Volume 8, Number 6
April 21, 2005
Edited by John L. Petersen
In This Issue:
At The Arlington Institute, we believe that to understand the future, you need to have an open mind and cast a very wide net. To that end, FUTUREdition explores a cross-disciplinary palette of issues, from the frontiers of science and technology to major developments in mass media, geopolitics, the environment, and social perspectives.
Asked why it is that Integral Theories, such as those by Ken Wilber and the Spiral Dynamics system, do not seem to talk at P2P at all, Michael Bauwens has attempted here to define P2P as precisely as possible, to explain its emergence, and to place it in a number of evolutionary lines of development, as far as possible. He envisions the P2P relationship as the most likely next stage of civilization (i.e. either that or a return to barbarism).
Chris Stewart, of the Integral Foresight Institute, had said of the essay, “What Michael Bauwens has achieved in a very short space fulfills the same function as the Communist Manifesto once did: a call for a worldwide movement for social and political change, firmly rooted in the objective and subjective changes of contemporary society, and articulated as a practical and insightful model of human value and power relations that is ahead of its time. If we listen more carefully to Bauwens than we ever did Marx, however, it just might lead to a smooth evolution for humanity rather than revolution, or at worst, destruction. Bauwens has traced out real contours of hope for Western civilization. His presentation of a P2P perspective includes a clear theory of human power and value relations, a practical appreciation of its relationship to the current orthodoxy, and an inspiring vision for viable, sustainable, and desirable futures.”
Continued – http://188.8.131.52/~wilber/bauwens2.html
- “Fugitive” asteroid 2004 MN4 will miss the earth in 2029 – but only by 15,000 to 25,000 miles
- Some organisms, particularly plants, may contain a “backup copy” of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisms of heredity
- Eleven of the last twelve emerging infectious diseases in the world, that have had human health consequences, have probably arisen from animal sources
- Florida’s orange peel waste may be the next source of methanol for use in fuel cells at a model interstate rest stop
- More instances are cropping up of pharmacists, as a matter of conscience, refusing to fill certain prescriptions
A Trail of DNA and Data
MIT Designs Laptop for the World’s Poor
Hunting by Remote Control Draws Fire from All Quarters
A Trail of DNA and Data – (Washington Post – April 3, 2005)
If you’re worried about privacy and identity theft, imagine this. The scene: Somewhere in Washington, DC. The date: April 3, 2020. You sit steaming while the officer hops off his electric cycle and walks up to the car window. “You realize that you ran that red light again, don’t you, Mr. Witherspoon?” It’s no surprise that he knows your name; the intersection camera scanned your license plate and your guilty face, and matched both in the DMV database. The cop had the full scoop before you rolled to a stop – but that’s not half of it.
MIT Designs Laptop for the World’s Poor – (Financial Review – April 5, 2005)
Colleagues at MIT are hard at work on a project they hope will brighten the lives and prospects of hundreds of millions of developing-world children. It’s a grand idea and a daunting challenge: to create rugged, internet- and multimedia-capable laptop computers at a cost of $100 each. The laptops would be mass-produced in orders of no fewer than 1million units and would be bought by governments, which would distribute them. Yet even if all the technical hurdles were surmounted, some question whether a $100 laptop would bridge the global digital divide because internet access and even electricity would still be significant problems.
Hunting by Remote Control Draws Fire from All Quarters – (Christian Science Monitor – April 5, 2005)
It’s not a video game. It’s a new kind of hunting experience in which people anywhere in the world can sit at home and target real game by controlling a gun in a remote location. To supporters, it’s a way to allow the disabled, among others, to enjoy the thrill of hunting. But critics see it as a form of video slaughter. Indeed, the concept of live-action hunting – done over the Internet – is raising the hackles of everyone from animal-rights activists to hunting groups to gun advocates.
