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Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Energy Producing Home

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I just recently heard about a home designed by architect Rolf Disch that produces five times the energy it consumes.  The rotating home, dubbed “Heliotrope”, is designed for optimal use of the sun’s energy and an in home water purification system recycles gray water and rain water collected in a rooftop basin.

The video bellow offers a tour of the home.  For those of you who don’t understand German, narrator is saying that the house is awesome.

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Written by Aaron Nee

August 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm

SYNTHETIC LIFE THAT CAN REPRODUCE

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This is old news, but of such great historic importance that it is worth posting, even if it is late.  I meant to post this some time back but have had difficulty finding the time to get caught up on blogging.  Never the less, it is up now and if you have not already listened to or read Venter talk about what he and his team have done, please take the time to check it out.

FROM TED.COM: Craig Venter and team make a historic announcement: they’ve created the first fully functioning, reproducing cell controlled by synthetic DNA. He explains how they did it and why the achievement marks the beginning of a new era for science.

Written by Aaron Nee

July 18, 2010 at 11:53 am

God of the Gaps

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I’d go to this guy’s church every Sunday AND Friday nights.

I like how he speaks like a minister….how he was “called” to do what he does, how he “did not have a choice”….using the same language as people who claim to be called by God to religious service.

I have read articles that there is a ‘God gene’ sort of thing where parts of the brain in certain individuals get more activity, response (and reward?) with religious thought that is akin to the activity that occurs in the brain of a drug user.  Some people are simply wired to think and feel about God more than others.  So I think that part of the brain  in De Grasse Tyson would be shooting off fireworks when he thinks about science and the cosmos.  I hope someone DOES do that experiment on him.  I feel similar….an excitement or almost religious fervor where you want to share this amazing information with others.  I guess I am hardwired like my mother after all!

I’m sure Neil has his critics, but I do love what he does for bringing science to the public at large.  He does a good job at breaking down barriers and prejudices…stating how even the most brilliant minds in the world went to “Creative Design” when they ran out of explanations…..so, don’t call your mother an idiot when she does it.   : D

Written by alisap

July 11, 2010 at 9:36 am

Why does the white man have so much cargo?

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Jared Diamond began his quest to discover the roots of inequality when an acquaintance, native to Papua New Guinea, asked why the white men had so much more “cargo” than the people of Papua New Guinea.  The theories that arose out of his study were published in the book “Guns, Germs and Steel”.

National Geographic did a documentary series based on Jared Diamonds book, which explores Diamond’s conclusions on why some civilizations have historically enjoyed tremendous prosperity and development while others languished.  The three part series is an intriguing study of Diamonds exploration – well worth watching.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Millers and Bakers Want in on Engineering New Wheat

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In the past, U.S. bakers and millers have been resistant to genetically modified wheat.  That resistance appears to be turning into support, but under the condition that the bakers and millers can be more involved in the seed designing process.

Genetically modified wheat is now seen by many as inevitable and the leading baking and milling companies want to make sure the biotech wheat is something they can sell their customers on.   “We’re not one hundred percent convinced that our customers will go for a GMO wheat unless it has enhanced characteristics,” says Hayden Wands, director of procurement at Sara Lee Corp.  It is thought that if, in addition to yield improvements, nutritional improvements are built into the seed, then the GMO wheat will be an easier sell to a resistant market place.

The miller’s and baker’s shift from opposition to conditional support should be a big win for Monsanto who has been aiming to restart its effort to develop and sell GMO wheat.  Monsanto in the past has seen their efforts to expand their influence into wheat hampered by strong public opposition to their herbicide-tolerant, “Roundup Ready” GMO wheat.

For more on millers and bakers yielding to the push for genetically altered wheat, see the report at Reuters.

For more on Monsanto, see the documentary previously posted at Knosha.

Also of interest is Michael Specter making his case for GMO’s at a TED.

Written by Aaron Nee

May 10, 2010 at 10:29 am

The Cloud and Your Mind

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If you have played online games like ESP, you may be working for free .  Clever entrepreneurs have been finding ways to get the public to do menial jobs for little or no pay via online games, and game like programs.   The new strategy for soliciting people around the world to gather and sift through information has tremendous potential and raises a myriad of ethical questions.  All the participant knows is that they are identifying images or arranging shapes.  They don’t necessarily know who the work is being done for and what will be done with the information.

In his presentation “Minds For Sale”  Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School and social theorist, illustrates the great potential of this new labor model, while also raising the extraordinary dangers and ethical concerns the model presents.  It seems that with every new bit of internet ingenuity comes a morass of ethical and philosophical concerns, that we cannot afford to ignore, but also emerging are surprising testaments to the good will and trustworthiness of the vast majority of internet users, which Zittrain is zealous to point out.   I strongly encourage taking time to listen to at least one of Zittrain’s talks.

I have embeded Zittrain’s short presentation at TED as a means of getting acquainted with him and the insights he has to offer.  If you find the talk of interest, then I highly recommend his longer presentation, outlined and embedded bellow.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Believing Is Seeing

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Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer and colleagues have reported research that demonstrates a notable improvement in what test subjects were able to see without the use of spectacles, contact lenses, or any physical changes to the subjects eyes.

The method of improving vision was no more than using suggestion to make the subject believe they were able to see more than they previously could.  Participants in the study who were predisposed to believing their vision could be enhanced showed particularly strong improvement in what they were able to see.

Another study conducted at MIT demonstrated similar results.

For more on the psychology of vision, see wired.com’s article.

Written by Aaron Nee

May 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm