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– Conference Announcement
– From Think Links
– The Future in the News…Today
Transhumanity Saving Humanity – Inner Space to Outer Space: a conference to be held in Chicago, July 22-26, 2007. The conference will feature three full days of dialogue with the greatest minds of today about creating the civilizations of tomorrow. TV07 brings extraordinary people from across the globe together with more than 30 distinguished speakers, entertainers and visionaries including: award-winning inventor, futurist, author Raymond Kurzweil; acclaimed longevity scientist, Aubrey de Grey; and Emmy award winning actor, William Shatner. For further information, please see http://www.transvision2007.com/
Here is a quick menu of the conference:
- Day One: Donics
- Day Two: Meta space: Transforming Humanity – Environment, Global Warming, Sustainable Housing, Alternative Energy, AI, Roboticay One: Inner space: Transforming Ourselves – Longevity, Life Extension, Nanotech, Nanomedicine, Bionics, Biotech, SENS, Crys, Virtual Reality
- Day Three: Outer space: Beyond the Planet – Future Humans, Colonizing Outer space, Space Tourism, Future Civilizations
As a friend of TAI, you are eligible for a 40% discount on the conference registration fee. Just enter BlackOps as the promo code to get the special discount.
- The $73.5 billion global biotech business may soon have to grapple with a discovery that calls into question the scientific principles on which it was founded.
- Scientists have uncovered a biological switch by which stress can promote obesity, a discovery that could help explain the world’s growing weight problem.
- Coming up with seven politically feasible strategies to maintain greenhouse gasses at current levels is no simple matter. But there are some ideas on the horizon.
- In Portugal, the Robotarium X is the first zoo dedicated to artificial life.
The $73.5 billion global biotech business may soon have to grapple with a discovery that calls into question the scientific principles on which it was founded. Researchers have found that the human genome might not be a “tidy collection of independent genes”, with each sequence of DNA linked to a single function, like a predisposition to diabetes or heart disease. Instead, genes appear to operate in a complex network, and interact and overlap with one another and with other components in ways not yet fully understood. Biologists have recorded these network effects for many years in other organisms. But in the world of science, discoveries often do not become part of mainstream thought until they are linked to humans.
This 10 minute video is a Neal Adams animation about his theory that the Earth is growing. This idea sheds an interesting light on the Pangea theory which states that all present continents were once together and collectively known as a ‘supercontinent’ called a Pangaea, (‘all lands’ in Greek). We do not vouch for the quality of the science here – merely that it is thought provoking.
Testing revealed that genetically modified rice contained a strain of Liberty Link that had not been approved for human consumption. What’s more, trace amounts of the Liberty Link had mysteriously made their way into the commercial rice supply in all five of the Southern states where long-grain rice is grown: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri. By then the tainted rice was everywhere. If in the past year or so you ate Uncle Ben’s, Rice Krispies, or Gerber’s, or drank a Budweiser – Anheuser-Busch is America’s biggest buyer of rice – you probably ingested a little bit of Liberty Link, with the unapproved gene. Just what happened here is a long, shaggy dog story and worth the read to glimpse a larger picture.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have developed a cell-transistor interface allowing cells to be manipulated and studied without destroying them in the process. Living cells were grown atop an array of transistors, thereby enabling the silicon chip to monitor the cell activity directly. The chip was used to test the effect of new drugs on the living cells. The results were then read out instantly from the chip, in an application that the researchers said could hasten drug development.
Scientists have uncovered a biological switch by which stress can promote obesity, a discovery that could help explain the world’s growing weight problem, lead to new ways to melt flab and manipulate fat for cosmetic purposes. In experiments on mice, researchers showed that the neurochemical pathway they identified promotes fat growth in chronically stressed animals that eat the equivalent of a junk-food diet. “By treating the mice the way humans are treated, which is introducing a chronic stress from which they cannot escape and introducing this abundance of high fat food, we mimicked what happens in American society,” a researcher said.
The discovery of a baby mammoth preserved in the Russian permafrost gives researchers their best chance yet to build a genetic map of a species extinct since the Ice Age. The mammoth, a female who died at the age of six months, was named “Lyuba” after the wife of reindeer breeder and hunter Yuri Khudi who found her in Russia’s Arctic Yamalo-Nenetsk region. She had been lying in the frozen ground for up to 40,000 years.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has released a report highlighting the risks of human implantable RFID microchips. The report contains safety and privacy warnings – as the chips have never been thoroughly tested, despite in 2004 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) giving the go-ahead for the use of human implantable chips, causing outrage among medical professionals and privacy advocates. The full text of the report presented by Robert M. Sade, MD, Chair of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs is included.
