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Science and Technology In Y2K 92

sandman935 writes "The editors at Scientific American have a wrap up of the important discoveries in the year 2000. It's a good read." It covers the gamut from the Golden Rice, Gecko's Toes, DNA Microarrays, and the new extra-solar system planets.
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Science and Technology In Y2K

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    not a lack of sufficient food.

    Too often, food is left to rot on a wharf or in a warehouse as political factions within a faminous country try to use those humanitarian efforts to further their own political agenda.

    Too often, a faminous nation's infrastructure is non-existent or decayed, due to said political factions lining their own pockets instead of fixing the infrastructure.

    Luckily, their is a solution for such countries that have shown they can not govern themselves. If you look at third world countries that are prospering and feeding their selves, you see a common denominator. Look at India, Egypt, Australia, USia, Canada, South Africa, Zimbabwe, yes, they were all settled by the English.

    Contrast these with countries that were settled by other European powers, ie. the Congo, Liberia, Indonesia, Cambodia.

    These starving countries should be forced to accept British rule for a few centuries. Under British guidance, they would learn how to rule themselves, and become proud, self sufficient countries.

    Thank you
  • Beg your pardon? The man raised a perfectly valid point. If you can't refute it, say so, don't just resort to name-calling.

    If you can refute it, on the other hand, feel free to send me an email. I'm willing to back my posts with my real identity.
  • Einstein? Darwin? Both of these believed in a God, or at least spoke about one. Both of them did work which can be used in arguing against creationism. Do you think that others should have been given their funding and projects?

    You're making a mighty big leap.
  • I think most of the change for the Golden Rice was to introduce Beta Caratine into the rice. Which is not naturaly there. And it should be pointed out that most of the GM foods in the USA are desinged to be compatable with this chemical or that to make someone money.

    The Golden rice was designed by a Swiss scientist to lower hunger rates in Africa.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Zachary Kessin ( 1372 ) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Friday December 29, 2000 @07:06AM (#1416595) Homepage Journal
    The Golden Rice is a rather cool thing. It is a GM rice that was created to add some nutriants that tend to be lacking in the diets of the very poor in some parts of the world.

    If the folks who created it get their way it should go a long way to reducing world hunger.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Zachary Kessin ( 1372 ) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Friday December 29, 2000 @08:05AM (#1416596) Homepage Journal
    I was discussing this with a friend of mine a while back about why Bershit (Gennisis) is in the Torah, and ofcourse the reason is that G-d is establishing that he created the universe and therefore can tell us how we should live in it. Not to tell us how he created it.

    Imagine if G-d had said "In the begining was a mass of photons" to the Israelites, all that would have done is to confuse people who did not have the prior knowedge to understand it.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • Where in the heck do you get the idea that a creationist believes *that* ????? I consider myself to believe in creation, and a created earth, but I can't quite go along with what you described. There are a lot of different creation theories - and a lot of scientists that have reasonable doubts to traditional evolutionary thinking. Don't limit your thinking by stereotyping creationists so severely. Being so quick to discount the other point of view is almost.. religious... :P
  • Netfuture has an article about Golden Rice [oreilly.com]
  • It is sequenced when the scientific papers are published.
    The publication usually gives a summary of all the genes identified, with the details uploaded
    to a NiH database.
    For example, the thy cress (sp?) genome was published
    a couple weeks ago, being the first higher plant
    and largest so far.
  • Scares the crap out of me.

    Don't worry. They'll have something for that.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

    You're reading too much into it. People can speak figuratively about God without having any mystic beliefs at all. Don't be too surprised or infer too much whenever you see scientists talk about things only known to God, God's algorithms, etc. Many people use God just as a literary device or character, in connection with just about any deep truth or optimization.

  • by rde ( 17364 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @08:14AM (#1416602)
    What I think I have noticed is that technology seems to be changing away from critical systems to more fluid, biological systems.
    It's definitely happening, but I doubt it's a conscious effort to drive research in that direction. Evolution has been in force for billions of years, and we're at the stage where we're beginning to realise that if there's an easy way to do something, nature's probably found it. As we dig more and more into the nature of plants and animals, we find more and more nifty tricks that can be applied to other areas.
  • > The article here is a bit fuzzy

    That's the way it goes with quantum mechanics.

  • > This year we had a draught that lasted 8 months, followed by 4 months of continuous rain.

    It looks like La Niña tripped a switch when she died: there was a sharp change of weather in lots of places in the USA that date almost to the day they annonced she was gone.

    The question is, is it possible to pin the powerful El/La Niñ* events of the last couple of decades directly on global warming?

