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Aug 3, 2016

Would it be immoral to send out a generation starship?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, ethics, food, health, neuroscience, security, space travel

If human beings are ever to colonise other planets – which might become necessary for the survival of the species, given how far we have degraded this one – they will almost certainly have to use generation ships: spaceships that will support not just those who set out on them, but also their descendants. The vast distances between Earth and the nearest habitable planets, combined with the fact that we are unlikely ever to invent a way of travelling that exceeds the speed of light, ensures that many generations will be born, raised and die on board such a ship before it arrives at its destination.

A generation ship would have to be a whole society in microcosm, with hospitals and schools, living quarters and perhaps entertainment districts, a security force, maybe even a judiciary. It would need to be able to provide food for its crew, and that might require agriculture or aquaculture, perhaps even domestic animals (which might also be needed for the colonisation effort). Its design therefore presents a major challenge: not just to engineers but also to social scientists. How should the crew be selected and the environment structured to minimise interpersonal conflict? What size of population is optimal for it to remain committed to the single overarching project of colonising a new planet without too much of a risk of self-destructive boredom or excessive narrowing of the gene pool? Does mental health require that a quasi-natural environment be recreated within the ship (with trees, grass and perhaps undomesticated birds and small animals)?

As well as the technological and social challenges confronting the designers of such ships, there are fascinating philosophical and ethical issues that arise. The issue I want to focus on concerns the ethics of a project that locks the next generation into a form of living, the inauguration of which they had no say over, and that ensures their options are extremely limited.

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Aug 3, 2016

Gogoro starts an electric scooter-sharing program in Berlin — By Sean O’Kane | The Verge

Posted by in categories: energy, environmental, transportation

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“Gogoro is bringing 200 of its stylish all-electric scooters to Berlin. Starting today, anyone over 21 with a valid driver’s (or motorcycle) license will be able to rent one of the scooters as part of a new scooter-sharing program”

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Aug 3, 2016

Zoltan Istvan, Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidate

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, transhumanism

This has been a top trending video on SF Gate (the San Francisco Chronicle’s main website) for a few days now: http://video.sfgate.com/Zoltan-Istvan-Transhumanist-Party-Pr…e-31214223 The story is here and was also shared by Drudge Report: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Chip-en…694149.php


Biohacker says the U.S. Needs a Science Party Source: SFGate.com

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Aug 3, 2016

Google is Developing ‘Bioelectronic Medicines’ to Try And Cure Chronic Illnesses

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, electronics

Verily and GlaxoSmithKline have partnered to form Galvani Bioelectronics, a new company which will focus on the research, development, and commercialization of bioelectronics. One of the first projects will be to develop a precision device that can fix type 2 diabetes.

Verily, formerly known as Google Life Sciences, is partnering with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to develop bioelectronic medicines that can “harness electrical signals in the body to treat chronic disease.”

The collaboration marries GSK’s pharmaceutical expertise with Verily’s prowess in developing tiny low power electronics. The unification will result in a new company called Galvani Bioelectronics, after Italian scientist Luigi Aloisio Galvani who was an early pioneer of bioelectricity.

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Aug 3, 2016

CRISPR could help scientists rewrite human DNA, develop perfect ‘being’

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Is the “perfect human” a realistic goal? Well, a new scientific process promises to tweak selected bits of your DNA.

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Aug 3, 2016

This guy used over 80,000 old photos to create a Google Street map of New York City in the 1800s

Posted by in category: mapping

New York City has a long and sprawling history, but looking at the city today, it’s hard to tell what it looked like in the past. Luckily, an enterprising coder has solved that problem by creating a Google Street View map for New York City for the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Developer Dan Vanderkam collaborated with the New York Public Library to plot all the old photos from the Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection on an interactive map.

The project, called OldNYC, lets you browse 19th-century New York as easily as you would click around on Google Maps. The collection contains over 80,000 original photographs.

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Aug 3, 2016

IBM creates world’s first artificial phase-change neurons

Posted by in category: biological

Gear & Gadgets — IBM creates world’s first artificial phase-change neurons They behave like biological neurons, including low power usage and dense scaling.

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Aug 3, 2016

Universal cancer vaccine on horizon after genetic breakthrough

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics, particle physics

A universal cancer vaccine is on the horizon after scientists discovered how to rewire immune cells to fight any type of disease.

The potential new therapy involves injecting tiny particles of genetic code into the body which travel to the immune cells and teach them to recognise specific cancers.

Although scientists have shown previously that is it is possible to engineer immune cells outside the body so they can spot cancer it is the first time it has happened inside cells.

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Aug 3, 2016

Tesla acquires sister firm SolarCity for $2.6 billion

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, solar power, sustainability, transportation

Tesla buys SolarCity.


(Reuters) — SolarCity Corp agreed to be acquired by sister company Tesla Motors Inc in a deal worth $200 million less than the initial offer, sending shares of both companies down in early trading on Monday.

Electric vehicle maker Tesla expects to achieve “significant” cost savings and “dramatic improvements” in manufacturing efficiency as a result of the acquisition of solar panel installer SolarCity, Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Monday.

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Aug 3, 2016

The Boom Goes On: China’s Electric Car Sales Up 162% So Far This Year

Posted by in category: transportation

The spectacular growth of the New Energy Vehicle (NEV) market in China continues; state media reports that sales were up a massive 162% to 170,000 units in the first half of the year. NEVs include pure-electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

The 170,000 NEVs were divided by 134,000 EVs and 36,000 PHEVs.

The new numbers confirm China’s position as the largest market worldwide for NEVs. The United States follows at a respectable distance in second place with sales of 64,000 EVs and PHEVs.

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