robertogreco + genetics   119

The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2018)
"It’s been quite a year for education news, not that you’d know that by listening to much of the ed-tech industry (press). Subsidized by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, some publications have repeatedly run overtly and covertly sponsored articles that hawk the future of learning as “personalized,” as focused on “the whole child.” Some of these attempt to stretch a contemporary high-tech vision of social emotional surveillance so it can map onto a strange vision of progressive education, overlooking no doubt how the history of progressive education has so often been intertwined with race science and eugenics.

Meanwhile this year, immigrant, refugee children at the United States border were separated from their parents and kept in cages, deprived of legal counsel, deprived of access to education, deprived in some cases of water.

“Whole child” and cages – it’s hardly the only jarring juxtaposition I could point to.

2018 was another year of #MeToo, when revelations about sexual assault and sexual harassment shook almost every section of society – the media and the tech industries, unsurprisingly, but the education sector as well – higher ed, K–12, and non-profits alike, as well school sports all saw major and devastating reports about cultures and patterns of sexual violence. These behaviors were, once again, part of the hearings and debates about a Supreme Court Justice nominee – a sickening deja vu not only for those of us that remember Anita Hill ’s testimony decades ago but for those of us who have experienced something similar at the hands of powerful people. And on and on and on.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) kept up with its rosy repetition that social equality is surely its priority, a product feature even – that VR, for example, a technology it has for so long promised is “on the horizon,” is poised to help everyone, particularly teachers and students, become more empathetic. Meanwhile, the founder of Oculus Rift is now selling surveillance technology for a virtual border wall between the US and Mexico.

2018 was a year in which public school teachers all over the US rose up in protest over pay, working conditions, and funding, striking in red states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma despite an anti-union ruling by the Supreme Court.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) was wowed by teacher influencers and teacher PD on Instagram, touting the promise for more income via a side-hustle like tutoring rather by structural or institutional agitation. Don’t worry, teachers. Robots won’t replace you, the press repeatedly said. Unsaid: robots will just de-professionalize, outsource, or privatize the work. Or, as the AI makers like to say, robots will make us all work harder (and no doubt, with no unions, cheaper).

2018 was a year of ongoing and increased hate speech and bullying – racism and anti-Semitism – on campuses and online.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) still maintained that blockchain would surely revolutionize the transcript and help insure that no one lies about who they are or what they know. Blockchain would enhance “smart spending” and teach financial literacy, the ed-tech industry (press) insisted, never once mentioning the deep entanglements between anti-Semitism and the alt-right and blockchain (specifically Bitcoin) backers.

2018 was a year in which hate and misinformation, magnified and spread by technology giants, continued to plague the world. Their algorithmic recommendation engines peddled conspiracy theories (to kids, to teens, to adults). “YouTube, the Great Radicalizer” as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci put it in a NYT op-ed.

And yet the education/technology industry (press) still talked about YouTube as the future of education, cheerfully highlighting (that is, spreading) its viral bullshit. Folks still retyped the press releases Google issued and retyped the press releases Facebook issued, lauding these companies’ (and their founders’) efforts to reshape the curriculum and reshape the classroom.

This is the ninth year that I’ve reviewed the stories we’re being told about education technology. Typically, this has been a ten (or more) part series. But I just can’t do it any more. Some people think it’s hilarious that I’m ed-tech’s Cassandra, but it’s not funny at all. It’s depressing, and it’s painful. And no one fucking listens.

If I look back at what I’ve written in previous years, I feel like I’ve already covered everything I could say about 2018. Hell, I’ve already written about the whole notion of the “zombie idea” in ed-tech – that bad ideas never seem to go away, that just get rebranded and repackaged. I’ve written about misinformation and ed-tech (and ed-tech as misinformation). I’ve written about the innovation gospel that makes people pitch dangerously bad ideas like “Uber for education” or “Alexa for babysitting.” I’ve written about the tech industry’s attempts to reshape the school system as its personal job training provider. I’ve written about the promise to “rethink the transcript” and to “revolutionize credentialing.” I’ve written about outsourcing and online education. I’ve written about coding bootcamps as the “new” for-profit higher ed, with all the exploitation that entails. I’ve written about the dangers of data collection and data analysis, about the loss of privacy and the lack of security.

And yet here we are, with Mark Zuckerberg – education philanthropist and investor – blinking before Congress, promising that AI will fix everything, while the biased algorithms keep churning out bias, while the education/technology industry (press) continues to be so blinded by “disruption” it doesn’t notice (or care) what’s happened to desegregation, and with so many data breaches and privacy gaffes that they barely make headlines anymore.

Folks. I’m done.

I’m also writing a book, and frankly that’s where my time and energy is going.

There is some delicious irony, I suppose, in the fact that there isn’t much that’s interesting or “innovative” to talk about in ed-tech, particularly since industry folks want to sell us on the story that tech is moving faster than it’s ever moved before, so fast in fact that the ol’ factory model school system simply cannot keep up.

I’ve always considered these year-in-review articles to be mini-histories of sorts – history of the very, very recent past. Now, instead, I plan to spend my time taking a longer, deeper look at the history of education technology, with particular attention for the next few months, as the title of my book suggests, to teaching machines – to the promises that machines will augment, automate, standardize, and individualize instruction. My focus is on the teaching machines of the mid-twentieth century, but clearly there are echoes – echoes of behaviorism and personalization, namely – still today.

In his 1954 book La Technique (published in English a decade later as The Technological Society), the sociologist Jacques Ellul observes how education had become oriented towards creating technicians, less interested in intellectual development than in personality development – a new “psychopedagogy” that he links to Maria Montessori. “The human brain must be made to conform to the much more advanced brain of the machine,” Ellul writes. “And education will no longer be an unpredictable and exciting adventure in human enlightenment , but an exercise in conformity and apprenticeship to whatever gadgetry is useful in a technical world.” I believe today we call this "social emotional learning" and once again (and so insistently by the ed-tech press and its billionaire backers), Montessori’s name is invoked as the key to preparing students for their place in the technological society.

Despite scant evidence in support of the psychopedagogies of mindsets, mindfulness, wellness, and grit, the ed-tech industry (press) markets these as solutions to racial and gender inequality (among other things), as the psychotechnologies of personalization are now increasingly intertwined not just with surveillance and with behavioral data analytics, but with genomics as well. “Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education,” a NYT op-ed piece argued in July, perhaps forgetting that education’s progressives (including Montessori) have been down this path before.

This is the only good grit:

[image of Gritty]

If I were writing a lengthier series on the year in ed-tech, I’d spend much more time talking about the promises made about personalization and social emotional learning. I’ll just note here that the most important “innovator” in this area this year (other than Gritty) was surely the e-cigarette maker Juul, which offered a mindfulness curriculum to schools – offered them the curriculum and $20,000, that is – to talk about vaping. “‘The message: Our thoughts are powerful and can set action in motion,’ the lesson plan states.”

The most important event in ed-tech this year might have occurred on February 14, when a gunman opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stone Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff and injuring 17 others. (I chose this particular school shooting because of the student activism it unleashed.)

Oh, I know, I know – school shootings and school security aren’t ed-tech, ed-tech evangelists have long tried to insist, an argument I’ve heard far too often. But this year – the worst year on record for school shootings (according to some calculations) – I think that argument started to shift a bit. Perhaps because there’s clearly a lot of money to be made in selling schools “security” products and services: shooting simulation software, facial recognition technology, metal detectors, cameras, social media surveillance software, panic buttons, clear backpacks, bulletproof backpacks, … [more]
audreywatters  education  technology  edtech  2018  surveillance  privacy  personalization  progressive  schools  quantification  gamification  wholechild  montessori  mariamontessori  eugenics  psychology  siliconvalley  history  venturecapital  highereducation  highered  guns  gunviolence  children  youth  teens  shootings  money  influence  policy  politics  society  economics  capitalism  mindfulness  juul  marketing  gritty  innovation  genetics  psychotechnologies  gender  race  racism  sexism  research  socialemotional  psychopedagogy  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  learning  howwelearn  teachingmachines  nonprofits  nonprofit  media  journalism  access  donaldtrump  bias  algorithms  facebook  amazon  disruption  data  bigdata  security  jacquesellul  sociology  activism  sel  socialemotionallearning 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Pink Chicken Project
"Pink Chicken Project suggests using a “Gene Drive” to change the colour of the entire species Gallus Gallus Domesticus to pink.

Being the world's most common bird, the bones of the 60 billion chickens that are killed every year leave a distinct trace in the rock strata (the earth's crust), a marker for the new geological age - the Anthropocene.

To re-occupy this identifier of our age, the project suggests genetically modifying a chicken with pink bones and feathers, using a gene from the insect cochineal to produce a pigment that will be fossilized when combined with the calcium of the bone.

Spreading this gene with the recently invented Gene Drive technique, the species could be permanently altered, on a global scale, in just a few years.

Thereby modifying the future fossil record, colouring the geological trace of humankind, pink!

Pink, is a symbolic color, an opposition to the current global power dynamics, that enable and aggravate the anthropocentric violence forced upon the non-human world.

The pink chicken DNA also carries an encoded message, that calls for an ecological discourse that must include issues of social justice, in order to achieve the radical restructuring of society needed to break the death grip of the sixth extinction.

Lying somewhere between utopia and dystopia, the project attempts to redirect focus to the underlying ethical and political issues;

What future do we really want, and why?

And can we stay humble in facing what is unknowable?"
chicken  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  2018  dna  genetics  color  anthropocene 
december 2018 by robertogreco
You Can’t Ruin Your Kids | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"Why parenting matters less than we think"



"What Parents Can Do
Harris moves on to tackle specific issues concerning teenagers, gender differences, and dysfunctional families. She holds fast to her thesis, marshaling massive evidence for the influence of peer groups and genetics over parents and home environment.

It’s not that parents and home life don’t matter, she constantly reminds us — they obviously do matter in the short-run, because kids do react to their parents’ actions and expectations — but rather that life at home is just a temporary stop in the child’s journey, and the parents are temporary influencers. The direct effects of parenting that you believe you observe in your kids are either (1) simply your genes expressing themselves or (2) are temporary behavioral adjustments made by children, soon to be cast off when they enter the peer world “as easily as the dorky sweater their mother made them wear.”

So what can parents do, beyond carefully choosing a peer group (as discussed above)? Harris ends her book with an entire chapter dedicated to this question.

Some things that parents do — like teaching language to their young children — don’t hurt. That means that the child “does not have to learn it all over again in order to converse with her peers — assuming, of course, that her peers speak English.” Harris continues:

The same is true for other behaviors, skills, and knowledge. Children bring to the peer group much of what they learned at home, and if it agrees with what the other kids learned at home they are likely to retain it. Children also learn things at home that they do not bring to the peer group, and these may be retained even if they are different from what their peers learned. Some things just don’t come up in the context of the peer group. This is true nowadays of religion. Unless they attend a religious school, practicing a religion is something children don’t do with their peers: they do it with their parents. That is why parents still have some power to give their kids their religion. Parents have some power to impart any aspect of their culture that involves things done in the home; cooking is a good example. Anything learned at home and kept at home — not scrutinized by the peer group — may be passed on from parents to their kids.

Religion, cooking, political beliefs, musical talents, and career plans: Harris concedes that parents do influence their kids in these areas. But only because these are essentially interests and hobbies, not character traits. If you had a personal friend living with you for 18 years, their favorite meals, political beliefs, and career plans might rub off on you, too.

If your kid is getting bullied or falling in with the wrong crowd, you can move. You can switch schools. You can homeschool. These actions matter, because they affect the peer group.

You can help your kid from being typecast in negative ways by their peer group. You can help them look as normal and attractive as possible:

“Normal” means dressing the child in the same kind of clothing the other kids are wearing. “Attractive” means things like dermatologists for the kid with bad skin and orthodontists for the one whose teeth came in crooked. And, if you can afford it or your health insurance will cover it, plastic surgery for any serious sort of facial anomaly. Children don’t want to be different, and for good reason: oddness is not considered a virtue in the peer group. Even giving a kid a weird or silly name can put him at a disadvantage.

In Self-Directed Education circles where “being yourself” is holy mantra, such “conformist” concessions can be looked down upon. But Harris encourages us to remember what it is actually like to be a child: how powerfully we desire to fit in with our peers. Be kind to your children, Harris suggests, and don’t give them outlandish names, clothing, or grooming. Give them what they need to feel secure, even when that thing feels highly conformist.