  • Disclaimer: I'm talking out my ass, because i personally don't believe in a sentient god.

    It's quite possible that he believes in god, but not creationism. You don't have to take the bible literally to believe in god. I've heared some people go so far as to say that god knows/controls the outcome of interactions in the universe that we would call non-deterministic, and so he/she/it could set up an inital state and let it run and watch it go... Whatever you can imagine... I'll hazard a guess that this guy is not a creationist...
  • by drenehtsral ( 29789 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @07:08AM (#1416606) Homepage
    Is it just me or is the thing about the study of the brain's mechanism for suppressing agressive responses to negative emotions a little scary? Don't get me wrong, i don't think there is anything wrong with brain research (or dna research or computer research or about any other research... It's what keeps our civilization going...), but the potential applications of this, espescially in the current fear-driven medication-crazy culture are really scary. Clockwork Orange, andybody?
    They even mention screening people based on the activity of this neural pathway for their likelyhood to commit violent acts. This is really going to be a can o' worms...
  • Hm. I can blow a few holes in your theories pretty quickly (despite the fact that I'm a pretty WASPy Anglophile myself). Your English examples are all also countries with great expanses of navigable waters - long coastlines, with great harbors, and many inland rivers. (After all the Brits did have the world's best navy & merchant fleet for almost 200 years). Thus transporting food & redistributing capital, even with 18th century technology (ships & wagons), was pretty easy. Whereas most of the poorest African nations, are totally landlocked and drought-stricken to boot. I think the natural resources and historical factional conflicts of these nations are more relevant factors than the nationality of the imperialists who "discovered" them. As in most places worldwide, the national boundaries (drawn mostly by those imperialists) in Africa are pretty arbitrary, which also leads to conflict.

    As far as your other examples go: I don't think there are too many starving Indonesians these days (though many are apparently still beaten with canes). Cambodia was fairly well off until the whole Pol Pot debacle, and they are coming back around now along with Vietnam & the rest of SE Asia. Liberia is coastal, but until the recent strife it was seen as pretty decent - plus it was formed by freed African-American slaves from the U.S. (former English colonies) so I don't think it fits in with your theory. Also, S. Africa & Zimbabwe have a strong Dutch (Afrikaans) & Portuguese influence; Egypt was variously inhabited by folks from Greece & the Roman Empire (remember Cleopatra?), as well as France; French also settled parts of the US (Louisiana) and Canada (Quebec). Not to mention the huge Spanish influence in North and especially Central and South America, the Philippines, etc.

    Finally, you could say that in some of your examples, the countries involved only truly blossomed after getting fed up with the Brits and kicking them out (USA, India, etc.). Maybe that's what you meant by "rule themselves, and become proud, self sufficient countries"?

    I do agree with your "lining pockets" comment though. That's one of the main reasons food and financial aid is not helping those who need it the most.

    #include "disclaim.h"
    "All the best people in life seem to like LINUX." - Steve Wozniak
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @08:05AM (#1416608) Homepage Journal
    Well, the point of golden rice is not yield (as it is in GM crops designed for 1st world countries) but to make a crop that would be more nutritious for subsitenence farmer. Another example of this is transgenic sweet potatoes that have several fold the protein yield.

    I know the argument goes like this -- we should teach these folks just to have a more varied diet. People should grow a greater variety of crops for nutrition, pest and climate hardiness. People should be living under better political and economic systems, without less corruption and more freedom.

    I agree with all of the above, but saying we all agree to these principles doesn't make them happen. In the mean time we lose much of the productive capacity of a generation to malnutrition, and population soars because subsitence farmers must ensure enough children to help with the farm and to support himself.

    When a trauma case comes into the emergency room, the doctor doesn't say "we need to teach this person how to drive better."

  • Hi, flood devastated poverty stricken region N, here are your free rice supplies to keep you going, compliments of the friendly folks at GM.

    However, I don't see many ways of forcing long-term adoption right now, given human cultures general stickiness to certain specific food types, however bad they might be for you...
  • Damn shame though that the strong backlash (biotech corn anyone?) against GM food will prevent the rice from *ever* being used in wide production.

    Steven V.
  • You may be thinking of the high school girl that won the $100k Intel Science Talent Search. Read about it here. [intel.com]
  • Any know how many qbits are they are up to in a single machine now? Last I heard it was around 7 or so. The article here is a bit fuzzy on details but includes a link to qubit.org's intro. Some of the stuff I have read about this seems amazing, almost SciFi like. Applying this technology to cryptography and computing in general could really change things. The "photon takes two paths at once" thing still blows my mind. The world of the very small is a very strange world indeed. I find the idea of qbit based storage and parallel processing the most interesting. Some say quantum computing will never really work but if it does...just imagine where this stuff is going to take us. I can't wait!
  • Any know how many qbits are they are up to in a single machine now?