Black Holes Do Not Exist
First Image of Exoplanet Orbiting Sun-like Star
Science’s Doomsday Team vs. the Asteroids
Different Paths Lead to Similar Cognitive Abilities
A New Kind of Alchemy
Picking Apart the ‘Big Bang’ Brings a Big Mystery
Scientist Discovers New Layer Of The Earth
Black Holes Do Not Exist – (Nature – March 31, 2005)
According to George Chapline, a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, black holes, these awesome breaches in space-time, do not and indeed cannot exist. Einstein didn’t believe in black holes, Chapline argues. “Unfortunately”, he adds, “he couldn’t articulate why.” At the root of the problem is quantum mechanics. Chapline suggests that a star doesn’t simply collapse to form a black hole. Instead, the space-time inside it becomes filled with dark energy and this has some intriguing gravitational effects.
First Image of Exoplanet Orbiting Sun-like Star – (New Scientist – April 4, 2005)
Nearly 150 planets have been found beyond the solar system but all except one of these have been discovered indirectly, either by observing the dimming of a star as the planet passes in front of it or by the star’s wobble caused by the gravitational tug of an orbiting planet. Imaging a planet directly is extremely hard because the glare of the star is many times brighter than light reflected by the planet. However, in the case of the star GQ Lupi, the planet is far from the star and is also young and warm, meaning it shows up quite brightly in infrared. Ralph Neuhauser, at the Astrophysical Institute in Jena, Germany, and colleagues confirmed that the star’s companion really was a planet – and not just a faint star in the background – using two methods.
Science’s Doomsday Team vs. the Asteroids – (Washington Post – April 9, 2005)
Astronomers have recently refined their calculations as the probability of the 1,000-foot-wide stone missile, a fugitive asteroid wandering through space, hitting Earth rose from one chance in 170 to one in 38. They had never measured anything as potentially dangerous to Earth. Impact, they calculated, would come on Friday the 13th in April 2029. But additional observations showed that the asteroid would miss, but only by 15,000 to 25,000 miles – about one-tenth the distance to the moon. Asteroid 2004 MN4 was no false alarm. Instead, it has provided the world with the best evidence yet that a catastrophic encounter with a rogue visitor from space is not only possible but probably inevitable.
Different Paths Lead to Similar Cognitive Abilities – (EurekAlert – April 5, 2005)
Despite the divergent evolutionary paths of dolphins and primates — and their vastly different brains — both have developed similar high-level cognitive abilities, says Emory University neuroscientist and behavioral biologist Lori Marino. Modern humans have brains that are seven times bigger than would be expected for our body size, giving us an encephalization level of seven, some modern dolphins and whales have an encephalization level close to five — not a huge difference, says Marino.
A New Kind of Alchemy – (New Scientist – April 16, 2005)
Mendeleev’s classic layout of the periodic table of elements is starting to prove inadequate at describing the unexpected ways in which chemical elements behave when divvied up into small chunks. And now some chemists think it may be time to build a whole new table, this time from something much stranger than atoms: superatoms. His neat picture is being disrupted by superatoms – clusters of atoms of a particular chemical element that can take on the properties of entirely different elements. The chemical behaviour can be altered, sometimes drastically, by the addition of just one extra atom.
Picking Apart the ‘Big Bang’ Brings a Big Mystery – (USA Today – April 20, 2005)
An atom-smashing fireball experiment has physicists puzzling over existing theories about the moments after the “Big Bang” that scientists say created the universe. The goal was to create a charged gas that was more than 1 trillion degrees, up to 150,000 times hotter than the sun’s core. This was the climate scientists believe followed the Big Bang. Instead, the collisions created pinprick-size fireballs with matter that behaved like a high-temperature liquid, rather than a gas, for its infinitesimally brief existence.
Scientist Discovers New Layer Of The Earth – (Science Daily – April 14, 2005)
Dr Christine Thomas, from the University of Liverpool, has found a previously undetected seismic layer near the Earth’s core-mantle boundary. Her discovery will allow geophysicists to measure variations in the Earth’s internal temperature near the boundary between the rocky mantle and fluid core, about 2,900 km below the Earth’s surface.
Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene
Maggots…coming to a Hospital Near You
Electronic Tags for Eggs, Sperm and Embryos
Biolaser Lights Up Stem Cells
Gene-editing Technique Cuts Out Diseased DNA
Gene Project Would Seek Keys to Cancer
First Clone of Champion Racehorse Revealed
Genome Blasts Open Rice Research
Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene – (New York Times – March 23, 2005)
Geneticists at Purdue University say they have found plants that possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents, as if some handy backup copy with the right version had been made in the grandparents’ generation or earlier. The finding implies that some organisms may contain a cryptic backup copy of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisms of heredity. If confirmed, it would represent an unprecedented exception to the laws of inheritance discovered by Gregor Mendel in the 19th century. Equally surprising, the cryptic genome appears not to be made of DNA.
Maggots…coming to a Hospital Near You – (Reuters – March 18, 2005)
It may sound gruesome, but it turns out that maggots are remarkably efficient at cleaning up infected wounds by eating dead tissue and killing off bacteria that could block the healing process. Now a new generation of physicians, keen to cut back on antibiotic use, is waking up to the creatures’ charms. Some believe maggots are one of the most effective ways of treating wounds infected by the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Electronic Tags for Eggs, Sperm and Embryos – (New Scientist – March 30, 2005)
In 2002, Mr. and Mrs. A, saw their newborn twins for the first time, conceived after a long and difficult course of IVF treatment. At last it all seemed worthwhile. Except the babies were of mixed race, while both parents were white. The IVF clinic had blundered, and used the wrong sperm to fertilize Mrs. A’s eggs. Now, the UK’s regulatory body, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is considering labeling all embryos, eggs and sperm with barcodes or electronic ID tags. Digital cameras built into the IVF clinic’s benches read the barcodes off the bottom of labeled dishes containing eggs. A computer then reads the codes, and sounds an alarm if they do not match with the patient.
Biolaser Lights Up Stem Cells – (Wired News, March 31, 2005)
Scientists have developed a laser that could illuminate stem cells in greater detail than ever, revealing the important steps they take to become neuron, heart or other types of cells. The biocavity laser can show scientists the inner workings of a single cell.
Gene-editing Technique Cuts Out Diseased DNA – (New Scientist – April 4, 2005)
A gene-editing process that corrects mutations without weaving foreign genetic material into the chromosome has been demonstrated in diseased human cells for the first time. It could provide a less risky and more efficient alternative to gene therapy, which has resulted in leukaemia in some patients. By using different combinations of amino acids, the DNA bases can be designed to latch on to DNA at exactly the place where the mutated gene lies and cut it. This triggers the body’s natural repair process which corrects the gene right at that point.
Gene Project Would Seek Keys to Cancer – (Boston Globe _ March 28, 2005)
The proposed Human Cancer Genome Project would be greater in scale than the Human Genome Project, which has already mapped the blueprint of the human genetic structure. Its goal would be to determine the DNA sequence of thousands of tumor samples. Researchers would look for mutations that give rise to cancer or sustain it. The project’s proponents say a data bank of mutations would be freely available to researchers. The project is projected to cost about $1.35 billion over nine years; funding sources are currently uncertain. The government would probably start with smaller pilot projects, officials said.
First Clone of Champion Racehorse Revealed – (New Scientist – April 14, 2005)
The first ever clone of a champion racehorse was unveiled at a press conference in Italy. The foal was cloned from a skin cell of Pieraz, a multiple world champion in equine endurance races of up to 50 kilometres. Unlike conventional horseracing, which bans the use of non-natural methods of breeding, including cloning, endurance racing is among the half dozen or so equine sports which would allow cloned competitors. “Prometea, the first and only other cloned horse, was just a scientific experiment and, scientifically, there’s not much new about the new clone,” says Cesare Galli, who produced both horses at the University of Bologna in Cremona, Italy. “But from an industry viewpoint, the new horse is the real thing.”
Genome Blasts Open Rice Research – (Nature – April 20, 2005)
Researchers have sequenced the genome of the world’s most devastating rice fungus, opening the door to the development of crops that can resist infection. The fungus, called Magnaporthe grisea, is responsible for rice blast, a disease that destroys enough rice to feed 60 million people each year. Using standard laboratory techniques for genome sequencing, the team determined that the rice-blast fungus has more than 11,000 genes. The work marks the completion of the first draft sequence of a plant pathogen.