Synthetic life could be just around the corner – depending on what you mean by “synthetic”. Genomics pioneer Craig Venter has announced that his team has passed an important milestone in its efforts to create a bacterial cell whose genome is entirely synthetic – constructed chemically from the building blocks of DNA. Venter claims this goal could be achieved within months. But while Venter’s synthetic genome will be housed within an existing bacterial cell, other scientists are aiming for the even more ambitious target of building an entire living cell from the basic chemical ingredients.
The first baby created from an egg matured in the lab, frozen, thawed and then fertilised, has been born. Until now it was not known whether eggs obtained in this way could survive thawing to be fertilized. The findings hold particular hope for patients with cancer-related fertility problems.
A Canadian mother has frozen her eggs for use by her seven-year-old daughter, who is likely to become infertile. Should the girl opt to use the eggs and gain regulatory approval, she would have a baby that was genetically her half-brother or sister. Critics said the work, presented at a fertility conference in Lyon, was deeply concerning.
DISCOVERIES ENABLED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY
A single hydrogen atom has been snipped off a molecule and then added back on again, marking the first time a single chemical bond has been broken and reforged in a controlled, reversible way. This kind of reversible alteration could be used in molecular electronics. if the bonding of a molecule like this could be reversibly changed from conducting to insulating, it could become a molecular switch.
The Functionalized Nanoporous Thin Films technology significantly expands and enhances sampling and testing capabilities, resulting in the ability to test water for virtually every heavy metal with potential to negatively affect human health and the environment. The Microchannel Gas-Liquid Processing Device manages heat and recovers water to balance consumption in fuel cell systems and fuel processors. The Universal Parsing Agent is a document analysis and transformation software program that accepts multiple information streams or datasets, finds and extracts the information needed, and delivers results in the format that will be most useful. It is adaptable to individual user needs, and can be used to identify and extract either specific or very broad ranges of information.
Here’s the good news about climate change: Energy and climate experts say the world already possesses the technological know-how for trimming greenhouse gas emissions enough to slow the perilous rise in the Earth’s temperatures. And the bad news: Because of the enormous cost of addressing global warming, the energy legislation considered by Congress so far will make barely a dent in the problem, while farther-reaching climate proposals stand a remote chance of passage.
In an exercise, Princeton students had to come up with a plausible strategy for keeping the 2050 greenhouse gas emissions level equal to today’s. Coming up with seven politically feasible strategies is no simple matter. Here are some of the choices.
250 years after Swedish scientist Carolus Linnaeus devised the means to catalogue the living Earth, with his system of sorting and naming, “we may have discovered at a crude guess 10% of the life forms on Earth,” said Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson. “Insects are the principal tillers of the soil, and without them this secret microbial universe in the soil would decline resulting in dwindling food sources [which] would bring out the beast in people…”
Los Angeles’ driest year in 130 years of record-keeping has just gone onto the books. The nation’s second-largest city is missing nearly a foot of rain for the year counted from July 1 to June 30. Just 3.21 inches have fallen downtown in those 12 months, closer to Death Valley’s numbers than the normal average of 15.14 inches. And it’s much the same all over the West, from the measly snow pack and fire-scarred Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada to Utah/Arizona’s shrinking Lake Powell.
Goats are used by many fire agencies to eat through underbrush. They’re especially helpful in areas where controlled burns are too risky or terrain is too difficult for humans to navigate. But the region has had so little rain that goats can’t survive on it unless they receive protein supplements.
Scientists using DNA extracted from ice buried deep below the surface have found evidence that a lush forest once existed in southern Greenland, a finding that sheds light on how climate change affects Earth’s frozen areas. Scientists had thought the area was last ice-free about 120,000 years ago during the last interglacial but the study showed southern Greenland was still covered in ice at that time. This suggests the southern Greenland ice sheet is more stable than thought and might not be as big a contributor to sea level rises caused by rising temperatures. This could force scientists to rethink their models looking at the impact of warming temperatures.
In recent weeks a steady stream of scientific reports from increasingly prestigious sources have all reinforced the same news: the Arctic ice is disappearing three times faster than the worst case scenarios used in the models. Here are several links from stories about the initial report from NCAR, published in the AGU journal on May 1st 2007, based on data from observations in the Arctic. This means that instead of having 50 to 100 years to avert climate catastrophe, we have more like 5 to 10 years to act decisively.
