31 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Genetic Language is Abstract and Flexible

The awesome power that genetic engineering will one day place in our hands was foreshadowed recently by some experimenters at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Walter Gehring and his students were studying the effects of the eyeless gene in fruit flies. The gene is called eyeless because its absence causes flies to grow without eyes. The gene actually causes eyes to grow. Gehring and the students inserted the gene into various tissues of embryonic flies, and the embryos grew into flies ...
Folksonomies: genes genetics dna heredity
Folksonomies: genes genetics dna heredity
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15 FEB 2015 by ideonexus

 AI View of AI, Scaling Wars

The artilects, as they have been conceived so far in this book, have been largely "nanoteched" creatures. But nanotechnology may be unnecessarily restrictive and far too large a scale to be suitable for advanced artilects. It may be possible that a "femtoteched" creature could be built. Such "femto-artilects" or "femtolects" as they will be called from now on, would be vastly superior to "nano-artilects" or "nanolects," thus setting the stage for a new "species dominance war" all over again. ...
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06 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Facts About the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

1.How faint are the farthest objects? The Hubble observations detected objects as faint as 30th magnitude. The faintest objects the human eye can see are at sixth magnitude. Ground-based telescopes also can detect 30th-magnitude objects. Those objects, however, are so dim they are lost in the glare of brighter, nearby galaxies. Searching for the faintest objects in the Ultra Deep Field is like trying to find a firefly on the Moon. Light from the farthest objects reached the Hubble teles...
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Interesting factoids about the epic photo that illustrate the scale of the Universe.

02 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 The Loss of the "Four Elements"

The disappearance of the traditional world of the ‘four elements’ was revolutionary. It was as radical in the world of chemistry as Copernicus’s proof that the earth was not the centre of the solar system; or (some said) as Robespierre’s claim that the people, not the king, embodied sovereignty. Moreover, it was counter-intuitive: it went against common sense and common appearances. Surely water and air were primary, simple elements? Not at all: chemical experiment and scientific inst...
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Was as big in chemistry as the Earth being the center of the Universe was to Astronomy.

29 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 Evolution Versus Engineering

What's the difference between evolution and engineering? Engineering is the designing of a whole out of parts suited to their individual purposes. Evolution is the process of tiny incremental changes, each making some small or large improvement in the ability of the thing to survive and reproduce. A good engineer avoids the kluge-jargon for the use of a part not particularly suited to its purpose. But evolution favors, even cherishes, the kluge. Suddenly finding a new purpose for a part witho...
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Evolution is all about kludges.

20 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 The Idiotic Design of the Eye

Hermann von Helmholtz, the great nineteenthcentury German scientist (you could call him a physicist, but his contributions to biology and psychology were greater), said, of the eye: 'If an optician wanted to sell me an instrument which had all these defects, I should think myself quite justified in blaming his carelessness in the strongest terms, and giving him back his instrument.' One reason why the eye seems better than Helmholtz, the physicist, judged it to be is that the brain does an am...
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Wired backwards with a blind spot.

03 JAN 2011 by ideonexus

 Number of Bits for a Set of Encyclopedias are Minuscule C...

I have estimaged how many letters there are in a the Enclyclopaedia, and I have assumed that each of my 24 million books is as big as an Encyclopaedia volume, and have calculated, then, how many bits of information there are (10^15). For each bit I allow 100 atoms. And it turns out that all of the information that man has carefully accumulated in all the books in the world can be written in this form in a cube of material one two-hundredths of an inch wide--which is the barest piece of dust t...
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Feynman estimates the number of atoms neccessary for storing a set of encyclopedias, and then compares that to the amount of data included in a DNA string.