Pandemic-causing ‘Asian Flu’ Accidentally Released
Angola’s Virus Numbers Rising
Attacks on Medics in Virus Battle
Their Bugs Are Worse Than Their Bite
Delta Passenger Data Will Help Curb Diseases
Nanobacteria in Clouds Could Spread Disease
All Eyes on $7B Mad Cow Suit
Pandemic-causing ‘Asian Flu’ Accidentally Released – (New Scientist – April 13, 2005)
The virus that caused the 1957 “Asian flu” pandemic has been accidentally released by a lab in the US, and sent all over the world in test kits which scientists are now scrambling to destroy. There are fears the virus could escape the labs, as the mistake was discovered after the virus escaped from a kit at a high-containment lab in Canada. Such an escape could spread worldwide, as demonstrated in Russia in the 1970s.
Angola’s Virus Numbers Rising – (CNN – April 12, 2005)
The number of cases of Marburg hemorrhagic fever has continued to rise in northwestern Angola, but efforts to educate residents about the disease are appearing to be having an effect, the World Health Organization said. Two cases have occurred in the capital city of Luanda, which has an international airport, raising the specter that the disease could spread. But the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is unlikely the disease would spread widely in the United States if it were to reach the country.
Attacks on Medics in Virus Battle – (Reuters – April 10, 2005)
World Health Organization teams fighting an outbreak of Marburg virus in Angola were forced to temporarily suspend work in one area after scared residents stoned their vehicles. Work has been resumed. “This kind of reaction from local people is not uncommon in a hemorrhagic fever outbreak,” a WHO representative said. “They (locals) sometimes believe that it is the medicine people who have brought the illness to their communities.” In addition to residents, 14 health workers have died of the disease.
Their Bugs Are Worse Than Their Bite – (Washington Post – April 3, 2005)
Eleven of the last twelve emerging infectious diseases in the world, that have had human health consequences, have probably arisen from animal sources. What is worrying is both that these transmissions appear to be on the increase and that many diseases long believed to be noninfectious (such as multiple sclerosis) may in fact be attributable to microbes contracted from animals. Currently, the CDC tacks human-to-human disease transmission, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, under the Department of Agriculture, tracks animal-to-animal disease transmission, but no single agency tracks animal-to-human transmission. Responsibility for tracking West Nile virus, for example, is divided among eight federal agencies.
Delta Passenger Data Will Help Curb Diseases – (Associated Press – April 7, 2005)
Although privacy experts worry about the government gathering personal information on airline travelers, Delta Airlines is handing over electronic lists of passengers from some flights to help stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases. The lists will allow health officials to notify more quickly those travelers who might have been exposed to illnesses such as dengue fever, flu, plague, SARS and biological agents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a congressional panel.
Nanobacteria in Clouds Could Spread Disease – (EurekAlert – April 16, 2005)
Nanobacteria are now accepted as being widely prevalent in the terrestrial environment and evidence is compelling for the existence of these nano-organisms, even in the stratosphere. In humans, nanobacteria have now been identified on four continents. Researchers further suggest that nanobacteria’s involvement in several serious diseases such as the formation kidney stones, heart disease, and HIV is also slowly being recognized by the scientific community. The scientists argue that their occurrence in clouds could play a crucial role in the global dispersal of infective agents, and might also play a prominent role in the nucleation of cloud drops.
All Eyes on $7B Mad Cow Suit – (Edmonton Sun – April 12, 2005)
Four lawsuits against the Canadian government, potentially worth $7 billion, are getting long looks from some Alberta cattle producers. The co-ordinated class-action suits, launched in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, seek at least $7 billion, the industry’s estimated losses to date from mad cow disease, and another $100 million in punitive damages. The statements of claim assert that the federal government introduced a regulation in 1990 that specifically allowed feeding cattle parts to other cattle, the method through which bovine spongiform encephalopathy is transmitted. That was a full two years after Britain had banned the practice and about three years after Canada barred cattle imports from the United Kingdom and Ireland that were not from farms certified as free of the disease.
