Australian researchers have isolated an immune system cell in salamanders which helps it regenerate missing limbs and damaged organs — and they suspect the same thing could work in humans, too. Salamanders, or axolotls, are unique among vertebrates in that they’ve got remarkable regenerative powers. Adults can literally regrow and restore function to any part of the body, including the spinal cord and heart — even parts of the brain. Moreover, the regenerated tissue is scar free; once repaired, the new tissue looks almost the same as it was before.
Say goodbye to global warming, toxic waste, and dependency on fossil fuels, and get ready to enjoy better health with novel drugs that could one day cure most diseases and extend lifespan indefinitely.
I had been anxiously awaiting Stewart Brand’s scheduled talk at The Long Now which he gave this last Tuesday. Revive and Restore Brand’s project which will explore the prospect of bringing back extinct species is just the latest project of this intellectual maverick and pied-piper of the digital, and what may now be the opening rounds of the biological age. Brand has been a sort of weathervane for the cultural winds of American, or rather a very influential subset of American culture.
First, before getting down to science, congratulations to my bro Kim Stanley Robinson, for winning this year's Nebula Award for best novel. 2312is an epic that spans the solar system and a myriad fascinating ideas. And felicitations also to the other Nebulists - the delightful/brilliant Nancy Kress and the talented Andy Duncan and Aliette de Bodard. Learn more at the SFWA site.
Risk Bites was originally conceived as a way of pulling some rather cool insights into the science behind human health risks out of dusty halls of academia and into the real world. Watching the meteoric rise of YouTube science channels like MinutePhysics and SciShow, I couldn’t help wondering why universities weren’t having the same success with the medium, and whether there was a way of bridging the gap between the educational establishment, and the online education counterculture.
The impact of new technologies on the economy is a hot topic right now. Just a few years ago, the idea of machines replacing human labor was widely dismissed, but now a growing number of pundits and economists are expressing concerns about the impact of automation technologies and the possibility of technological unemployment.
One of the most common anti-Transhumanist tropes one finds recurring throughout Transhumanist rhetoric is our supposedly rampant hubris. Hubris is an ancient Greek concept meaning excess of pride that carries connotations of reckless vanity and heedless self-absorbment, often to the point of carelessly endangering the welfare of others in the process. It paints us in a selfish and dangerous light, as though we were striving for the technological betterment of ourselves alone and the improvement of the human condition solely as it pertains to ourselves, so as to be enhanced relative to the majority of humanity.
Consider the Abolition Society, the Abolitionists Against Suffering group on facebook, and the philosophy of Dr. David Pearce, who is "a British utilitarian philosopher and transhumanist, who promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life.
Science is the pursuit of knowledge according to the scientific method: hypotheses must be testable, and results must be verifiable by replication. Obviously, the more quantifiable something is, the more accurate and precise its measurement can be, and the more accurate and precise something is, the more testable and verifiable it is – it’s hard to test and then verify an uncertain or vague something-or-other.
When it comes to matters of individual conscience, Washington State voters have a don’t-mess-with-us attitude that makes Texans look like cattle—and it goes way back. In 2012 Washington voters flexed their muscle by legalizing recreational marijuana use and marriage for same-sex couples.
Did you know that Apple Computer was a foreign entity? Did you know that it’s more Irish than anything else, at least as far as taxes are concerned? Or that it pays very little in income tax, even though its products wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for projects funded by U.S. taxes?
When I drive from home to work, none of the land I pass is wild. It’s lawns, or parks, or part of the city. On my drive in, I can see the Olympic Mountains as I crest the hill and head down toward the Kirkland waterfront. They are a mash up of native lands, national parks, and beach cities. Forks, the city of the Twilight books, is over there. The Olympics are largely wild, but they are managed carefully. I suspect there is no land in the whole mountain range that is not owned. Someone – a person, a government, a tribe, a company – someone manages everything I can see.
Geoengineering has an image problem. Some proposed geoengineering projects, such as space mirrors or cloud seeding, seem like they come from the pages of a science fiction novel. Those who propose these projects are treated with belittling rhetoric. Other projects face a different type of imaging problem; the project’s proponents are accused of having vague or unspecified goals and timelines. Such projects are summarily dismissed as being idealistic, out of touch or nebulous.
One of the things that has always struck me as different — and not in a good way — in the United States compared to other Western countries is the way Americans think (and act) about crime, particularly their prison system. Recently, my colleagues Ken Taylor (Stanford) and John Perry (University of California-Riverside) have tackled the issue on their wonderful podcast, Philosophy Talk (which comes with an associated blog, the tagline of which is cogito, ergo blog), causing me to ponder some more disturbing thoughts about it.
By around mid-century, many future followers predict the pace of technological progression in genetics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence will become so fast that humans will undergo radical evolution. Advances that provide a forever youthful and healthy state of being could be realized.
In Khannea SunTzu remarkable new novel she’ll never write - The NeoProgressive’s New Deal - the leader character, Cassandra Assange (Daughter of Julian Assange, born in 2003), is the target of literal micro drone assassination attempts, a vicious media campaign and endless incapacitating litigation. She became a political activist like her father in the mid 2020s, and exemplified the new counter-cultural ideal. Militantly lesbian and technoprogressive she gave birth of a clone of her wife, and her wife gave birth to a clone of Cassandra in the late 2020s.
When I was a kid there was a series on Nostradamus narrated by an Orson Welles surrounded in cigar smoke and false gravitas. I had not seen The Man Who Saw Tomorrow for over 30 years, though thanks to the miracle of Youtube I was able to find it here. Amazingly enough, I still remember Part 9 of the series in which the blue- turbaned, Islamic, 3rd antichrist allied with the Soviet Union plunges the world into thermonuclear war. I also remember the ending- scenes of budding flowers and sunshine signaling the rebirth of nature and humanity, a period of peace and prosperity to last 1,000 years.
Amid fretful resignation, we learn of the likely loss of the magnificent Kepler mission...which discovered as many as three thousand planets beyond our solar system. (About 10% of them now confirmed.) Only two of the four gyro systems are still working, not enough for the probe to aim at more than a hundred thousand stars with uncanny accuracy, each day. While this will be a sad loss, the epoch introduced by the Kepler Mission bodes well for you understanding of the universe.
It's another blow for immersive virtual reality. University of California researchers have shown that even people with perfect eyesight navigate the world by relying on a lot more than what they see. Here's why VR won't really work until we go beyond visual cues and fancy treadmills.
As reactions continue to race around the internet about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery – the actual discussions, not the Monday-morning quarterbacking of her decision or the utterly vile “but what about her boobies” reaction from that particular subgroup of men who manage to amaze me by their continued ability to manage basic functions like breathing – I’ve been sent links.
I have been doing public outreach for science since I originally moved to Tennessee in 1996. It has been a fun ride, and I’m sure it will continue to be that way for many years to come. But two of the first things I learned when debating creationists and giving talks about the nature of science were: a) nastiness doesn’t get you anywhere; and b) just because you have reason and evidence on your side doesn’t mean you are going to carry the day.
As we trek through the next decade, older citizens might look in the mirror and wonder, “Who is that gorgeous creature?” Their reflection would reveal a body filled with enthusiasm, sporting a dazzling smile, wrinkle-free skin, perfect vision, natural hair color, real teeth, and an amazing sharp mind and memory.
Biologists have successfully extended the life spans of some mice by as much as 70%, leading many to believe that ongoing experimentation on our mammalian cousins will eventually lead to life-extending therapies in humans. But how reliable are these studies? And do they really apply to humans? We asked the experts.
It’s not enough to point out that our political system is completely corrupted by money, including money from coal and oil and nukes and gas. Of course it is. And if we had direct democracy, polls suggest we would be investing in green energy. But saying the right thing to a pollster on a phone or in a focus group is hardly the extent of what one ought sensibly to do when the fate of the world is at stake.
In total, Africa’s growth rate has averaged well above 5% in the past decade, after 20 difficult years of flat and often negative growth in several countries. The challenge for the continent in the coming years is whether Africa will be able to maintain these impressive growth rates, and whether future growth will be built on the types of productivity enhancements that are associated with rising living standards.