Harris offers just a few small pieces of common-sense advice. There’s not much in the way of traditional “do this, not that” parenting guidance. But her final and most significant message is yet to come.

Saving the Parent-Child Relationship
My favorite quote from The Nurture Assumption introduces Harris’ approach to thinking about parent-child relationships:

People sometimes ask me, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my child?” They never ask, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my husband?” or “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my wife?” And yet the situation is similar. I don’t expect that the way I act toward my husband today is going to determine what kind of person he will be tomorrow. I do expect, however, that it will affect how happy he is to live with me and whether we will remain good friends.

While a spouse and a child are clearly not the same — a spouse has a similar level of lifetime experience to you, they are voluntarily chosen, and they (hopefully) don’t share your genes — Harris holds up marriage as a better relationship model than one we typically employ as parents.

You can learn things from the person you’re married to. Marriage can change your opinions and influence your choice of a career or a religion. But it doesn’t change your personality, except in temporary, context-dependent ways.

Yes, the parent-child relationship is important. But it’s not terribly different from a relationship with a spouse, sibling, or dear friend. In those relationships we don’t assume that we can (or should) control that person or how they “turn out.” Yet with children, we do.

Implicit in this analysis is a powerful message: Children are their own people, leading their own lives, worthy of basic respect. They are not dolls, chattel, or people through whom we might live our unfulfilled dreams. Just because parents are older, have more experience, and share genes with our children doesn’t give us long-term power or real control over them. That is the attitude that leads to the bullying, condescension, and micromanaging that scars too many parent-child relationships.

But while she calls for relinquishing a sense of control, Harris isn’t onboard with highly permissive parenting (what some call “unparenting”) either:
Parents are meant to be dominant over their children. They are meant to be in charge. But nowadays they are so hesitant about exerting their authority — a hesitancy imposed upon them by the advice-givers — that it is difficult for them to run the home in an effective manner. . . . The experiences of previous generations show that it is possible to rear well-adjusted children without making them feel that they are the center of the universe or that a time-out is the worst thing that could happen to them if they disobey. Parents know better than their children and should not feel diffident about telling them what to do. Parents, too, have a right to a happy and peaceful home life. In traditional societies, parents are not pals. They are not playmates. The idea that parents should have to entertain their children is bizarre to people in these societies. They would fall down laughing if you tried to tell them about “quality time.”


The message again is: Think of the parent-child relationship more like that of a healthy friendship or marriage. Hold them to a normal standards. Be frank and direct with them. Don’t worry about constantly entertaining them or monitoring their emotions. And whenever possible, Harris, says enjoy yourself! “Parents are meant to enjoy parenting. If you are not enjoying it, maybe you’re working too hard.”

In the end, Harris wants to free us from the guilt, anxiety, and fear that plagues so much of modern parenting, largely bred from the “advice-givers” who have convinced us that parenting is a science and you’re responsible for its outcomes:
You’ve followed their advice and where has it got you? They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t love all your children equally, though it’s not your fault if nature made some kids more lovable than others. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give them enough quality time, though your kids seem to prefer to spend their quality time with their friends. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give your kids two parents, one of each sex, though there is no unambiguous evidence that it matters in the long run. They’ve made you feel guilty if you hit your child, though big hominids have been hitting little ones for millions of years. Worst of all, they’ve made you feel guilty if anything goes wrong with your child. It’s easy to blame parents for everything: they’re sitting ducks. Fair game ever since Freud lit his first cigar.


Take care of the basics. Give your kid a home and keep them healthy. Connect them to positive peer groups. Teach them what you can. Build a home life that works for everyone. Try to enjoy the person who your child is. Do your best to build a bond between child and parent that will last for a lifetime. This is what Judith Rich Harris says we can do.

But when it comes to influencing your child’s behavior, personality, attitudes, and knowledge in the long run: stop. Recognize how little impact you have, give up the illusion of control, and relax. We can neither perfect nor ruin our children, Harris says: “They are not yours to perfect or ruin: they belong to tomorrow.”"
blakeboles  parenting  children  nature  nurture  environment  naturenurture  genetics  relationships  respect  peers  conformity  social  youth  adolescence  religion  belonging  authority  authoritarianism  marriage  society  schools  schooling  education  learning  internet  online  youtube  web  socialmedia  influence  bullying  condescension  micromanagement  judithrichharris  books  toread  canon  culture  class  youthculture 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Scientists Still Can't Decide How to Define a Tree - The Atlantic
"So far, there is no standout gene or set of genes that confers tree-ness, nor any particular genome feature. Complexity? Nope: Full-on, whole-genome duplication (an often-used proxy for complexity) is prevalent throughout the plant kingdom. Genome size? Nope: Both the largest and smallest plant genomes belong to herbaceous species (Paris japonica and Genlisea tuberosa, respectively—the former a showy little white-flowered herb, the latter a tiny, carnivorous thing that traps and eats protozoans).

A chat with Neale confirms that tree-ness is probably more about what genes are turned on than what genes are present. “From the perspective of the genome, they basically have all the same stuff as herbaceous plants,” he said. “Trees are big, they’re woody, they can get water from the ground to up high. But there does not seem to be some profound unique biology that distinguishes a tree from a herbaceous plant.”

Notwithstanding the difficulty in defining them, being a tree has undeniable advantages—it allows plants to exploit the upper reaches where they can soak up sunlight and disperse pollen and seeds with less interference than their ground-dwelling kin. So maybe it’s time to start thinking of tree as a verb, rather than a noun—tree-ing, or tree-ifying. It’s a strategy, a way of being, like swimming or flying, even though to our eyes it’s happening in very slow motion. Tree-ing with no finish in sight—until an ax, or a pest, or a bolt of Thanksgiving lightning strikes it down."
biology  botany  classification  trees  2018  verbs  rachelehrenberg  plants  science  genetics  multispecies  wood  longevity  andrewgroover  ronaldlanner  evolution  davidneale  genomes  complexity 
april 2018 by robertogreco
How birds' genes influence adaptation to climate change
"As Earth’s climate changes, species must adapt, shift their geographical ranges, or face decline and, in some cases, extinction. Using genetics, biologists involved in the Bird Genoscape Project are racing against time to find out the potential for adaptation and how best to protect vulnerable populations of birds.

The project’s most recent study, published in Science, focuses on the yellow warbler. Found across most of North America, the bird spends its winters in Central and South America, and flies as far north as Alaska and the Arctic Circle in the summer, filling wildlands and backyards with color and song along the way.

Using more than 200 blood, tissue and feather samples from across the breeding range, the researchers discovered genes that appear to be responding to climate, and found that bird populations that most need to adapt to climate change are experiencing declines.

Senior author Kristen Ruegg, a research scientist at UC Santa Cruz and adjunct assistant professor at UCLA, said previous studies focused on how long-term changes in temperature and precipitation cause bird species to shift their geographic ranges. Genetic mapping offers the opportunity to look at another option—the capacity to adapt to climate change.

“With this research, we can say, based on these gene-environment correlations, here’s how populations will have to adapt to future climate change, and here are the populations that have to adapt most,” said Ruegg, who also is co-director of the Bird Genoscape Project.

Whether the yellow warbler will be able to adapt is another matter. “That’s our next big question,” Ruegg said.

Valuable information for conservationists

The new study uncovered some of the challenges yellow warblers already face. In some populations, genes associated with climate adaptation are mismatched to environments. These populations will likely have the hardest time adapting quickly enough to future climate shifts.

That’s been the case in the past, too. Comparing the genetic findings to breeding bird surveys dating back to the 1960s that track changes in bird abundance, the researchers determined that the populations that need to adapt most are already in decline. Using genetic maps, the habitats of the populations most vulnerable to climate change can now be targeted for protection, said Rachael Bay, lead author of the study and a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. The findings offer valuable information for conservationists who hope to protect species like the yellow warbler in the future, she said.

“Evolution has the potential to matter a lot when it comes to climate change response,” Bay said. “It’s a process we should start to integrate more when we make decisions, and it’s shown a lot of promise that hasn’t been realized yet.”

The yellow warbler is not currently endangered. It was selected for the study to give researchers a better understanding of how genes relate to climate variables across its broad range. But the bird may serve as a canary in the coal mine for species that are more at risk.

“This is an alarm bell,” said Tom Smith, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA and director of the Center for Tropical Research. “We spend a lot of time asking what is going to happen under climate change, what the effects will be and what we need to do to manage it. Our results shocked us—it’s happening now.”

The study sets the stage for two important next steps, Smith said. First, it means additional studies need to be done to learn how other species adapt to climate change. Second, the findings can be used now to tailor and inform future conservation management."
birds  nature  climatechange  adaptation  genetics  genes  evolution  survival  globalwarming  2018  animals  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  kristenruegg 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Recurrent Domestication by Lepidoptera of Genes from Their Parasites Mediated by Bracoviruses
"Laila Gasmi, Helene Boulain, Jeremy Gauthier, Aurelie Hua-Van, Karine Musset, Agata K. Jakubowska, Jean-Marc Aury, Anne-Nathalie Volkoff, Elisabeth Huguet, Salvador Herrero , Jean-Michel Drezen"



"Bracoviruses are symbiotic viruses associated with tens of thousands of species of parasitic wasps that develop within the body of lepidopteran hosts and that collectively parasitize caterpillars of virtually every lepidopteran species. Viral particles are produced in the wasp ovaries and injected into host larvae with the wasp eggs. Once in the host body, the viral DNA circles enclosed in the particles integrate into lepidopteran host cell DNA. Here we show that bracovirus DNA sequences have been inserted repeatedly into lepidopteran genomes, indicating this viral DNA can also enter germline cells. The original mode of Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) unveiled here is based on the integrative properties of an endogenous virus that has evolved as a gene transfer agent within parasitic wasp genomes for ≈100 million years. Among the bracovirus genes thus transferred, a phylogenetic analysis indicated that those encoding C-type-lectins most likely originated from the wasp gene set, showing that a bracovirus-mediated gene flux exists between the 2 insect orders Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera. Furthermore, the acquisition of bracovirus sequences that can be expressed by Lepidoptera has resulted in the domestication of several genes that could result in adaptive advantages for the host. Indeed, functional analyses suggest that two of the acquired genes could have a protective role against a common pathogen in the field, baculovirus. From these results, we hypothesize that bracovirus-mediated HGT has played an important role in the evolutionary arms race between Lepidoptera and their pathogens."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdja9w0nBdm/ ]
multispecies  morethanhuman  genetics  science  pathogens  2015 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Why domesticated foxes are genetically fascinating (and terrible pets) | PBS NewsHour
"Cultures across the globe consider foxes to be incorrigibly wild. In both ancient fables and big-budget movies, these fluffy mammals are depicted as being clever, intelligent and untamable. Untamable, that is, until an unparalleled biology experiment started in Siberia almost 60 years ago.

The tale begins with Dmitry Belyaev, who was studying genetics during a very dangerous time in the Soviet Union. State officials campaigned actively against genetic research with a tactic known as Lysenkoism, under which hundreds of biologists were either thrown in prison or executed. After Joseph Stalin’s death, the government’s grasp on genetic research loosened, and though it was still controversial, Belyaev was finally able to test a hypothesis he had been secretly pursuing.

As director of the newly-minted Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Belyaev was curious as to how dogs first became domesticated. He decided that to fully understand the process, he must attempt to replicate the early days of domestication. He picked foxes for the experiment because of their close family ties with dogs (both are canids). His research team visited fur farms across the Soviet Union and purchased the tamest foxes on hand. They figured using the most docile of the wild foxes for their breeding program would hasten the pace of domestication, relative to the thousands of years it took to breed dogs.

To prove the foxes’ friendly demeanor was the result of genetic selection, Belyaev’s team began to breed foxes that showed opposite traits of the tame pups. Instead of being outgoing and excited by encountering people, these foxes were defensive and aggressive. This result showed certain aspects of the fox’s behavior could be tied to genetics and spotted during breeding.

What does the (tame) fox say?

Unfortunately, Belyaev died before seeing the final results. But today, 58 years after the start of the program, there is now a large, sustainable population of domesticated foxes. These animals have no fear of humans, and actively seek out human companionship. The most friendly are known as “elite” foxes.

“By the tenth generation, 18 percent of fox pups were elite; by the 20th, the figure had reached 35 percent,” Lyudmilla Trut, one of the lead researchers at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, wrote in a paper describing the experiment in 1999. “Today elite foxes make up 70 to 80 percent of our experimentally selected population.”

University of Illinois biologist Anna Kukekova has been studying these domesticated foxes since the late 1990s. Her lab digs into the genes behind the desirable traits in the animals.

