Spencer Thomas / Opir

singularitarian:

Yep, this happened. Doctors at Johns Hopkins have attached a new ear to a patient that was grown on her own forearm. It’s a medical first, and a heartwarming-if-a-little-yucky story.

ilovecharts:

Why Is Your State…
via calliecucumber
nevver:

Negotiating the Future
People — mostly academics — have been trying to introduce a gender-neutral singular pronoun into the English language for about 200 years, with very little success. And then a group of kids in Baltimore just make one up and start using it.

smarterplanet:


The New York Times looks at the rise of “basil and bok choy growing in Brooklyn, and tomatoes, leeks and cucumbers in Queens”:

“In terms of rooftop commercial agriculture, New York is definitely a leader at this moment,” said Joe Nasr, co-author of “Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture” and a researcher at the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University in Toronto. “I expect it will continue to expand, and much more rapidly, in the near future.”

Read the full article and find out more about our Request for Proposals for the development and operation of a rooftop farm at a 200,000-square-foot property on a site located in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx.

Photo credit: Angel Franco/The New York Times

thisistheverge:

3D printers and sugar used to create blood vessel networks
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and MIT have developed a new technique for creating blood vessel networks using a 3D printer and some sugar

thisistheverge:

3D printers and sugar used to create blood vessel networks

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and MIT have developed a new technique for creating blood vessel networks using a 3D printer and some sugar

To speak honestly about money, it is not only necessary to enlarge our perspectives. We must also start speaking out loud. Perversely, I’ve found that the more I make, the more I want to talk about what I make. My mounting tallies create a pressure that I release with inappropriately glib or self-deprecating remarks. But there’s no intrinsic value in not talking about it other than perhaps preserving an illusion of shy modesty, adhering to those aforementioned social mores, and keeping on the metaphorical sheep costume. The truth of my richness remains, and the richness of those who have made me rich endures and expands. Silence benefits only those on top.

Charlotte Shane.  The New Inquiry (via mollycrabapple)

An interesting post that deserves wider coverage. I’d like to some thoughts on her commentary about the misguided hatred of the wealthy and wealth in some quarters - and how it should change.

We should be doing everything necessary to provide equality of opportunity - real equality of opportunity, not the lip-serviced version of it we currently have that covers up a broken and far-from-meritocratic-except-in-certain-areas system - and the ability to get wealthy, along with providing a floor through which no one falls. We should want people to get wealthy, and for aggregate social welfare to increase, and need to provide institutions and policies that encourage and support this, while doing our utmost to prevent anyone from slipping into destitution. No one, I mean no one should hate the wealthy. They should instead abhor a broken system that prevents more people from getting wealthy, and allows so many to fall into poverty and never climb out. We should also have a system which allows those who, for whatever reason, cannot compete at a high level to simply opt out while not leaving them to fend for themselves. A guaranteed basic income, rather than our patchwork system of assistance, which comes with side of humiliation, would provide this, and help clear the playing field for those who can and do wish to compete at that level. 

A culture change is required for this to happen (we’ll need to collectively accept that people who do not work are not lazy, ne’er do wells or parasites, but that they are the result of the transition to post-work (and hopefully post-scarcity) societies), but it will have to happen. The cultural/socio-economic status quo is simply too broken, and simply can not work in a new world where less and less human labor is needed. A major adjustment to our way of thinking is required.

What Happened to Cyberpunk?

sciencefiction:

William Gibson: Cyberpunk today is a standard Pantone shade in pop culture. You know it when you see it.

Neal Stephenson: It evolved into birds. 

Douglas Rushkoff: For most people, it was surrendered to the cloud. For those who understand, it stayed on their hard drives.

From “It Evolved Into Birds: Ten Science-Fictional Thinkers On the Past and Future of Cyberpunk” on Motherboard. 

emergentfutures:

Paul Higgins: My first thought was “shark”
smarterplanet:

Spanish Government Deploys Robotic Fish to Monitor Maritime Pollution
Currently the port relies on divers to monitor water quality, which is a lengthy process costing €100,000 per year. The divers take water samples from hundreds of points in the port, then send them off for analysis, with the results taking weeks to return. By contrast, the SHOAL robots would continuously monitor the water, letting the port respond immediately to the causes of pollution, such as a leaking boat or industrial spillage, and work to mitigate its effects.
The SHOAL fish are one and a half metres long, comparable to the size and shape of a tuna, but their neon-yellow plastic shell means they are unlikely to be mistaken for the real thing. A range of onboard chemical sensors detect lead, copper and other pollutants, along with measuring water salinity.
They are driven by a dual-hinged tail capable of making tight turns that would be impossible with a propeller-driven robot. They are also less noisy, reducing the impact on marine life.
The robots are battery powered and capable of running for 8 hours between charges. At the moment the researchers have to recover them by boat, but their plan is that the fish will return to a charging station by themselves.
Working in a group, the fish can cover a 1 kilometre-square region of water, down to a depth of 30 metres. They communicate with each other and a nearby base-station using very low-frequency sound waves, which can penetrate the water more easily than radio waves. However, this means the fish have a low data transmission rate and can only send short, predefined messages. “It’s a good solution, but it requires thinking carefully about what data to transmit and how to use that data,” says Kristi Morgansen, a roboticist at the University of Washington, who was not involved in the research.
Robotic fish shoal sniffs out pollution in harbours - environment - 22 May 2012 - New Scientist
via joshbyard:

emergentfutures:

Paul Higgins: My first thought was “shark”

smarterplanet:

Spanish Government Deploys Robotic Fish to Monitor Maritime Pollution

Currently the port relies on divers to monitor water quality, which is a lengthy process costing €100,000 per year. The divers take water samples from hundreds of points in the port, then send them off for analysis, with the results taking weeks to return. By contrast, the SHOAL robots would continuously monitor the water, letting the port respond immediately to the causes of pollution, such as a leaking boat or industrial spillage, and work to mitigate its effects.

The SHOAL fish are one and a half metres long, comparable to the size and shape of a tuna, but their neon-yellow plastic shell means they are unlikely to be mistaken for the real thing. A range of onboard chemical sensors detect lead, copper and other pollutants, along with measuring water salinity.

They are driven by a dual-hinged tail capable of making tight turns that would be impossible with a propeller-driven robot. They are also less noisy, reducing the impact on marine life.

The robots are battery powered and capable of running for 8 hours between charges. At the moment the researchers have to recover them by boat, but their plan is that the fish will return to a charging station by themselves.

Working in a group, the fish can cover a 1 kilometre-square region of water, down to a depth of 30 metres. They communicate with each other and a nearby base-station using very low-frequency sound waves, which can penetrate the water more easily than radio waves. However, this means the fish have a low data transmission rate and can only send short, predefined messages. “It’s a good solution, but it requires thinking carefully about what data to transmit and how to use that data,” says Kristi Morgansen, a roboticist at the University of Washington, who was not involved in the research.

Robotic fish shoal sniffs out pollution in harbours - environment - 22 May 2012 - New Scientist

via joshbyard:

On science funding, or lack thereof

The first question we need to ask: where would the money come from?

1) Government/taxes: with the dog-eat-dog, every man for himself, taxes-are-theft-and “I don’t want them going to the ‘undeserving’” culture not going anywhere anytime soon, despite the continuing efforts or many, this one cannot be counted on. Changing this culture will likely take many decades of effort. DARPA remains the one bright spot here (even if obliquely) as blue-sky, big money projects can still happen without the ROI-demanders sitting on its shoulder all the time. We should always remember that the balanced-books, transparent-everything, everyone-is-accountable culture is a double edged sword; it protects investors and the public, but it also means that big chances can not or will not be taken due to the possibility of people being taken off the project/fired/ridiculed for being “financially irresponsible.” There’s no easy answer to this one either, as there’s a fundamental conflict of values, perceived needs, and perfectly valid worries about corruption/fraud/waste.

2) Large, well-heeled companies. Right now, these probably offer our best hope for progress. The Googles and such of the world have massive cash holdings; an ostensible desire to make technological/scientific progress; a desire by its leaders to truly make their mark; and a company culture that allows significant freedom. The self-driving car and Google Glasses are two recent prominent examples. Of course, not every company has the right combination of money and culture to make this happen, but this is all we’ve really have at the moment.

3) The people directly. Unfortunately, too likely difficult to make a dent in the needs of scientific researchers and their projects. With more people every more strapped for cash (if they even still have a job), along with a bewildering array of possible choices of types of research and/or institutions to support, and an often fad-driven set of behaviors, I don’t think there’s much hope here either. Even if you could get people focused with a Kickstarter-for-science (e.g., petridish.org) the amounts needed for truly large projects that help humanity (truly long-term life extension, difficult disease research, the works) just aren’t likely to be raised. I would love be proven wrong here, but as interesting as some of the projects that get funded are (and I hope they succeed – I’m happy to hear about the evolution of cooperation in vampire bats) it’s not enough to tackle the problems and questions.

In the US and many other parts of the world have become steeped in a short-termist, fastest ROI culture which is going to be difficult to dislodge. We should also be thinking about /why/ this is. Why are we short-termist? Part of it is the zeitgeist – the world is changing more quickly than some/many are able to process; growing fears about the future, justified or not; the fear that it may just all end tomorrow – so why bother making long term investments in anything? You could even think of it as a kind of renewed undercurrent of subconscious eschatological feeling running through societies. Until we can address these issues, I think that the underfunding of science will continue. We should hope that Google and its ilk can make real progress in the interim, while trying to change the culture that leads to this (I hold out no hope whatsoever for improvements through legislation any time in the near-to-medium term.)

My response to a post lamenting the state of science funding:

http://petridishtalk.com/2012/05/26/what-are-you-waiting-for-a-certain-shade-of-green-core-science-tech-development/