From “Aggravated Allergies” to “Rebounding Mountains” (The Alps and other mountain ranges have experienced a gradual growth spurt over the past century or so thanks to the melting of the glaciers atop them) to “Forest Fire Frenzy”, this is an insightful list.
By the end of the century, people in Philadelphia may swelter through as many as 30 days with temperatures higher than 100 degrees each summer. The Northeastern ski industry, except for western Maine, would probably go out of business. And spruce and hemlock forests — as well as songbirds such as the Baltimore oriole — would all but disappear from New Jersey to the Canadian border. These are among the conclusions reached by the Union of Concerned Scientists on the effects of global warming in the Northeast if current greenhouse gas emission patterns worldwide continue unabated.
If you put 45 different animals in the same cage, you might expect the larger critters to attack the smaller ones. In that sense, the inhabitants of a new zoo in Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal, are no exception. However, the Robotarium X is the first zoo dedicated to artificial life. Inside, legged, wheeled and slithering autonomous robots crawl around a 4-metre-high cage made of steel and glass.
A major challenge for pioneers in artificial intelligence has been to create a living neural network on an artificial substrate. Researching the field known as nanobiotechnology, Tel Aviv University scientists have shown that it is possible to store rudimentary memories in an artificial culture of live neurons. This is the first time that multiple rudimentary memories have been imprinted in neural networks cultured outside the brain and is a step toward a cyborg-like amalgamation of living material and memory chips.
A small coterie of devoted professionals and amateurs are working to make fully articulated, humanoid and even sinuously dancing robots a reality. It is likely that robots fully supported by flexible motorized spines will ultimately be able to interact with humans the way other humans do, using our “living infrastructure” rather than one tailored to the robots’ operational needs. “Due to the aging population worldwide (especially in Japan), there is a need for robots to be humanized in order to communicate more naturally and take care of the elderly,” one researcher observed.
The International Energy Agency, which monitors energy markets for the world’s 26 most-advanced economies, predicts that OPEC, which supplies more than 40% of the world’s daily oil needs, will have little spare capacity left by 2012; increases from non-OPEC oil producers and biofuel producers should start flagging after 2009; and natural-gas markets also will be tight because of inadequate supply increases, limiting the ability of consumers to switch between oil and natural gas.
If you want to know what is going on in the world of terrorism, threats, explosions, airline incidents, etc., this is the site to check. Click on any icon for full info at any time. Also, look at full details, by category, as you scroll down the page. The site updates every 360 seconds and has some good follow-ups.
The death toll for private contractors in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has topped 1,000, a stark reminder of the risks run by civilians working with the military in roles previously held by soldiers. Deaths and injuries among the growing ranks of civilians working in war zones are tracked on the basis of claims under an insurance policy, the Defense Base Act, which all U.S. contracting companies and subcontractors must take out for the civilians they employ outside the United States. Contrary to common perceptions, the majority of civilian contractors in the war zones are not Americans; foreigners have done most of the dying as the U.S. accelerated outsourcing functions previously performed by soldiers.
The Pentagon’s plans to create a new US military command based in Africa have hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves publicly with the US “global war on terror”. The proposed command’s security focus would include suspected terrorist training camps in Mali and southern Algeria, the spread of Islamic fundamentalist ideas and violence in the Maghreb, northern Nigeria and the Horn of Africa, suspected uranium smuggling in the Sahel region – and addressing the political instability and economic deprivation that fed extremism. Energy supply is another factor sparking heightened US interest, notably in west Africa. Gulf of Guinea countries including Nigeria and Angola are projected to provide a quarter of US oil imports within a decade.
Security Pros are hesitant to label Web attacks as “cyberterrorism” because of the volatile connotations of that phrase. But recent events in England and Russia point to an increased use of the Web to coordinate or launch such attacks aimed at cultural and political subversion. The “Electronic Jihad Program,” available via the jihadi Web site Al-jinan.org, is an application that can be used to target specific IP addresses for DOS attacks. The application includes a Windows-like interface that lets users choose from a list of target Web sites, select an attack speed (weak, medium, or strong), and then click on the “attack” button.
A wristwatch-based translation device, designed to help British soldiers overcome language barriers, could be in production by the end of the year. The voice recognition-based technology would aid troops and civilians in high-risk situations. It translates phrases such as “don’t shoot”, “stay back” and “help will be here soon”.