One of the lab’s most interesting findings is that the friendly foxes exhibit physical traits not seen in the wild, such as spots in their fur and curled tails. Their ears show weird traits, too.

Like puppies, young foxes have floppy ears. But the ears of domesticated foxes stay floppier for a longer time after birth, said Jennifer Johnson, a biologist who has worked with Kukekova since the early 2000s.

As the researchers peered into the reasons behind the behavioral traits, they found there isn’t just one gene responsible for the friendly and outgoing behavior.

“The tameness (the nice versus mean) is actually separate from the bold animals versus the shy animals, and the active animals versus quiet animals,” Johnson said. “When these [tame and aggressive] animals are bred, we see a lot of interesting new behaviors.”

Johnson said it has been difficult to decipher these genetic secrets, because unlike for humans and dogs, no one has sequenced the genome of foxes … yet. Kukekova’s lab expects to publish a fox genome sometime soon.

Fly foxes, fly!

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the domesticated fox experiment fell on hard times as public funding for the project evaporated. The researchers realized quickly that keeping more than 300 foxes is an expensive enterprise. In the 1990s, the lab switched to selling some of the foxes as fur pelts to sustain the breeding program.

“The current situation is not catastrophic, but not stable at the same time,” Institute of Cytology and Genetics research assistant Anastasiya Kharlamova told BBC Earth last year. Now, the lab’s primary source of revenue is selling the foxes to people and organizations across the globe.

One customer is the Judith A. Bassett Canid Education and Conservation Center, located near San Diego. The center keeps six foxes — five of which are domesticated — as ambassadors for their species, so that people can get an up-close-and-personal view of the animals.

“We have a fox whose name is Boris, and as soon as someone walks in, he’ll run up to them like a dog will,” said David Bassett, president of the Conservation Center. “He wants to be scratched and if you don’t scratch him he’ll make you.”

Want a domesticated fox of your own? Remember these rules. First, bringing one into the United States costs almost $9,000. Several states outright ban people from keeping foxes as pets, including California, New York, Texas and Oregon. And of course, while domesticated foxes are friendlier than those in the wild, they can still be unpredictable.

“[You can be] sitting there drinking your cup of coffee and turning your head for a second, and then taking a swig and realizing, ‘Yeah, Boris came up here and peed in my coffee cup,’” said Amy Bassett, the Canid Conservation Center’s founder. “You can easily train and manage behavioral problems in dogs, but there are a lot of behaviors in foxes, regardless of if they’re Russian or U.S., that you will never be able to manage.”"
multispecies  foxes  animals  2017  wildlife  nature  genetics  domestication  cytology  dmitrybelyaev 
november 2017 by robertogreco
A biologist explains CRISPR to people at five different levels of knowledge
"For the second part of an ongoing series, Wired asked biologist Neville Sanjana to explain CRISPR to five people with different levels of knowledge: a 7-year-old, a high school student, a college student, a grad student, and an expert on CRISPR. As I began to watch, I thought he’d gone off the rails right away with the little kid, but as soon as they connected on a personal issue (allergies), you can see the bridge of understanding being constructed."

[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sweN8d4_MUg
"CRISPR is a new area of biomedical science that enables gene editing and could be the key to eventually curing diseases like autism or cancer. WIRED has challenged biologist Neville Sanjana to explain this concept to 5 different people; a 7 year-old, a 14 year-old, a college student, a grad student and a CRISPR expert."]

[See also: "A neuroscientist explains a concept at five different levels"
http://kottke.org/17/03/a-neuroscientist-explains-a-concept-at-five-different-levels
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opqIa5Jiwuw ]
biology  CRISPR  genetics  nevillesanjana  science  video  explanation  communication  teaching  complexity  classideas  howweteach  2017  genomes 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Meet the designer cats with wild blood - YouTube
"Bengals, Savannahs, and Toygers, explained.

By breeding house cats with wild animals, cat breeders developed hybrid cats that look like little leopards. Bengal cats are a breed that were developed from breeding domestic cats with asian leopard cats. The first American bengal breeder is a woman named Jean Mill, but her work has continued through other breeders. We met one of those breeders, Anthony Hutcherson, when we went to film the cats at the Westminster Dog Show. Besides bengals, we also saw another hybrid breed: savannahs. Instead of asian leopard cats, savannahs were developed by breeding house cats with servals. Unlike the other two breeds, the last breed we met, toygers, are not hybrid cats. Breeder Judy Sugden created the breed by carefully breeding domestic cats with qualities that resemble wild tigers. To learn more about the cats and the breeders that made possible, watch the video above."
cats  classideas  animals  multispecies  genetics  breeding  2017  nature  pets 
march 2017 by robertogreco
We're Thinking About ADHD All Wrong, Says A Top Pediatrician : NPR Ed : NPR
"Diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are up around 30 percent compared with 20 years ago. These days, if a 2-year-old won't sit still for circle time in preschool, she's liable to be referred for evaluation, which can put her on track for early intervention and potentially a lifetime of medication.

In an editorial just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Dimitri Christakis argues that we've got this all wrong. He's a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and the director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Children's Hospital in Seattle.

Parents, schools and doctors, he says, should completely rethink this highly medicalized framework for attention difficulties.

"ADHD does a disservice to children as a diagnosis," Christakis tells NPR Ed.

Here's why. Researchers are currently debating the nature of ADHD. They have found some genetic markers for it, but the recent rise in diagnoses is too swift to be explained by changes in our genes. Neuroscientists, too, are finding brain wiring patterns characteristic of the disorder.

But the current process of diagnosis amounts to giving a questionnaire to parents and doctors. If they identify six out of nine specific behaviors, then the child officially has ADHD.

"If you fall on this side of the line, we label and medicate you," says Christakis. "But on the other side of the line, we do nothing."

This process is, necessarily, subjective. But there's an awful lot of infrastructure and, frankly, money behind it, especially in our education system. A clinical diagnosis of "chronic or acute" attentional difficulties gives public school students a legal right to special accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. But a child who falls just short of that diagnosis is left without any right to extra support.

Christakis says that, instead, we should be thinking more about a spectrum of "attentional capacity" that varies from individual to individual and situation to situation.

Think of it as a bell curve: On the far left would be someone like Thomas Edison, Mr. "Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration," laboring for weeks or months on a single problem. On the far right is someone with severe ADHD.

Attentional capacity, Christakis says, is chief among a cluster of non-academic skills that education researchers have recently become very excited about: executive functioning, self-regulation, grit. Basically, these involve the ability to delay gratification, manage your time and attention and stay on a path toward a goal.

Every child — every person — struggles with this sometimes. Reading to, singing and playing with young children, and making sure older children get a chance to move around, are interventions that can help all students to a lesser or greater extent. "Our job is to have every child maximize attentional capacity," Christakis explains.

Mark Mahone, a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for children with special needs, agrees with Christakis' concept of a spectrum for attentional disorder. "The current thinking in the field is that attentional capacity and skills do occur on a continuum or spectrum." He also says that in general, pediatrics is evolving toward the idea of proactively supporting attentional functioning in everyone.

But, Mahone says, it doesn't mean that diagnoses and medication aren't helpful and appropriate in severe cases of ADHD. And, he says, there is strong, and growing, evidence of specific brain abnormalities associated with severe ADHD symptoms, which would lend support to the concept of ADHD as a brain disease."
adhd  anyakamenetz  2016  pediatrics  medicine  dimitrichristakis  children  schools  education  parenting  genetics  neuroscience  subjectivity 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Frozen Ark
"The earth is now suffering the greatest loss of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Despite efforts to preserve their environments, at least 30% of all land, fresh-water and marine animals will go extinct within the next fifty years. Growth in human populations has led to habitat destruction caused by the need for agricultural land, by over-fishing, by pollution, and by the acidification of the oceans. These changes are well documented by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and by meetings at The Royal Society.

The Frozen Ark Project was set up in 1996 as a response to this crisis. Its objective is simple - to save samples of frozen cells containing DNA from endangered animals before they go extinct. Almost every single cell in an animal carries a complete blueprint of the animal stored in its DNA. Unless we save this information now it will be lost forever. The need is urgent

This is not an alternative to preserving animals in their natural environments or to keeping them in zoos, but a crucially important extra insurance.

Only very tiny samples are needed. They can be taken without pain to the animal concerned. Samples can be obtained from mouth swabs, from small numbers of hairs or feathers, from blood samples taken in routine veterinary treatments, or even from faeces. Once frozen, cells can be stored safely at very low temperatures, potentially for hundreds of years, in very little space. Ten million samples could be kept within the volume of an average house.

If they are frozen under the right conditions, many cells can be revived and regrown. Recent developments in molecular biology suggest that in the not-distant future animals could be recreated from these cells.

The frozen samples can also help currently endangered animals that have not yet gone extinct, to stay healthy by increasing genetic variation within their populations.

The Frozen Ark has now established a consortium of twenty-two major zoos, aquaria, museums and research institutions in eight countries around the world.  All of them share our aims."
biology  conservation  database  genetics  biodiversity 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Halfsider: a bizarre half-male half-female bird | @GrrlScientist | Science | The Guardian
"A rare half male and half female – “halfsider” – bird won the intertööbz over the holidays. This unusual bird is comprised of two genetically distinct individuals – twins – fused into one being. But what is it like to be such an individual? A recently published paper shares observations of the behaviour and social life of one such bird living in the wild"



"Imagine looking out your window one morning and seeing a bird at your feeding table that looks as if a male and female of the species had been cut in half lengthwise and two opposite-sex sides had been carefully sewn together to create one individual. Perhaps you’d suspect a prank; maybe a local artist had skilfully painted the plumage on one half of a female bird to look like a male of the species? Or perhaps you’d start worrying about what sorts of illegal mind-bending substances might have been added to your food or drink?

.
After you became convinced that such a bird was not a product of your imagination, you might start to wonder what its life is like. Are these half male-half female birds confused? What might it feel like to go through life as a “halfsider”?

Such “halfsider” birds are occasionally seen, but long-term observations of the behaviours and social life of a bilateral gynandromorph – as they are more properly known – are rarer than are the birds themselves. In a newly published paper, two birders, Brian Peer, a Professor of Ecology and Curator of Birds and Mammals at Western Illinois University, and Robert Motz, share their long-term observations of a free-living “halfsider” Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, made during more than 40 nonconsecutive days between December 2008 and March 2010.

“Our observations are among the most extensive of a bilateral gynandromorph bird in the wild”, Professor Peer and Mr Motz write in their paper.

The team report that the cardinal never appeared to pair up, nor did they ever hear it sing. Nor did the bird respond aggressively to recorded Northern cardinal songs that were played to it. Yet despite this bird’s seemingly solitary and silent life and bizarre appearance, Professor Peer and Mr Motz never observed its flock mates behaving aggressively towards it.

This contrasts with behaviours observed for a bilateral gynandromorphic zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, that popped up in a university laboratory more than a decade ago (doi: 10.1073/pnas.0636925100). In that paper, the authors report that their gynandromorph finch sang a typical song and paired with a female, which then produced infertile eggs. The researchers also reported that their zebra finch gynandromorph was attacked when housed with other males. But there is one important difference between that finch and this cardinal: the zebra finch was genetically male on its right side and genetically female on its left – important when considering avian physiology and morphology (read a discussion of why that difference is important in birds).

Professor Peer and Mr Motz were unsuccessful when they tried to capture the “halfsider” cardinal to obtain blood and tissue samples for further study. But previously published research on bilateral gynadromorphic chickens found mostly male cells in the side with male plumage and mostly female cells in the side with female plumage (read more about that study here).

Bilateral gynadromorphs result from an error during early embryonic development, when two embryos – twins – fuse into one individual. These twin embryos may either be the opposite sex or the same sex, but this phenomenon is only visible in species where males and females are visibly distinct, or when the two fused embryos have differently coloured plumage.

In halfsider birds, cells on each side of the fused embryo develop based on their chromosomal makeup, regardless of the hormonal milieu. In contrast, human embryos develop based upon the hormonal milieu that their cells are exposed to. For this reason, gynandromorphism doesn’t occur in humans or other mammals. In addition to birds, bilateral gynadromorphs sometimes pop up in a variety of spineless creatures (crustaceans, arachnids, and insects)."
gender  birds  animals  nature  2015  halfsiders  behavior  genetics 
january 2015 by robertogreco
There is no language instinct – Vyvyan Evans – Aeon
"For decades, the idea of a language instinct has dominated linguistics. It is simple, powerful and completely wrong"



"In the 1960s, the US linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky offered what looked like a solution. He argued that children don’t in fact learn their mother tongue – or at least, not right down to the grammatical building blocks (the whole process was far too quick and painless for that). He concluded that they must be born with a rudimentary body of grammatical knowledge – a ‘Universal Grammar' – written into the human DNA. With this hard-wired predisposition for language, it should be a relatively trivial matter to pick up the superficial differences between, say, English and French. The process works because infants have an instinct for language: a grammatical toolkit that works on all languages the world over.

At a stroke, this device removes the pain of learning one’s mother tongue, and explains how a child can pick up a native language in such a short time. It’s brilliant. Chomsky’s idea dominated the science of language for four decades. And yet it turns out to be a myth. A welter of new evidence has emerged over the past few years, demonstrating that Chomsky is plain wrong.

But let’s back up a little. There’s one point that everyone agrees upon: our species exhibits a clear biological preparedness for language. Our brains really are ‘language-ready’ in the following limited sense: they have the right sort of working memory to process sentence-level syntax, and an unusually large prefrontal cortex that gives us the associative learning capacity to use symbols in the first place. Then again, our bodies are language-ready too: our larynx is set low relative to that of other hominid species, letting us expel and control the passage of air. And the position of the tiny hyoid bone in our jaws gives us fine muscular control over our mouths and tongues, enabling us to make as the 144 distinct speech sounds heard in some languages. No one denies that these things are thoroughly innate, or that they are important to language.

What is in dispute is the claim that knowledge of language itself – the language software – is something that each human child is born with. Chomsky’s idea is this: just as we grow distinctive human organs – hearts, brains, kidneys and livers – so we grow language in the mind, which Chomsky likens to a ‘language organ’. This organ begins to emerge early in infancy. It contains a blueprint for all the possible sets of grammar rules in all the world’s languages. And so it is child’s play to pick up any naturally occurring human language. A child born in Tokyo learns to speak Japanese while one born in London picks up English, and on the surface these languages look very different. But underneath, they are essentially the same, running on a common grammatical operating system. The Canadian cognitive scientist Steven Pinker has dubbed this capacity our ‘language instinct’.

There are two basic arguments for the existence of this language instinct. The first is the problem of poor teachers. As Chomsky pointed out in 1965, children seem to pick up their mother tongue without much explicit instruction. When they say: ‘Daddy, look at the sheeps,’ or ‘Mummy crossed [ie, is cross with] me,’ their parents don’t correct their mangled grammar, they just marvel at how cute they are. Furthermore, such seemingly elementary errors conceal amazing grammatical accomplishments. Somehow, the child understands that there is a lexical class – nouns – that can be singular or plural, and that this distinction doesn’t apply to other lexical classes.

This sort of knowledge is not explicitly taught; most parents don’t have any explicit grammar training themselves. And it’s hard to see how children could work out the rules just by listening closely: it seems fundamental to grasping how a language works. To know that there are nouns, which can be pluralised, and which are distinct from, say, verbs, is where the idea of a language instinct really earns its keep. Children don’t have to figure out everything from scratch: certain basic distinctions come for free."



"In his book The Language Instinct (1994), Steven Pinker examined various suggestive language pathologies in order to make the case for just such a dissociation. For example, some children suffer from what is known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI) – their general intellect seems normal but they struggle with particular verbal tasks, stumbling on certain grammar rules and so on. That seems like a convincing smoking gun – or it would, if it hadn’t turned out that SLI is really just an inability to process fine auditory details. It is a consequence of a motor deficit, in other words, rather than a specifically linguistic one. Similar stories can be told about each of Pinker’s other alleged dissociations: the verbal problems always turn out to be rooted in something other than language."



"Stop and think about this: it is a very weird idea. For one thing, Chomsky’s claim is that language came about through a macro-mutation: a discontinuous jump. But this is at odds with the modern neo-Darwinian synthesis, widely accepted as fact, which has no place for such large-scale and unprecedented leaps. Adaptations just don’t pop up fully formed. Moreover, a bizarre consequence of Chomsky’s position is that language couldn’t have evolved for the purpose of communication: after all, even if a grammar gene could have sprung up out of the blue in one lucky individual (already vanishingly unlikely), the chances of two individuals getting the same chance mutation, at exactly the same time, is even less credible. And so, according to the theory of the language instinct, the world’s first language-equipped human presumably had no one to talk to."



"According to the US comparative psychologist Michael Tomasello, by the time the common ancestor of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis had emerged sometime around 300,000 years ago, ancestral humans had already developed a sophisticated type of co‑operative intelligence. This much is evident from the archaeological record, which demonstrates the complex social living and interactional arrangements among ancestral humans. They probably had symbol use – which prefigures language – and the ability to engage in recursive thought (a consequence, on some accounts, of the slow emergence of an increasingly sophisticated symbolic grammar). Their new ecological situation would have led, inexorably, to changes in human behaviour. Tool-use would have been required, and co‑operative hunting, as well as new social arrangements – such as agreements to safeguard monogamous breeding privileges while males were away on hunts.

These new social pressures would have precipitated changes in brain organisation. In time, we would see a capacity for language. Language is, after all, the paradigmatic example of co‑operative behaviour: it requires conventions – norms that are agreed within a community – and it can be deployed to co‑ordinate all the additional complex behaviours that the new niche demanded.

From this perspective, we don’t have to assume a special language instinct; we just need to look at the sorts of changes that made us who we are, the changes that paved the way for speech. This allows us to picture the emergence of language as a gradual process from many overlapping tendencies. It might have begun as a sophisticated gestural system, for example, only later progressing to its vocal manifestations. But surely the most profound spur on the road to speech would have been the development of our instinct for co‑operation. By this, I don’t mean to say that we always get on. But we do almost always recognise other humans as minded creatures, like us, who have thoughts and feelings that we can attempt to influence.

We see this instinct at work in human infants as they attempt to acquire their mother tongue. Children have far more sophisticated learning capacities than Chomsky foresaw. They are able to deploy sophisticated intention-recognition abilities from a young age, perhaps as early as nine months old, in order to begin to figure out the communicative purposes of the adults around them. And this is, ultimately, an outcome of our co‑operative minds. Which is not to belittle language: once it came into being, it allowed us to shape the world to our will – for better or for worse. It unleashed humanity’s tremendous powers of invention and transformation. But it didn’t come out of nowhere, and it doesn’t stand apart from the rest of life. At last, in the 21st century, we are in a position to jettison the myth of Universal Grammar, and to start seeing this unique aspect of our humanity as it really is."
language  linguistics  instinct  languageinstinct  2014  vyvyanevans  noamchomsky  michaeltomasello  behavior  psychology  evolution  cooperation  howwelearn  languages  communication  universalgrammar  stevenpinker  genetics  languageacquisition 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Amazing Graphics Show How Much Peaches, Watermelon And Corn Have Changed Since Humans Started Growing Them | Business Insider
"If someone handed you a peach 6,000 years ago, you might be surprised: the sour, grape-sized lump you’d be holding would hardly resemble the plump, juicy fruit we enjoy today.

Throughout the 12,000 years or so since humans first developed agriculture, the foods we eat have undergone drastic transformations. Farmers have found ways to select for different traits when breeding plants, turning out generations of larger, sweeter, and juicier crops.

Australian chemistry teacher James Kennedy got interested in the topic and started doing some research. His findings inspired him to put together a series of infographics [http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/artificial-vs-natural-watermelon-sweetcorn/ ]explaining how some of our most beloved snacks have changed over the centuries. With Kennedy’s permission we’ve posted three here: Peach, watermelon, and corn.

First up is the peach:

[image]

Native to China, the original peach was only a fraction of the size we’re used to today and tasted “like a lentil,” Kennedy writes.

“After 6000 years of artificial selection, the resulting peach was 16 times larger, 27% juicier and 4% sweeter than its wild cousin, and had massive increases in nutrients essential for human survival as well.”

Next, the watermelon:

[image]

Kennedy writes, “I set out to find the least natural fruit in existence, and decided it was probably the modern watermelon.In 5,000 years, the watermelon has expanded from its original six varieties to a staggering 1,200 different kinds. Modern watermelons are available in a handful of different colours and shapes, and can be bought conveniently seedless.

“Originally native to a small region of southern Africa, the watermelon is now grown in countries around the world. Modern watermelons are about 100 times heavier than their ancient predecessors and much sweeter.”

Finally, corn:

[image]

Corn was first domesticated in the area we know today as Mexico and Central America. At the time, an ear of corn was only about a tenth as long as the cobs we’re used to today and had just a handful of tough kernels. For the sweet, juicy meal we enjoy today, Kennedy says you can thank the Europeans.

“Around half of this artificial selection happened since the fifteenth century, when European settlers placed new selection pressures on the crop to suit their exotic taste buds,” he writes.

As you can see, we’ve come a long way from the days of our ancestors and the small, unappetizing fruits they munched on.

Click here [http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com ] to check out more of Kennedy’s work at his blog."

[watermelon and sweetcorn:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/artificial-vs-natural-watermelon-sweetcorn/

peach:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/artificial-vs-natural-peach/

blueberries:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/ingredients-of-all-natural-blueberries/

cherries:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/ingredients-of-all-natural-cherries/

lemon:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/ingredients-of-an-all-natural-lemon/

strawberry:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/ingredients-of-an-all-natural-strawberry/

pineapple:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/ingredients-of-an-all-natural-pineapple/

passionfruit:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/ingredients-of-an-all-natural-passionfruit/

banana: http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/ingredients-of-an-all-natural-banana/

coffee bean:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/ingredients-of-an-all-natural-coffee-bean/

egg:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/ingredients-of-an-all-natural-egg/

beetroot:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/if-beetroots-had-ingredients-labels/

banana, blueberry, egg:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/bananablueberryegg-ingredients-posters-pdfs/

“Ingredients” lesson plan:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/ingredients-lesson-plan/

poster set:
http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/full-poster-set-just-99-with-free-world-shipping/ ]
fruit  history  cultivation  peaches  watermelons  corn  produce  agriculture  breeding  jameskennedy  strawberries  pineapples  lemons  cherris  passionfruit  bananas  food  blueberries  ingredients  lessonplans  teaching  chemistry  science  biology  botany  genetics 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Ello | quinn - Ethics of borders
"The tension is around the perceived problems of providing services to people, but the answer there is simple: don't provide services to non-citizens, easily enough done. You already must show ID id obtain services, which is authorized and issued by the state. The state is particularly keen on providing services to as few people as possible. so why not open borders but deny services to non-citizens? It's easy enough to turn away people at hospitals and children from schools, and even sweep up the bodies of the homeless dead, all of whom are likely to even spend what little the have on local products and business before they die or flee. All of these things are in fact done routinely all over the world. The problem is they are also detested as deranged and inhuman by the citizenry of many nations, who would like to take care of children, the sick, and the elderly. So, in order that a government doesn't face the will of its people, those who may need help must be stopped at the border. The question for a nation is simple: if humans are seeking services, is it moral to deny them? The borders make no moral difference to this question. anymore than shutting a door on a request makes the request go away. To only give services to those who then sneak in the window, and call was yourself moral for it, seems insane. If we only want to give service to "our own" we might as well face the dying and pain-ridden hoenstly.

Then there's the foundations of these services and systems of wealth. I'm typing this on an electronic device I took out of a sleeve while wearing clothes all made by people not subject to the services my nation provides, but all this labor is to my and its benefit. I mostly write words, often to criticize my nation -- why on earth am I more eligible for services than the people who make the clothes, electronics, and pick the food that benefits western nations? An accident of birth at best.

(None of this of course applies to migrant labor forces, who both must be imported but given no rights. Hence the industry of illegal immigration, which creates the fully exploitable portion of the labor force every western nation craves.)

When we think about how to better the situations of people from poor nations, we rarely suggest not exploiting them and when we talk about providing services to the poor we never talk of just providing them, where the poor are. In all cases, the governments between people won't let them, as ever, for governments' favorite excuse: their own good.

The obvious problem is that rich states can't provide services to all who need them. This may be the case, which is arguable, but not the subject of this piece. For the sake of argument, let us assume it is. So, how does one choose who to give services to? The accident of location of birth seems an odd criteria, and it is. The real criteria this describes is similarity or genetic relationship to the ruling class, for which location is a reasonably proxy. It's also an obviously amoral criteria: be related to strongmen or apetheir culture, and you may eat and learn and live. Another calculus, a growing one, is extractative: award services to those most likely to generate tax and draftees. But in this phase of history governments are more interest in tax than draftees, and that changes the extractive "in-group" -- fewer soldiers, more elites. Tax is not labor, tax is most likely to come from people who are, on purpose or by accident, the beneficiaries of global slave labor. These are the people governments want in their borders.

Is any of this good? I'd argue no -- it puts extractive lives, be they exploiting labor or destroying the environment -- above all other lives. The extractive class is often just as trapped as everyone else in the situation, in that the majority of them aren't amoral nihilists, only interested in cheap labor and using up the planet as fast as they can, but lack access to political change or even political education."
borders  ethics  geopolitics  2014  quinnnorton  location  genetics  services  labor  exploitation  extraction  extractiveclass  class  society  migration  immigration  rights  illegalimmigration  poverty  wealth  coincidence 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear? - NYTimes.com
"In New England today, trees cover more land than they have at any time since the colonial era. Roughly 80 percent of the region is now forested, compared with just 30 percent in the late 19th century. Moose and turkey again roam the backwoods. Beavers, long ago driven from the area by trappers seeking pelts, once more dam streams. White-tailed deer are so numerous that they are often considered pests. And an unlikely predator has crept back into the woods, too: what some have called the coywolf. It is both old and new — roughly one-quarter wolf and two-thirds coyote, with the rest being dog.

The animal comes from an area above the Great Lakes, where wolves and coyotes live — and sometimes breed — together. At one end of this canid continuum, there are wolves with coyote genes in their makeup; at the other, there are coyotes with wolf genes. Another source of genetic ingredients comes from farther north, where the gray wolf, a migrant species originally from Eurasia, resides. “We call it canis soup,” says Bradley White, a scientist at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, referring to the wolf-coyote hybrid population.

The creation story White and his colleagues have pieced together begins during European colonization, when the Eastern wolf was hunted and poisoned out of existence in its native Northeast. A remnant population — “loyalists” is how White refers to them — migrated to Canada. At the same time, coyotes, native to the Great Plains, began pushing eastward and mated with the refugee wolves. Their descendants in turn bred with coyotes and dogs. The result has been a creature with enough strength to hunt the abundant woodland deer, which it followed into the recovering Eastern forests. Coywolves, or Eastern coyotes, as White prefers to call them, have since pushed south to Virginia and east to Newfoundland. The Eastern coyote is a study in the balancing act required to survive as a medium-size predator in a landscape full of people. It can be as much as 40 percent larger than the Western coyote, with powerful wolflike jaws; it has also inherited the wolf’s more social nature, which allows for pack hunting. (In 2009, a pack of Eastern coyotes attacked and killed a 19-year-old Canadian folk singer named Taylor Mitchell in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.) But it shares with coyotes, some 2,000 of which live within Chicago’s city limits, a remarkable ability to thrive in humanized landscapes.

“We’re kind of privileged in the last 100 years to watch the birth of this entity,” White told me, “and now the evolution of this entity across this North American landscape that we’ve modified.” Evolutionarily speaking, coyotes diverged from gray wolves one million to two million years ago, and dogs from wolves roughly 15,000 years ago. Yet over the past century, as agriculture moved to the Midwest and California, farmland in the East reverted to woodlands. The rise of fossil fuels reduced the demand for firewood. Forests spread, and deer and other prey proliferated, while human intolerance for wolves kept a potential competitor at bay.

Thus did humans inadvertently create an ecological niche for a predator in one of the most densely populated regions of the country. In an exceedingly brief period, coyote, wolf and dog genes have been remixed into something new: a predator adapted to a landscape teeming with both prey and another apex predator, us. And this mongrel continues to evolve. Javier Monzon, an evolutionary biologist at Stony Brook University, has found that Eastern coyotes living in areas with the highest densities of deer also carry the greatest number of wolf genes. Another scholar of the Eastern coyote — Roland Kays, a zoologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh — estimates that the Eastern coyote’s hybrid ancestry has allowed it to expand its range five times as fast as nonhybrid coyotes could have. In the urbanized Northeast, of all places, an abundance of large prey seems to have promoted a predator whose exceptional adaptability has derived, in large part, from the hodgepodge nature of its genome."



"The widespread evidence of intermixing has spurred a reassessment of the notion that hybrids are born failures. In its place a more nuanced view has taken hold: While hybridization can certainly be destructive, it may also expedite adaptation. New creatures may emerge seemingly overnight from cross-species mating. “Long after speciation, even nonsister species can actually exchange genes, some of which are useful,” James Mallet, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, told me.

Indeed, today’s hybrids may signify more than just the erosion of biodiversity. They may signal a kind of resilience in the face of sudden environmental change."
biology  evolution  species  nature  animals  hybrids  hybridity  anthropocene  climatechange  crossbreeding  via:javierarbona  science  2014  biodiversity  genetics  environment  ecology  ecosystems 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Dirt
"This is a collaborative project by Christina Agapakis and Ellie Harmon, supported by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts. While hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Ellie collected samples of dirt throughout California and sent them to Christina's lab. They extracted DNA from the bacteria living in the dirt and sequenced the 16S ribosomal RNA to identify what species of bacteria were there. Click on a picture to see a summary of the bacterial species living in the sample."
california  dirt  oregon  washington  christinaagapakis  ellieharmon  bacteria  genetics 
april 2014 by robertogreco
A Formula for Happiness - NYTimes.com
"Social scientists have caught the butterfly. After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple rules, we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can even construct a system that fulfills our founders’ promises and empowers all Americans to pursue happiness."



"So don’t bet your well-being on big one-off events. The big brass ring is not the secret to lasting happiness.

To review: About half of happiness is genetically determined. Up to an additional 40 percent comes from the things that have occurred in our recent past — but that won’t last very long.

That leaves just about 12 percent. That might not sound like much, but the good news is that we can bring that 12 percent under our control. It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way.

The first three are fairly uncontroversial. Empirical evidence that faith, family and friendships increase happiness and meaning is hardly shocking. Few dying patients regret overinvesting in rich family lives, community ties and spiritual journeys.

Work, though, seems less intuitive. Popular culture insists our jobs are drudgery, and one survey recently made headlines by reporting that fewer than a third of American workers felt engaged; that is praised, encouraged, cared for and several other gauges seemingly aimed at measuring how transcendently fulfilled one is at work."



"Along the way, I learned that rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money. That’s what research suggests as well. Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars like the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.

So relieving poverty brings big happiness, but income, per se, does not. Even after accounting for government transfers that support personal finances, unemployment proves catastrophic for happiness. Abstracted from money, joblessness seems to increase the rates of divorce and suicide, and the severity of disease.

And according to the General Social Survey, nearly three-quarters of Americans wouldn’t quit their jobs even if a financial windfall enabled them to live in luxury for the rest of their lives. Those with the least education, the lowest incomes and the least prestigious jobs were actually most likely to say they would keep working, while elites were more likely to say they would take the money and run. We would do well to remember this before scoffing at “dead-end jobs.”

Assemble these clues and your brain will conclude what your heart already knew: Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others. Franklin D. Roosevelt had it right: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

In other words, the secret to happiness through work is earned success.

This is not conjecture; it is driven by the data. Americans who feel they are successful at work are twice as likely to say they are very happy overall as people who don’t feel that way. And these differences persist after controlling for income and other demographics.

You can measure your earned success in any currency you choose. You can count it in dollars, sure — or in kids taught to read, habitats protected or souls saved. When I taught graduate students, I noticed that social entrepreneurs who pursued nonprofit careers were some of my happiest graduates. They made less money than many of their classmates, but were no less certain that they were earning their success. They defined that success in nonmonetary terms and delighted in it.

If you can discern your own project and discover the true currency you value, you’ll be earning your success. You will have found the secret to happiness through your work."
happiness  work  2013  arthurbrooks  income  money  success  life  living  purpose  genetics  values  faith  family  community  unemployment  mentalhealth  via:lukeneff 
december 2013 by robertogreco
AAAARG!!!! I love the sentiment and the poetry of... • Harkaway
[Embedded image that reads: "You're a ghost driving a meat coated skeleton made from stardust, what do you have to be scared of?"]

"AAAARG!!!!

I love the sentiment and the poetry of this. I do. I get that it’s important.

But (with apologies to Theremina, who is awesome) it drives me CRAZY. Why?

Because NO, NO, NO, you are not a ghost driving a machine. You are not a tiny green homunculus sitting at the controls of a steampunk automaton. You are not Spock trapped in a body that wants to be Kirk. You are not dual, you are not refined intellect riding gross matter like an unruly mustang. You are not Ariel carried by Caliban.

You are you. Your body is you. Your cognition exists in the flesh. [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/11/04/a-brief-guide-to-embodied-cognition-why-you-are-not-your-brain/ ] It is not separate, not spun glass in the hands of a chimp. Your body creates your mind. Your gut, the ropy intestinal tract that digests your food, has 100,000,000 neurons in it. There are quite a lot of animals with fewer than that. Your whole physical shape, your food and drink, exercise, amount of sunshine, of sex, of affection, sitting position and amount of sleep, affects not only your mood but your supposedly pure cognitive choices. Look down and to the left and name a string of random number between zero and ten million. Now do the same looking up and to the right. The second batch will be higher. And your body’s genes play a role in your thinking, too - identical twins separated at birth and raised separately are often seen to develop, if not similar politics, similar moods of political opinion.

The need to separate the body from the mind comes from an old slander that physical matter is dross, simply too crude to support the fineness that is thought. Physical matter, forever dancing around energy, shifting from one configuration to another, even now withholding secrets from our most sophisticated inquisitors, is not crude. It is brilliant, and yes, you are made of stardust and stars are made of you, so why - oh, why - would you try to distance yourself from the beauty of it and reach for comfort in the form of some old Cartesian slur derived from a tacit heteropatriarchal fear of physical desire?

Consider what you are: the most recent iteration of your genetic code, itself the product of strange chemistry in bubbling primordial pools, in turn resting upon vast releases of energy into stunning cold according to a template almost bizarrely suited to the emergence of conscious life - which may, in turn, be a vital component of its function. Caught midway between the appalling vastness of the Newton-Einstein universe and the implausible mechanics of the tiny, you exist in both; composed largely of water, whose relationship with the quantum world is only just beginning to reveal itself, you are gorgeously liminal, fragile, biological and complex.

And, that, that is why you’re incredible."

[via: http://snarkmarket.com/2013/8191 ]
nickharkaway  2013  cognition  humans  embodiment  physicality  context  genetics  complexity  biology  fragility  liminality  liminalspaces 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Anab Jain: Designing the future
"Anab Jain talks about design in a future world of insect cyborgs, mass surveillance, DNA monetization and guerilla infrastructure. "This sort of speculative work explores the remarkable potential of technology and its new experiential aesthetics.""

[See also: http://www.superflux.in/work/staying-with-the-trouble ]

[Alt video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-stunrZcB24 ]
anabjain  superflux  design  future  cyborgs  surveillance  infrastructure  speculativedesign  designfiction  biotech  biotechnology  genetics  science  nearfuture  robots  bostondynamics  23andme  2013  drones  jugaad  thenewnormal  bees  humanism  bodies  humans  vision  blind  prosthetics  memory  consciousness  supervision  film  storytelling  speculativefiction  shanzai  china  innovation  resilience  ingenuity  poptech  body 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Glowing Sushi
"The GloFish® is a patented and trademarked brand of genetically modified (GM) fluorescent zebrafish sold by Yorktown Technologies. Although not originally developed for the ornamental fish trade, it is one of the first genetically modified animals to become publicly available as a pet. Although not originally developed for use in sushi, it is one of the first genetically modified animals to become publicly available as meat."



"A WORD ON INNOVATION

Glowing Sushi is a byproduct of business innovation
in the life sciences.
Innovation is very often doing something that
"wasn't supposed to be done".

ZebraFish weren't supposed to glow.
Glowing ZebraFish weren't supposed to leave the lab.
Glowing ZebraFish weren't supposed to
help fight environmental pollution.
(Actually, that one never panned out!)

Glowing ZebraFish weren't supposed to be sold as pets.
Lifeforms weren't supposed to be patented and trademarked.
GloFish® weren't supposed to be crossbred at home.
GloFish® weren't supposed to be eaten.

A byproduct of innovation is more innovation.
And never quite as one expected.
What do innovators upstream think about their progeny?
Do they even recognize them?
A byproduct of innovation is more innovation."