Sony Aims to Beam Sights, Sounds into Brain
Forty years of Moore’s Law
Sony Aims to Beam Sights, Sounds into Brain – (Reuters – April 7, 2005)
If you think video games are engrossing now, just wait: PlayStation maker Sony Corp. has been granted a patent for beaming sensory information directly into the brain. The technique could one day be used to create video games in which you can smell, taste, and touch, or to help people who are blind or deaf. The idea behind the patent is to activate the nerves using rapidly changing magnetic fields, but cannot be focused on small groups of brain cells, however no experiments have yet been conducted.
Forty years of Moore’s Law – (ZD Net – April 1, 2005)
In 1975, Moore amended his law to state that the number of transistors doubled about every 24 months. In the next decade, however, it is likely to begin slowing down to a three-year cycle. Some people, such as Stan Williams and Phil Kuekes of HP Labs, say the ability to shrink transistors may start to become problematic as early as 2010. That should prompt manufacturers to adopt alternatives, such as HP’s crossbar switches, to control electrical signals. Others, such as Intel’s director of technology strategy, Paolo Gargini, paint a more gradual picture. Around 2015, they say, manufacturers will start to move toward hybrid chips, combining elements of traditional transistors with nanotechnology. Or it may be much sooner: see the article below in the Nanotechnology section on “The Coming Chip Revolution”.
UN Ecosystems Assessment Report
Are You Eating Genetically Modified Food?
July Winds Predict Hurricane Damage
UN Ecosystems Assessment Report – (Voice of America – March 31, 2005)
More than 1,300 scientists and researchers from around the world have contributed to a four-year study for the United Nations. The study shows that humans are damaging the planet at an unprecedented rate and causing irreversible changes to the world’s ecosystems. It says a rising human population has polluted or over-exploited almost two thirds of Earth’s ecosystem during the past 50 years. The Report concludes that 15 of 24 ecosystems — including oceans, forests and grasslands — are being damaged by human population growth and global warming.
Are You Eating Genetically Modified Food? – (Associated Press – March 24, 2005)
Can animal genes be jammed into plants? Would tomatoes with catfish genes taste fishy? Have you ever eaten a genetically modified food? The answers are: yes, no and almost definitely. But according to a survey, most Americans couldn’t answer correctly even though they’ve been eating genetically modified foods — unlabeled — for nearly a decade.
July Winds Predict Hurricane Damage – (Nature – April 20, 2005)
A hurricane prediction model, based on wind patterns over the land and sea in July, can predict whether damages will be greater or less than average in the storm season from August to October. Previous models have been able to forecast the number of hurricanes forming at sea, based on variables such as ocean temperature, or fluctuations in air pressure over the North Atlantic Ocean. Now, two UK researchers have extended previous work to form robust predictions of the financial damage in a hurricane season. Using their model on past years, they could say whether a year would see damages that were above or below average in 74% of cases.
Nano-battery Recharges in a Minute
New Look for Molecular Transistors
The Smallest Electric Motor
The Coming Chip Revolution
Nano-battery Recharges in a Minute – (BetterHumans – April 1, 2005)
A nanoparticle battery that can be charged to 80% of its full capacity in a minute has been unveiled by Toshiba Corp. The lithium-ion battery uses nanoparticles to quickly absorb and store lithium ions. Existing lithium-ion rechargeable batteries can take one to four hours to reach 80% capacity and lose capacity after multiple charges, while Toshiba says its new battery loses just 1% of its capacity after 1,000 charge cycles.
New Look for Molecular Transistors – (Physics Web – March 31, 2005)
Theoretical physicists in the US have proposed a new way to make a single-molecule transistor. Researchers at the University of Arizona say the quantum interference effect transistor could be a realistic way to extend existing transistor technology down to the nanoscale (arXiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0503540). The device modulates the flow of current through a hydrocarbon ring by switching quantum interference “on” and “off”.
The Smallest Electric Motor – (Physics News Update – April 7, 2005)
The smallest electric motor in the world, devised by physicists at UC Berkeley, is based on the shuttling of atoms between two metal droplets – one large and one small – residing on the back of a carbon nanotube. An electric current transmitted through the nanotube causes atoms to move from the big to the small droplet. In effect, potential energy is being stored in the smaller droplet in the form of surface tension.
