Tag Archives: speculation

The bludgeoning of Gepetto: how “free” culture killed creative careers

The free content culture of the internet is democratising art and music, and is leading us to a digital playground where everyone can make some money out of their creations, right? Well, that’s not how it worked out in Sven Johnson’s Future Imperfect

Future Imperfect - Sven Johnson

Continue reading The bludgeoning of Gepetto: how “free” culture killed creative careers

BOOK REVIEW: The Coming Convergence by Stanley Schmidt

The Coming Convergence - Stanley SchmidtThe Coming Convergence by Stanley Schmidt, PhD

Prometheus Books, April 2008; 275pp; $27.95 RRP – ISBN13: 9781591026136

The Coming Convergence nestles at the better (i.e. not too sensational) end of the pop-science niche, and could easily be strap-lined as “a beginner’s guide to the singularity”. Schmidt’s degree in physics means he’s no stranger to the scientific method, but his twenty-five years as editor of Analog Science Fiction Magazine suggests he should have a pretty decent grasp of how to make science into a story that’s engaging to read. I don’t doubt he has; what I do doubt, with hindsight, is my suitability as a reviewer for this book. Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: The Coming Convergence by Stanley Schmidt

Ten-fold longevity expansion

Sunset on a beach A group of scientists have managed to extend the lifespan of baker’s yeast by ten times, using genetic tweaks and a special diet. They believe that they will be able transfer the same processes into small mammals like mice, and that ultimately this may be a viable pathway for longevity treatments in humans:

Longo’s group next plans to further investigate life span extension in mice and also is studying a human population in Ecuador with mutations analogous to those described in yeast.

“People with two copies of the mutations have very small stature and other defects,” he said. “We are now identifying the relatives with only one copy of the mutation, who are apparently normal. We hope that they will show a reduced incidence of diseases and an extended life span.”

Longo cautioned that, as in the Ecuador case, longevity mutations tend to come with severe growth deficits and other health problems. Finding drugs to extend the human life span without side effects will not be easy, he said.

An easier goal, Longo added, would be to use the knowledge gained about life span “in a fairly limited way, to reprogram disease prevention.”

It’s interesting to see that there inevitable consequences to longevity – everything comes at a price, even in biology. But what about the social consequences?

Sure, if I could even double my lifespan, think of how many more books I’d be able to read, or stories I’d be able to write. But I’d need to work for twice as many years to support myself … and if the majority of people were living twice as long, there’d be some rather serious logistical issues with basic resources.

But then again, maybe that would provide the impetus for us to think more efficiently, and/or escape the gravity well and colonise local space? [Image from Image*After]

One thing’s for certain – if my longevity was increased significantly, I’d have a lot more time for sitting around and speculating wildly on the consequences of things … 😉

[tags]biology, longevity, consequences, speculation[/tags]

Martian Water Saga, Part [x+1]: it’s back on again! Maybe.

mars_icy Long term readers of Futurismic will know well my frustration with the constant see-sawing of scientists over the "is Mars wet?" issue, and I’m going to spare relative newcomers the weight of my angst.

Instead, I’ll just point to a story that reports on analysis done at MIT which suggests the southern polar ice cap of Mars may actually be water and not ‘dry ice’ … and to another, dated just a few days ago, which says images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter seem to indicate that certain topographical features of the Red Planet may not have been carved by water as previously suspected … although the results "don’t confirm or deny" the theory. [Image credited to NASA/MOLA Science Team]

Look, can we not arrange for some sort of moratorium on this to-and-fro guesswork until such a time as we actually have some substantial scene-of-the-crime evidence to go on, as opposed to very clever people making educated guesses based on photographs taken from orbit?

[tags]space, Mars, water, speculation[/tags]