"California is the only state in the nation that does not allow the sale of GloFish®. Sale or possession of GloFish® remains illegal in California due to a regulation that restricts all genetically modified fish. The regulation was implemented before the marketing of GloFish®, largely due to concern about AquaBounty's AquaAdvantage® Salmon product. Yorktown Technologies has decided to not undertake California's ecological review to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act citing the cost and time involved in that process, as well as the uncertainty of the outcome. Although California is a large state it does share borders with states where GoFish® are totally legal to purchase."

[via: https://twitter.com/Interdome/status/343111155381829632 ]
glofish  zebrafish  animals  fish  genetics  geneticmodification  biotechnology  bioengineering  gmo  sushi  food  innovation  patents  low  legal 
june 2013 by robertogreco
COHEN VAN BALEN
"Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen run a London based experimental practice that produces fictional objects, photographs, performances and videos exploring the tensions between biology and technology.

Inspired by designer species, composed wilderness and mechanical organs, they set out to create posthuman bodies, bespoke metabolisms, unnatural animals and poetic machines."
art  design  cohenvanbalen  revitalcohen  tuurvanbalen  via:bopuc  animals  biology  artificial  bacteria  biotech  biotechnology  bionics  biosensors  sensors  blood  bodies  body  human  humans  brain  memory  cellularmemory  science  choreography  cities  clocks  cooking  cyborgs  documentary  dogs  eels  electricity  ethics  exhibitiondesign  exhibitions  families  genetics  gold  goldfish  heirlooms  immunesystem  immunity  implants  installations  language  languages  leeches  lifesupport  life  machines  numbers  organs  performance  phantoms  pharmaceuticals  pigeons  birds  placebos  poetics  posthumanism  sheep  psychology  rats  prozac  suicide  soap  spatial  serotonine  superheroes  syntheticbiology  video  yeast  utopia  yogurt  translation 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Creepy or Cool? Portraits Derived From the DNA in Hair and Gum Found in Public Places | Collage of Arts and Sciences
"The 30-year-old PhD student, studying electronic arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, extracts DNA from each piece of evidence she collects and enters this data into a computer program, which churns out a model of the face of the person who left the hair, fingernail, cigarette or gum behind.

It gets creepier.

From those facial models, she then produces actual sculptures using a 3D printer. When she shows the series, called “Stranger Visions,” she hangs the life-sized portraits, like life masks, on gallery walls. Oftentimes, beside a portrait, is a Victorian-style wooden box with various compartments holding the original sample, data about it and a photograph of where it was found."
dna  art  science  biology  diy  heatherdewey-hagborg  humans  genetics  portraits  faces  evidence 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Manufactured Animals « NextNature.net
"From the moment humans and wolves first decided to play nice with one another, humans have been directing the development of other animals. After 30,000 years, we have tiny chihuahuas, angora rabbits puffed like pompoms, and Belgian blue cattle with ‘double-muscling.’

Our best friends are just as carefully designed as the latest piece of technology. There’s no doubt that we will bring whole ecosystems of manufactured animals into the world. Where selective breeding stops, genetic modification begins. Next nature will be overrun with next animals."
animals  farming  manufacturedanimals  nextnature  genetics  bioengineering  biotech  biotechnology  cattle  pets  agriculture 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Design for the New Normal (Revisited) | superflux
"I was invited to talk at the NEXT Conference in Berlin by Peter Bihr, as he felt that a talk I gave last year would fit well with the conference's theme Here Be Dragons: "We fret about data, who is collecting it and why. We fret about privacy and security. We worry and fear disruption, which changes business models and renders old business to ashes. Some would have us walk away, steer clear of these risks. They’re dangerous, we don’t know what the consequences will be. Maintain the status quo, don’t change too much.Here and now is safe. Over there, in the future? Well, there be dragons."

This sounded like a good platform to expand upon the 'Design for the New Normal' presentation I gave earlier, especially as its an area Jon and I are thinking about in the context of various ongoing projects. So here it is, once again an accelerated slideshow (70 slides!) where I followed up on some of the stories to see what happened to them in the last six months, and developed some of the ideas further. This continues to be a work-in-progress that Superflux is developing as part of our current projects. "

[Video: http://nextberlin.eu/2013/07/design-for-the-new-normal-3/ ]
anabjain  2013  drones  weapons  manufacturing  3dprinting  bioengineering  droneproject  biotechnology  biotech  biobricks  songhojun  ossi  zemaraielali  empowerment  technology  technologicalempowerment  raspberrypi  hackerspaces  makerspaces  diy  biology  diybio  shapeways  replicators  tobiasrevell  globalvillageconstructionset  marcinjakubowski  crowdsourcing  cryptocurrencies  openideo  ideo  wickedproblems  darpa  innovation  india  afghanistan  jugaad  jugaadwarfare  warfare  war  syria  bitcoins  blackmarket  freicoin  litecoin  dna  dnadreams  bregtjevanderhaak  bgi  genomics  23andme  annewojcicki  genetics  scottsmith  superdensity  googleglass  chaos  complexity  uncertainty  thenewnormal  superflux  opensource  patents  subversion  design  jonardern  ux  marketing  venkateshrao  normalityfield  strangenow  syntheticbiology  healthcare  healthinsurance  insurance  law  economics  ip  arnoldmann  dynamicgenetics  insects  liamyoung  eleanorsaitta  shingtatchung  algorithms  superstition  bahavior  numerology  dunne&raby  augerloizeau  bionicrequiem  ericschmidt  privacy  adamharvey  makeu 
april 2013 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to Singing Sentinels
"The Field Guide is a catalogue of imaginary birds, bioengineered for the anthropocentric world. This speculative birdwatchers companion includes descriptions, behaviours and helpful tips for future sightings. Wander through the city, field guide in hand. These beautiful unnatural specimens will be there with us, after nature,. Spy, high above the rooftop vents, the Green Throated Coal Canary, bioengineered to be sensitive to increased levels of CO2. Track the Red Radars of the Archaeology Institute as they scan the ground for echoes of lost cities, see the luminescent plumage of the Roseshift Canaries as they fan their tails and sing sharply in the clouds of Nitrous Oxide. Explore the engineered ecology, watch these companion birds fly past and listen to their song, a requiem for a changing world. The Singing Sentinels are a vivid expression of life and technology."

[See also: "Silent Spring: A climate Change Acceleration Performance" https://vimeo.com/43378138 ]

"Coal miners once hammered rock with twittering canaries living beside them, their changing song a warning alarm for a dangerous gas leak. These living sensors watched over us and kept us safe.

‘Singing Sentinels’ by London-based architect Liam Young of Tomorrows Thoughts Today explores a future scenario where bio-engineered birds once again monitor the air for us. Eighty birds have been released into the New Order exhibition at the Mediamatic Gallery in Amsterdam as an ecological warning system, living in the space and providing audible feedback on the state of the atmosphere. Across the course of the exhibition Liam performed the climate change acceleration piece 'Silent Spring' seen in the film above. As a 'pollution DJ', he flooded the gallery with CO2, altereing the air mixture to replicated the predicted atmospheric changes of the next 100 years. We hear the canary song subtly shift, their rythmn change and eventually silence, as the birds sing a toxic sky- an elegy for a changing planet.

To accompany the exhibition Liam Young, Geoff Manuagh and Tim Maly have written a near future birdwatchers guide "A Field Guide to Singing Sentinels: A Birdwatchers Companion" with illustrations from comic illustrator Paul Duffield. You can see an excerpt and purchase your copy of the limited edition book online here products.liamyoung.org/ "
liamyoung  geoffmanaugh  timmaly  paulduffield  fieldguides  birds  anthropocene  technology  biotechnology  genetics  pollution  environment  droneproject  bioengineering  singingsentinals  climatechange  nature  animals  silentspring 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Michael Shanks: Archaeological manifesto
"Archaeologists don't discover the past;
they work on what remains
with a view to the present and the future.

Archaeology is THE discipline of things - the history of design, innovation, creativity, how people get on with the material world, materiality itself.

Archaeologists deal in the life of things.

Archaeology is also our only access to a long term perspective on history and what it is to be human Archaeological evidence frequently provides insights counter to the great narratives of history that we have grown so used to over the last couple of centuries.

I have researched megalithic monuments in an archaeology of the prehistoric body, ancient Greek perfume jars in the early city state, the design of contemporary beer cans, managed a project with DaimlerChrysler to develop a model of the car interior of 2015, in an archaeology of the contemporary past. My current fieldwork is revisiting an old genre of writing on the land - chorography - in a study of the Roman borders with Scotland - how to understand and represent a region, in the context of imperial incursion and local response.

Archaeology stretches from genetics to art history, includes laboratory study, fieldwork and survey, statistical analysis, and textual interpretation, combining media old and new, from graphics to virtual reality. I am committed to hybrid practice where art becomes scientific research, where the academy becomes an art sudio, where pedagogy mingles with outreach into the community and industry, where practice can be research, where old disciplinary divisions give way to a committed address to matters of common human concern.

All made possible by our newly fashioned freedoms of digital authorship, collegiality, collaboration and creativity.

New Humanities Post disciplinary practices ...
shifting a custodial model of stewardship - looking after the past
to one of production and creativity - working on what remains to help guide us now and for the future.

Archaeologists work on what remains of the past...
This means that
we are all archaeologists now ..."
archaeology  michaelshanks  past  present  time  humanities  interdisciplinary  creativity  future  genetics  arthistory  fieldwork  statistics  art  media  newmedia  chorography  writing  deepmaps  innovation  materiality  design  designthinking  manifestos  stewardship 
march 2013 by robertogreco
How to Build a Dog - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine
"Scientists have found the secret recipe behind the spectacular variety of dog shapes and sizes, and it could help unravel the complexity of human genetic disease."
2012  dogs  evolution  animals  genetics  science  biology  health  medicine  breeding  pets 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The future will be confusing. Fasten your seat belts. - Do Lectures
"Chris, a designer and computer programmer, asks how computers will change your life, and what happens when technology and genetics collide. The answers are complex and  we may not want to know them. His talk created more debate in the canteen than almost any other."
technology  change  complexity  dolectures  computers  computing  future  chrisheathcote  23&me  taste  supertasters  senses  genetics  science  alfrednorthwhitehead  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
E. chromi on Vimeo
"E. chromi is a collaboration between designers and scientists in the new field of synthetic biology. In 2009, seven Cambridge University undergraduates spent the summer genetically engineering bacteria to secrete a variety of coloured pigments, visible to the naked eye. They designed standardised sequences of DNA, known as BioBricks, and inserted them into E. coli bacteria.

Each BioBrick part contains genes selected from existing organisms spanning the living kingdoms, enabling the bacteria to produce a colour: red, yellow, green, blue, brown or violet. By combining these with other BioBricks, bacteria could be programmed to do useful things, such as indicate whether drinking water is safe by turning red if they sense a toxin. E. chromi won the Grand Prize at the 2009 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM)."
echromi  2009  biobricks  dna  genetics  geneticengineering  bacteria  syntheticbiology  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
You Can't Fuck the System If You've Never Met One by Casey A. Gollan
"Part of the reason systems are hard to see is because they're an abstraction. They don't really exist until you articulate them.

And any two things don't make a system, even where there are strong correlations. Towns with more trees have lower divorce rates, for example, but you'd be hard-pressed to go anywhere with that.

However, if you can manage to divine the secret connections and interdependencies between things, it's like putting on glasses for the first time. Your headache goes away and you can focus on how you want to change things.

I learned that in systems analysis — if you'd like to change the world — there is a sweet spot between low and high level thinking. In this space you are not dumbfoundedly adjusting variables…nor are you contemplating the void.

In the same way that systems don't exist until you point them out…"

"This is probably a built up series of misunderstandings. I look forward to revising these ideas."

[Now here: http://caseyagollan.com/systems/
http://caseyagollan.com/systems/read/ ]
color  cooperunion  awareness  systemsawareness  binary  processing  alexandergalloway  nilsaallbarricelli  willwright  pets  superpokepets  superpoke  juliandibbell  dna  simulations  trust  hyper-educated  consulting  genetics  power  richarddawkins  generalizations  capitalism  systemsdesign  relationships  ownership  privacy  identity  cities  socialgovernment  government  thesims  sims  google  politics  facebooks  donatellameadows  sherryturkle  emotions  human  patterns  patternrecognition  systemsthinking  systems  2012  caseygollan  donellameadows  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
The Essential Psychopathology Of Creativity
"The point here is this: Were it not for those “disordered” genes, you wouldn’t have extremely creative, successful people.  Being in the absolute middle of every trait spectrum, not too extreme in any one direction, makes you balanced, but rather boring.  The tails of the spectrum, or the fringe, is where all the exciting stuff happens.  Some of the exciting stuff goes uncontrolled and ends up being a psychological disorder, but some of those people with the traits that define Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, ADHD, and other psychological conditions, have the fortunate gift of high cognitive control paired with those traits, and end up being the creative geniuses that we admire, aspire to be like, and desperately need in this world.