Tiny plastic fibers could be the key to some diverse technologies in the future – including self-cleaning surfaces, transparent electronics, and biomedical tools that manipulate strands of DNA. Researchers have created surfaces that, seen with the eye, look as flat and transparent as a sheet of glass. But seen up close, the surfaces are actually carpeted with tiny fibers.
Naturally occurring structures like birds’ bones or tree trunks are thought to have evolved over eons to reach the best possible balance between stiffness and density. But research shows that nanoscale materials self-assembled in artificially determined patterns can improve upon nature’s designs. The silica nanostructures thus may improve performance where increased pore volume is important. These include modern thin-film applications such as membrane barriers, molecular recognition sensors, and low-dielectric-constant insulators needed for future generation of microelectronic devices.
It appears that our solar system did not arise from the familiar band of stars known as the Milky Way galaxy, but rather from the little-known formation, the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy. With data from the Two-Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), astronomers are discovering that the Milky Way is consuming one of its neighbors in a dramatic display of ongoing galactic cannibalism. The study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, (March, 2003), is the first to map the full extent of the Sagittarius galaxy and show in vivid detail how its debris wraps around and passes through the Milky Way. Link to the abstract of the Astrophysical Journal article: http://www.citebase.org/abstract?id=oai%3AarXiv.org%3Aastro-ph%2F0304198
Our solar system is traveling in a different direction to the rest of the Milky Way, scientists say. The magnetic field in interstellar space is propelling our solar system along at a 60-90° angle to the rest of the galaxy. That’s happening because the part of the interstellar magnetic field that comes closest to our system is not parallel to the spiraling arms of the galaxy, as it appears to be elsewhere.
On or around July 2, 1947, something crashed in the desert near a military base at Roswell, New Mexico and military authorities issued a press release which began: “The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence officer of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc.” 24 hours later, the military said the object they’d first thought was a ‘flying disc’ was a weather balloon that had crashed on a nearby ranch. Lieutenant Walter Haut was the public relations officer at the base in 1947, and was the man who issued the original and subsequent press releases after the crash on the orders of the base commander, Colonel William Blanchard. Haut died last year, but left a sworn affidavit to be opened only after his death.
What if other, completely distinct forms of biology also took root on the early Earth? If so, maybe life arose more than once at different locations on the early Earth. Those other organisms might have their own biochemistry and a separate evolutionary history. They might not even use DNA—they could be, in essence, alien beings that just happened to emerge on the same planet. Which leads to the big question: What if one (or more) of those alternative forms of life is still around?
“Made in China.” Suddenly, that’s one of the most alarming phrases in the English language. This is a complex world in which no single person can grasp more than a tiny scrap of the economic and social systems that sustain us. We can no longer read the code. We don’t know the origin of the thing we hold in our hand. We have become end users of stuff we don’t understand that comes from factories we’ve never seen in cities we’ve never heard of. On the other hand, several of the biggest food safety scares of the past year were entirely domestic: spinach, then lettuce, then peanut butter.
The Pentagon owns more land in this country than America’s ten largest individual landowners; has 3,731 sites in its global “real property portfolio”; boasts around 587,900 “buildings and structures”; controls 20% of the Japanese island of Okinawa; has utilized 330,149 creatures for various types of experimentation in a single year; owns over 2,050 railcars; spent $6 million on sheet music, musical instruments, and accessories in 2005; or that it is one of the world’s largest slum landlords with, according to the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, “180,000 inadequate family housing units.
A new report by investment bank Goldman Sachs found that companies that are considered leaders in environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies are also leading the pack in stock performance—by an average of 25%. In an analysis of more than 120 ESG leaders from five different industries—energy, metals and mining, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and European media—Goldman found that companies in four of the sectors for which it had published reports (energy, mining and steel, food and beverages, and media) outperformed the MSCI world Index by an average of 25% since August 2005.
This is a bitingly wry editorial by Garrison Keillor, (“A Prairie Home Companion”) on the state of Homeland Security.
Create your future from your future not your past. Werner Erhard
A special thanks to: Allan Balliett, Jim Black, Ellen Crockett, Ken Dabkowski, , Neil Freer, Ursula Freer, Franceen King, KurzweilAI, Sebastian McCallister, Chris Lotspeich, Sher Patterson-Black, Diane C. Petersen, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell and Steve Ujvarosy, our contributors to this issue. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.