The Coming Chip Revolution – (Business Week – April 18, 2005)
At IBM, Infineon (IFX ), NEC (NIPNY ), and a clutch of startups, the leading candidate to replace silicon is the ethereal carbon nanotube. This tiny molecule – 100,000 lined up side by side are about as thick as a human hair – promises to make circuits faster, less power-hungry, and more densely packed than anything possible today. And they could vastly simplify the way chips are made. Even though such transistors are still in their infancy, carbon nanotubes can get around most of the problems that doom very small silicon devices. The current, third-generation prototype of a carbon nanotube transistor is still in the development lab but, as it exists now, it can carry up to 1,000 times the current of the copper wires used in today’s silicon chips, making it vastly more efficient. Stay tuned.
TERRORISM AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
War Games – (The Guardian – April 19, 2005)
The Institute for Creative Technologies is a thinktank that designs simulation programs and games for soldiers. It is funded in large part by the Pentagon and run by the University of Southern California. During the 1990s, the US army realized that in a new era of urban combat and asymmetrical warfare, leadership decisions in the field were originating farther and farther down the chain of command. Thus ICT’s latest offering to that end: an interactive learning program called “Army Excellence in Leadership”. A large percentage of American soldiers now carry personal DVD players and game consoles and “Army Excellence in Leadership” has already been shipped out to soldiers in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq. The response, reportedly, has been enthusiastic.
Bionic Suit Offers Wearers Super-Strength – (New Scientists – April 9, 2005)
A robot suit dubbed HAL, or hybrid assistive limb, has been developed that could help older people or those with disabilities to walk or lift heavy objects. Two control systems interact to help the wearer stand, walk and climb stairs. A “bio-cybernic” system uses bioelectric sensors attached to the skin on the legs to monitor signals transmitted from the brain to the muscles. The HAL 4 and HAL 5 prototypes don’t just help a person to walk. They have an upper part to assist the arms, and will help a person lift up to 40 kilograms more than they can manage unaided.
Citrus Peels an Alternative Energy Source
Deals to Develop Fuel Cell Vehicle
Citrus Peels an Alternative Energy Source – (CNN – April 1, 2005)
Florida, the nation’s largest citrus producer, each year creates about 8 million tons of orange peel waste that mostly goes to cattle feed. But researchers at a Fort Lauderdale-based company want to convert some of the peels into methanol, which can be used as an energy source. Ener1 Inc. is working on a $1.1 million project to convert the hydrogen-rich gas released from citrus peels for use in fuel cells at a model interstate rest stop.
Deals to Develop Fuel Cell Vehicle – (New York Times – March 31, 2005)
General Motors and DaimlerChrysler have signed agreements with the Department of Energy to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over the next five years. G.M. plans to build a fleet of 40 hydrogen-fuel vehicles. Under the program, G.M. will spend $44 million to distribute the vehicles in Washington, New York, California and Michigan. DaimlerChrysler, which is already testing 100 fuel cell vehicles in various places around the world, will place fuel cell vehicles with consumers, who will report on the performance of the vehicles.
Culture War Hits Local Pharmacy – (Christian Science Monitor – April 8, 2005)
From rural Texas to Chicago, more instances are cropping up of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives, the morning-after pill and the drugs for legal assisted suicide in Oregon. As a result, politicians around the country are stepping into the fray. Many pharmacists point to the “conscience-clause” exceptions that nearly every state has in place for doctors, allowing them to recuse themselves from performing abortions or other procedures they object to. Critics point out that filling a prescription is a very different job from writing one, and question whether pharmacists can deny a legal drug on moral grounds.
So often do the spirits of great events stride on before the events. And in today already walks tomorrow. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
A special thanks to Michael Bauwens, Humera Khan, Robert Knight, KurzweilAI, Sher Patterson-Black, Diane Petersen, John C. Petersen, the Schwartzreport, and Joel Snell, our contributors to this issue. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.