…If we were to be able to identify the genes for Schizophrenia, or for Bipolar Disorder, or for ADHD… would we want to eliminate them? If we were making a “designer baby”, would you choose those genes to be added into your child’s genome?

I say yes."
lianegabora  johngartner  hypomaticedge  hypomanicepisodes  flow  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  entrepreneurship  executivefunction  cognitivecontrol  psychopathology  genetics  brain  psychology  bipolardisorder  schizophrenia  adhd  andreakuszewski  2010  creativity 
february 2012 by robertogreco
singapore art biennale 2011: candice breitz
"contemplate the idea of individuality, the process of individuation, and one's relationship to a larger community…the process of individuation, and one's relationship to a larger community. in her most recent piece entitled 'factum' 2010, she interviews seven sets of identical twins and one set of triplets (age ranging from teens to grandmothers), that have been edited into dual-channel presentations…

all are mono-zygotic twins who spent their formative lives together and are able to draw upon shared memory and experiences. filmed in a setting of their choosing (in one of the homes of a twin) and asked to dress as identically as possible, the twins were individually interviewed by breitz for about 5 - 7 hours giving both individuals the opportunity to narrate their own story as they chose to. covering intimate topics including childhood, sibling rivalry and family history, and at the same time allowing each subject to address their relationship to the world at large."
candicebreitz  film  interviews  art  identity  community  classideas  individuality  twins  triplets  families  genetics  genes  video  towatch  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Center for PostNatural History
"The Center for PostNatural History is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge relating to the complex interplay between culture, nature and biotechnology. The PostNatural  refers to living organisms that have been altered through processes such as selective breeding or  genetic engineering. The mission of the Center for PostNatural History is to acquire, interpret and provide access to a collection of living, preserved and documented organisms of postnatural origin.

The Center for PostNatural History addresses this goal through three primary initiatives:

The maintenance of a unique catalog of living, preserved and documented specimens of postnatural origin.

The production of traveling exhibitions that address the PostNatural through thematic and regional perspectives.

The establishment of a permanent exhibition and research facility for PostNatural studies."

[via: http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2011/04/richard-pell-director-of-the-c.php ]
future  biology  genetics  museum  richardpell  centerforpostnaturalhistory  history  postnaturalhistory  pittsburgh  geneticengineering  selectivebreeding  life  interviews  cloning  modification  mutation  plants  animals  biotechnology  biotech  culture  nature  postnatural  anthropocene  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Interview with Richard Pell, Director of the Center for PostNatural History - we make money not art
"If you want to see a penguin, you go to the zoo. If you're curious about dinosaurs and dodos, any natural history museum will enlighten you. But where do you go if you want to learn about spider silk-producing goats, anti-malarial mosquitoes, fluorescent zebrafish or the terminator gene?

Right now, you can only rely on good old internet. But in June, the Center for PostNatural History will finally open its doors to anyone interested in genetically engineered life forms. This public outreach organization is dedicated to collecting, documenting and exhibiting life forms that have been intentionally altered by people through processes such as selective breeding and genetic engineering."
future  biology  genetics  museum  wmmna  richardpell  centerforpostnaturalhistory  history  postnaturalhistory  2011  pittsburgh  geneticengineering  selectivebreeding  life  interviews  cloning  modification  mutation  plants  animals  anthropocene  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Gene Mutation Tied to Needing Less Sleep - NYTimes.com
"Dr. Fu said that while many people might sleep only six or fewer hours a night, most were not naturally short sleepers. For instance, they use stimulants and alarm clocks to maintain a shortened sleep schedule.

“Many people get only six hours of sleep a night, but we drink coffee and tea to make ourselves stay up,” she said. “That’s a very different thing. Our body needs 8 to 8.5 hours.”

The genetic mutation appears to be rare. Out of 70 families with known sleep problems studied at the university, only one family carried the mutation. Dr. Fu said fewer than 5 percent of people appeared to be naturally short sleepers.

The real benefit of the research will come if and when the mutation is identified in other individuals. That could lead to new discoveries about sleep timing and duration, and possibly new treatments for sleep disorders."
sleep  psychology  health  science  genetics  mutations  mutants  human  sleepdisorder  insomnia  via:cervus  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Good Show - Radiolab
"In this episode, a question that haunted Charles Darwin: if natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?

The standard view of evolution is that living things are shaped by cold-hearted competition. And there is no doubt that today's plants and animals carry the genetic legacy of ancestors who fought fiercely to survive and reproduce. But in this hour, we wonder whether there might also be a logic behind sharing, niceness, kindness ... or even, self-sacrifice. Is altruism an aberration, or just an elaborate guise for sneaky self-interest? Do we really live in a selfish, dog-eat-dog world? Or has evolution carved out a hidden code that rewards genuine cooperation?"

[Related: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/books/review/deWaal-t.html?pagewanted=all ]

[Update: in case the URL breaks, try this: http://www.radiolab.org/story/103951-the-good-show/ ]
radiolab  good  altruism  genetics  instinct  generosity  evolution  georgeprice  heroism  heroes  gametheory  math  selfishness  self-preservation  human  cooperation  niceness  kindness  survival  reproduction  darwin  charlesdarwin  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Language Log » A doubtful benevolence: Mark Twain on spelling
"Mark Twain:

"As I have said before, I never had any large respect for good spelling. That is my feeling yet. Before the spelling book came with its arbitrary forms, men unconsciously revealed shades of their characters, and also added enlightening shades of expression to what they wrote by their spelling, and so it is possible that the spelling book has been a doubtful benevolence to us."

He leads up to this conclusion with a curious theory of orthographico-genetic determinism, illustrated from personal experience:

"The ability to spell is a natural gift. The person not born with it can never become perfect in it. I was always able to spell correctly. My wife, and her sister, Mrs. Crane, were always bad spellers. Once when Clara was a little chap, her mother was away from home for a few days, and Clara wrote her a small letter every day. When her mother returned, she praised Clara's letters. Then she said, "But in one of them, Clara, you spelled a word wrong.""
language  spelling  marktwain  english  genetics  humor  rewards  childhood  dyslexia  writing  intelligence  cv  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Siblings Share Genes, But Rarely Personalities : NPR
"Theory One: Divergence: The first is a view popularized by a Darwin scholar named Frank Sulloway. In Sulloway's view, competition is the engine that pushes evolution — just as in the wild. Therefore, in the context of a family, one of the main things that's happening is that children are competing for the time, love and attention of their parents.<br />
<br />
Theory Two: Environment: The second theory has a slightly confusing name; it's called the non-shared environment theory, and it essentially argues that though from the outside it appears that we are growing up in the same family as our siblings, in very important ways we really aren't. We are not experiencing the same thing.<br />
<br />
Theory Three: Exaggeration: The final theory is the comparison theory, which holds that families are essentially comparison machines that greatly exaggerate even minor differences between siblings."
psychology  children  families  parenting  evolution  personality  science  siblings  parents  nurture  genetics  heredity  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
The Science Behind Why We Love Ice Cream (and Other Things Creamy) - WSJ.com
"A new genetic study shows that people produce strikingly different amounts of amylase, and that the more of the enzyme people have in their mouth the faster they can liquefy starchy foods.

Scientists think this finding could help explain why people experience foods as creamy or slimy, sticky or watery, and that this perception could affect our preference for foods. For the numerous foods that contain starch, including pudding, sauces and even maple syrup, what can feel just right to some people is experienced as too runny or not melting enough for others because they produce different amounts of the enzyme."
food  taste  texture  pickyeaters  psychology  vegetables  icecream  senses  genetics  science  diet  dna 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Human Kind: Sissela Bok reviews "The Price of Altruism" by Oren Harman | The American Scholar
"For Darwin, the question of human morality never had to do with pure selflessness. In The Descent of Man he expressed his considered conviction that cultural factors such as “the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c.” play a much more important role than natural selection in advancing what he called the moral qualities of human beings, “though to this latter agency the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense, may be safely attributed.”

Harman, in his closing pages, underscores the role that culture and education still play in human altruistic behaviors, despite claims by biological determinists that genes run the show. His book is an important contribution to the collaborative work on altruism as it relates to self-interest now increasingly under way, not only in the natural sciences but also in philosophy, political science, economics, and anthropology."
humans  humanism  altruism  selflessness  education  teaching  learning  culture  economics  philosophy  politics  anthropology  collaboration  empathy  biology  evolution  darwin  behavior  society  genetics  naturenurture  nature  biologicaldeterminism  determinism  orenharman  sisselabok  morality  humannature  charlesdarwin  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
The depression map: genes, culture, serotonin, and a side of pathogens | Wired Science | Wired.com
"Maps can tell surprising stories. About a year ago, Northwestern University psychologist Joan Chiao pondered a set of global maps that confounded conventional notions of what depression is, why we get it, and how genes — the so-called “depression gene” in particular — interact with environment and culture."
depression  asia  culture  psychology  genes  genetics  environment  science  maps  mapping  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Guest Blog: Man's new best friend? A forgotten Russian experiment in fox domestication
[As summarized here: http://o-song.tumblr.com/post/1083774173/happy-skydiving-fox-embracing-bottom-crimewave ] "In Soviet Russia, foxes tame you! Story of a fascinating experiment by which a Russian geneticist secretly bred foxes for friendliness and fearlessness of humans, and which ended up making the foxes look like dogs - unlike wild foxes, they had floppy ears and shorter tails and doggish colour splotches on their coats."
evolution  science  dogs  foxes  domestication  russia  genetics  animals  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Sergey Brin’s Search for a Parkinson’s Cure | Magazine
In other words, Brin is proposing to bypass centuries of scientific epistemology in favor of a more Googley kind of science. He wants to collect data first, then hypothesize, and then find the patterns that lead to answers. And he has the money and the algorithms to do it...But, surprisingly, the concept of genetic information as toxic has persisted, possibly because it presumes that people aren’t equipped to learn about themselves...“People were predicting catastrophic reactions,” Green recalls. “Depression, suicide, quitting their jobs, abandoning their families. They were anticipating the worst.” But that isn’t what happened....In other words, given what seems like very bad news, most of us would do what Sergey Brin did: Go over our options, get some advice, and move on with life...Can a model fueled by data sets and computational power compete with the gold standard of research?
sergeybrin  google  23andme  parkinsons  genetics  genomics  datamining  database  data  dna  disease  medicine  future  search  health  innovation  science  research 
july 2010 by robertogreco
A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret : NPR [via: http://stevemiranda.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/what-cheaters-and-sadists-can-teach-us-about-school/]
"Fallon calls up another slide on his computer. It has a list of family members' names, and next to them, the results of the genotyping. Everyone in his family has the low-aggression variant of the MAO-A gene, except for one person.
neuroscience  crime  ethics  brain  biology  nurture  nature  neurology  psychology  science  violence  genetics  genes  medicine  npr  law  neurolaw 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Quantified Self - What I Learned from Tourette's
"6 months ago, I got my 23andMe genetic test results. They showed mostly what I expected: 30% chance of diabetes...All of these things are found in my extended family to some degree.
alexandracarmichael  tourettes  2010  23andme  dna  genetics  health  quantifiedself 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Curious Cook - Why Cilantro Tastes Like Soap, for Some - NYTimes.com [ends with mention of cilantro pesto]
"smell & taste evolved to evoke strong emotions because they were critical to finding food & mates & avoiding poisons & predators. When we taste a food, brain searches its memory to find pattern from past experience that flavor belongs to. Then it uses that pattern to create perception of flavor, including evaluation of its desirability.

If flavor doesn’t fit a familiar food experience, & instead fits into pattern that involves chemical cleaning agents & dirt, or crawly insects, then the brain highlights the mismatch & potential threat to our safety. We react strongly and throw the offending ingredient on the floor where it belongs.

“When your brain detects a potential threat, it narrows your attention. You don’t need to know that a dangerous food has a hint of asparagus & sorrel to it. You just get it away from mouth.”

