene sequencing in newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) may improve the diagnosis of rare diseases and deliver results more quickly to anxious families, according to new research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

“Next-generation sequencing has the potential to transform the practice of clinical genetics rapidly,” writes Dr. David Dyment, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), with coauthors. “In particular, newborns admitted to the NICU with rare and complex diseases may benefit substantially from a timely molecular diagnosis through next-generation sequencing.”

Children with suspected rare genetic diseases usually undergo a battery of tests to determine a molecular diagnosis. Current practice involves testing of specific genes or a panel of genes, and these tests are often done outside the country because of limited availability within Canada. This means it may be months or even years before a diagnosis is made.

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May 31, 2016

Gene Duplication: New Analysis Shows How Extra Copies Split the Work

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution

Word cloudThe human genome contains more than 20,000 protein-coding genes, which carry the instructions for proteins essential to the structure and function of our cells, tissues and organs. Some of these genes are very similar to each other because, as the genomes of humans and other mammals evolve, glitches in DNA replication sometimes result in extra copies of a gene being made. Those duplicates can be passed along to subsequent generations and, on very rare occasions, usually at a much later point in time, acquire additional modifications that may enable them to serve new biological functions. By starting with a protein shape that has already been fine-tuned for one function, evolution can produce a new function more rapidly than starting from scratch.

Pretty cool! But it leads to a question that’s long perplexed evolutionary biologists: Why don’t duplicate genes vanish from the gene pool almost as soon as they appear? After all, instantly doubling the amount of protein produced in an organism is usually a recipe for disaster—just think what might happen to a human baby born with twice as much insulin or clotting factor as normal. At the very least, duplicate genes should be unnecessary and therefore vulnerable to being degraded into functionless pseudogenes as new mutations arise over time.

An NIH-supported team offers a possible answer to this question in a study published in the journal Science. Based on their analysis of duplicate gene pairs in the human and mouse genomes, the researchers suggest that extra genes persist in the genome because of rapid changes in gene activity. Instead of the original gene producing 100 percent of a protein in the body, the gene duo quickly divvies up the job [1]. For instance, the original gene might produce roughly 50 percent and its duplicate the other 50 percent. Most importantly, organisms find the right balance and the duplicate genes can easily survive to be passed along to their offspring, providing fodder for continued evolution.

Continue reading “Gene Duplication: New Analysis Shows How Extra Copies Split the Work” »