But he explained that every new experience causes the brain to update & enlarge its set of patterns, & this can lead to a shift in how we perceive a food."
genetics  food  cilantro  recipes  taste  smell  edg  srg  glvo 
april 2010 by robertogreco
The Atlantic Online | December 2009 | The Science of Success | David Dobbs
"Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people."
nature  nurture  evolution  society  genetics  animals  biology  behavior  genes  creativity  psychology  science  children  success  dandelions  orchids  depression  serotonin  life  toread 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The Science of Success - The Atlantic (December 2009)
"Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people."
education  psychology  science  research  environment  parenting  behavior  relationships  intelligence  evolution  depression  aspergers  genes  nurture  nature  development  networking  success  genetics 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Will Carey – Gifted Dreams
"Gifted Dreams presents illustrations that explore how the dreams and fantasies of children might change as a result of new genetic technologies. This work is part of a series of design explorations that address the social, ethical and personal implications of genetic technology. The book presents an imaginative world that explores the fantasies and dreams of children who have explored what it might be like to live with the abilities afforded by such intervention. Being able to dream and tell stories enables us to extend our understanding of people and society, providing insight into the more complex, colourful and contradictory dimensions of experience beyond the worlds of science and rational choice."
willcarey  art  design  children  dreams  genetics  future  science  fantasy  glvo  srg  edg 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Nicolas Myers :: Portfolio :: Transgenic Bestiary
"Transgenic Bestiary is a game that envisions the use of animal dna to discover biodiversity, understand taxonomy and create imaginary collections of virtual hybrids."

[via: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ludens/3959950591/ ]
nicholasmyers  bestiary  genetics  dna  art  design  taxonomy  science  biology  tcsnmy  biodiversity  imagination  creativity  hybrids  srg  glvo  edg 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Design Interactions, Gifted [via: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ludens/3960704506/]
"speculates on how individual’s genetic make-up may one day be engineered before birth & then controlled or turned off & on throughout a child’s life. The burgeoning & revolutionary science of genetics is here to stay & will surely become part of human evolutionary process in future, however this intervention brings with it moral & ethical issues...addresses some of these issues by focusing on how young children may want to take charge of their genetic future. For instance, a child’s fantasies & desire may subvert & manipulate the very genetic gifts that parents had chosen for them before birth...how might the expression of particular genes be controlled throughout a child’s development? Should the adult or child have control & how might they reach a compromise? By taking children’s ideas & desires as a starting point, this project presents a series of prototypes that give an insight into how the future can be adapted by those that will live it differently to parents in control today."
tcsnmy  genetics  science  ethics  children  parenting  future  art  design  willcarey 
september 2009 by robertogreco
BBC - Earth News - Ant mega-colony takes over world: A single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world, scientists have discovered.
"Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same inter-related colony, and will refuse to fight one another. The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination.
insects  ants  argentineants  colonies  supercolonies  biology  nature  animals  ecology  earth  genetics  science  environment  evolution  emergence 
july 2009 by robertogreco
The geneticist in the garage | Technology | The Guardian
"Meredith Patterson is not your typical genetic scientist. Her laboratory is based in the dining room of her San Francisco apartment. She uses a plastic salad spinner as a centrifuge and Ziploc plastic bags as airtight containers for her samples. But the genetically modified organism (GMO) she is attempting to create on a budget of less than $500 (£350) could provide a breakthrough in food safety.
via:preoccupations  biotechnology  diybio  science  diy  independent  activism  biology  biotech  biohacking  genetics  publicdomain 
march 2009 by robertogreco
DIYbio
"DIYbio is an organization that aims to help make biology a worthwhile pursuit for citizen scientists, amateur biologists, and DIY biological engineers who value openness and safety. This will require mechanisms for amateurs to increase their knowledge and skills, access to a community of experts, the development of a code of ethics, responsible oversight, and leadership on issues that are unique to doing biology outside of traditional professional settings."
diybio  biohacking  biology  education  technology  opensource  diy  howto  biotech  bioart  genetics  genomics  amateur  dna  biotechnology  tcsnmy  projectideas  science  hacking  art  research  bioinformatics  engineering  community 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Routes Game
"Your genes hold some pretty hardcore information; about your size and shape, alcohol tolerance, risk of major disease, maybe even your intelligence. But is that all there is to it? Is your destiny mapped out in your genes? Play Routes over the next 8 weeks and find out. Dig deep enough and who knows what secrets you might uncover...?"
education  games  arg  gaming  genetics  play  narrative  channel4  routes 
january 2009 by robertogreco
My Genome, My Self - Steven Pinker Gets to the Bottom of his own Genetic Code - NYTimes.com
"An obvious candidate for the real answer is that we are shaped by our genes in ways that none of us can directly know...Each of us is dealt a unique hand of tastes and aptitudes, like curiosity, ambition, empathy, a thirst for novelty or for security, a comfort level with the social or the mechanical or the abstract. Some opportunities we come across click with our constitutions and set us along a path in life." "So if you are bitten by scientific or personal curiosity and can think in probabilities, by all means enjoy the fruits of personal genomics. But if you want to know whether you are at risk for high cholesterol, have your cholesterol measured; if you want to know whether you are good at math, take a math test. And if you really want to know yourself...consider the suggestion of François LaRochefoucauld: “Our enemies’ opinion of us comes closer to the truth than our own.”"
stevenpinker  genetics  culture  science  psychology  genomics  DNA  self 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Sports May Be Child’s Play, but Genetic Testing Is Not - NYTimes.com
"In this era of genetic testing, DNA is being analyzed to determine predispositions to disease, but experts raise serious questions about marketing it as a first step in finding a child’s sports niche, which some parents consider the road to a college scholarship or a career as a professional athlete.
technology  sports  genetics  parenting  athletes  dna 
december 2008 by robertogreco
David Byrne Journal: 11.23.08: Planet of the Neanderthals
"So then what happens if we bring Mr. Smarty Pants back to life? If he were joined by some of his mates, wouldn’t they eventually realize that they were smarter than us? Would they bide their time, hiding their agenda, and ultimately sabotage our world, taking charge of our pathetic unintelligent mobs? Cornelius may indeed have been smarter than Charlton Heston; those movies might not be as far-fetched as we thought."
neanderthals  davidbyrne  genetics  dna  intelligence  evolution  darwin  genes  naturalselection  charlesdarwin 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Seed: How We Evolve
"since the turn of the millennium, genomics has undergone a revolution. With the completion of such landmark studies as the Human Genome Project and the publication of HapMap, scientists finally have access to the particles of evolution. They can inspect vast stretches of DNA from people of all ethnicities, and the colossal amount of information suddenly available has spurred a revision of the old static picture that will render it unrecognizable. Harpending and a host of researchers have discovered in our DNA evidence that culture, far from halting evolution, appears to accelerate it."
human  evolution  science  genetics  anthropology  culture  biology  race  DNA  academia  evolutionarypsychology  psychology  intelligence  society 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Emergence Of Agriculture In Prehistory Took Much Longer, Genetic Evidence Suggests
"Until recently researchers say the story of the origin of agriculture was one of a relatively sudden appearance of plant cultivation in the Near East around 10,000 years ago spreading quickly into Europe and dovetailing conveniently with ideas about how quickly language and population genes spread from the Near East to Europe. Initially, genetics appeared to support this idea but now cracks are beginning to appear in the evidence underpinning that model"
archaeology  history  farming  human  culture  society  food  agriculture  genetics  middleeast  botany  civilization  tcsnmy  classideas 
september 2008 by robertogreco
too - LRRK2
"I carry the G2019S mutation and when my mother checked her account, she saw she carries it too. The exact implications of this are not entirely clear. Early studies tend to have small samples with various selection biases. Nonetheless it is clear that I have a markedly higher chance of developing Parkinson's in my lifetime than the average person. In fact, it is somewhere between 20-80% depending on the study and how you measure. At the same time, research into LRRK2 looks intriguing. This leaves me in a rather unique position. I know early in my life something I am substantially predisposed to. I now have the opportunity to adjust my life to reduce those odds (e.g. there is evidence that exercise may be protective against Parkinson's). I also have the opportunity to perform and support research into this disease long before it may affect me. And, regardless of my own health it can help my family members as well as others."
sergeybrin  genetics  optimism  health  future 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: Nationalism
"What do you get when you plot the genetic fingerprints of more than 1000 Europeans on a grid? An image that looks surprisingly like a map of Europe. The findings reveal that our DNA contains a sort of global positioning system, which researchers can use to pinpoint where in the world both we and our relatives came from...."
genetics  maps  mapping  demographics  europe  DNA 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Seedmagazine.com | Revolutionary Minds | The Re-envisionaries
"The more science advances, the less, it seems, that any one discipline holds all the answers—even to the problems that a discipline was originally conceived to answer. So it's not surprising that some of today's most innovative scientific thinkers are making breakthroughs by hybridizing multiple fields. In this installment of Seed's Revolutionary Minds series, we feature five young researchers whose work fuses seemingly disparate disciplines. By drawing upon the techniques, insights, or standard models of other scientific fields, these individuals are redefining their own. Among them are a computer scientist who rethought the concept of information after studying immune systems; an archaeologist who believes material culture is an important driver of human cognitive evolution; and an astronomer who has discovered how to take an MRI of the cosmos. These thinkers are doing more than merely crossing disciplinary boundaries—they are altogether shattering them."
science  innovation  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  seed  neuroscience  astronomy  genetics  fringe  neuroarchaeology  geneticacculturation  immunocomputing  stochasticbiology  biology  physics  astronomicalmedicine  lambrosmalafouris  cognitive  cognitiveevolution  extendedmind  multidisciplinary  archaeology  gamechanging  anthropology  philosophy 
august 2008 by robertogreco
The Quantified Self: First Personal Genome User Group - "what I have learned by messing around in personal quantified genomics in the last six months:
"far less known about proven genetic diseases that I thought...Sequencing is not just about health...Your DNA can reveal much about your deep genetic past...I have been surprised at how fast & eager users have been to share their genetic data"
dna  kevinkelly  genome  23andme  genetics  sequencing  privacy  data  information  health  personalinformatics 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Atlas of the Human Journey - The Genographic Project
"seeking to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. In this unprecedented and real-time resea
history  genetics  maps  evolution  science  human  dna  timelines  storytelling  migration  anthropology  paleontology  humans  ethnography  environment  mapping  visualization  prehistoric  ancienthistory 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Biomimetics - National Geographic Magazine
"What has fins like a whale, skin like a lizard, and eyes like a moth? The future of engineering."
biomimicry  biomimetics  biology  design  engineering  genetics  science  animals  life  nature 
april 2008 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Americas | Scientists advance 'drought crop'
"Scientists say they have made a key breakthrough in understanding the genes of plants that could lead to crops that can survive in a drought."
agriculture  botany  disasters  drought  environment  genetics  science  technology  future  food 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Identical twins not as identical as believed
"Contrary to our previous beliefs, identical twins are not genetically identical. This surprising finding is presented by American, Swedish, and Dutch scientists in a study being published today in the prestigious journal American Journal of Human Genetic
genetics  health  science  biology  twins 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Seed: Will Self + Spencer Wells
"The writer and the genetic anthropologist meet up to talk about place, identity, and what it means to be human."
willself  walking  transhumanism  psychogeography  genetics  evolution  biology  culture  anthropology  religion  history  genocide  human  geography 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Scientists Build First Man-Made Genome; Synthetic Life Comes Next
"With the new ability to sequence a genome, scientists can begin to custom-design organisms, essentially creating biological robots that can produce from scratch chemicals humans can use. Biofuels like ethanol, for example."
genetics  DNA  science  life  biotechnology  robots  coding  cloning  biology 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Human Cloning - Ethics - New York Times
"American and European researchers have made most of the progress so far in biotechnology. Yet they still face one very large obstacle — God, as defined by some Western religions."
science  research  cloning  religion  culture  asia  west  us  europe  biotechnology  genetics 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Nurture is really kicking ass these days....first the IQ thing and now this. (kottke.org)
"The offspring of expensive stallions owe their success more to how they are reared, trained and ridden than good genes, a study has found. Only 10% of a horse's lifetime winnings can be attributed to their bloodline, research in Biology Letters shows."
nature  nurture  iq  sociology  animals  science  research  psychology  horses  genetics 
december 2007 by robertogreco
214 - The Blonde Map of Europe « strange maps
"This map, indicating the varying degrees of ‘blondness’ in Europe, shows how fair hair gets rarer further away from this core area – towards the south, as one intuitively might presume, but also towards the east, west and even towards the north."
mapping  ethnography  maps  scandinavia  demographics  blonde  visualization  europe  biology  geography  anthropology  genetics 
december 2007 by robertogreco
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