    Everytime I try to count them they no longer exist!
  • >If you are scared by the trend of medicating for negative emotions perhapse this pill will make you feel better

    The red one or the blue one? ;-)

  • >"Venter's counterpart at the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, told the same audience that "we have caught a glimpse of an instruction book previously known only to God."
    > A man involved in one of the more purely secular and scientific research projects of human history, and he is a creationist?

    Belief in God does not imply creationism.

    Flip back to the theological discussion in the "Cosmos" thread, and you'll see a lot of stuff about what types of God(s) would be compatible with the practice of science.

    Furthermore, just because science does not require the existence of God doesn't mean that it requires the nonexitence of God.

    So no, I see no contradiction here.

    Or as seen in a .sig somewhere on the net - "Science is the game we play with God to find out what His rules are."

  • by styopa ( 58097 ) <hillsr@NOspAm.colorado.edu> on Friday December 29, 2000 @11:10AM (#1416616) Homepage
    As a previous reply (by Zachary Kessin) to this posting mentioned, Golden rice was developed to add nutrients not found in white rice into it. All of the white rice in the world equaly distributed would not solve many of the problems that quite a few third world countries fight, known as malnutrition.

    When Europe had their spheres of influence within Asia they introduced a method of husking the wild rice so that it becomes easier to harvest. The new found ability to create white rice was widely accepted because it allowed for higher production, but what they didn't know is that it strips many of the essential nutrients that the brown rice that they used to produce had. The husk of the rice contains things like beta caratine, and more importantly IRON, which is transfered into the rice if it is not husked early to produce white rice.

    Golden rice causes the iron and beta caratine to accumulate within the meat of the rice rather than only on the husk. This allows farmers in third worlds to continue to produce the high volumes of rice necessary to feed their country while at the same time it prevents people from dieing of rickets or other diseases caused by malnutrition. Sure, if they did not husk the rice and went back to eating brown rice then they would not have the problem, but many of these countries try to produce as much food as possible to prevent malnureshment.

    We cannot just order these countries to stop producing white rice in favor of brown rice. Nor is it feasible to redistribute the wealth in an even way. At the same time I believe that allowing corperations to run without restriction is an equally bad decision. Pure communism and pure capitalism are nice utopias that don't work.

    Saying that all genetic engineering of plants should be stopped because "evil" chemical corperations use it is like saying that all atomic physics research should be halted because the government has nuclear bombs. It is rediculous and uninformed. Sure people will miss-use the technology but it doesn't mean we should ban it.

    More research should be done on genetic/chemical engineering but allowing people to die because you fear technology is negligent. Preventing society from progressing because people fear technology is maladaptive.

    Halting progress due to ignorance is as bad as letting it run rampent for the same reason.
  • Scares the crap out of me.

    I watch how heavily medicated our children are today, usually as the result of a school study and insistence, and I think about what the future holds for my children...

    I was a tough child to raise, although as an adult I'm a fully functioning Helpful Member of Society... but if grade school was *then* like it is *now*, I would have been pumped SO full of medication that God only knows how my life would have gone.

    Someday, we'll all be happily functioning busy bees who no longer have to react to emotions or question anything that makes us angry.

    That's about as scary as it gets.
  • There is no shortage of rice in the world. There is a surplus. There's absolutely no need to go genetically engineering our food sources and putting them into production without any idea of what the long-term effects are going to be.

    There are ways of getting those nutrients into the bodies of those who need them without altering the very structure of plants.

    This "technology in the name of farming" is mostly bullshit to all but the chemical companies who profit from it. Every year, more and more subsidies are given to farmers so that they will lessen their production, yet billions are spent on producing hormones that make a single cow produce more milk and a single plant produce more fruit...

    The irony here is overwhelming.... and the possibility of deeply screwing up our future is ignored by most, in the name of Progress.
  • It's all about extremes. If it gets really warm, parts of the polar ice caps melt, circulate, and lower the temperature.

    Global warming doesn't mean that it's always going to be warm, it means that we're going to see extreme weather. Something like days and days of ice storms in Texas...
  • I hear ya, I moved out of Oregon back to CT, and brought the rain with me, apparently.
  • I'm not claiming evil on everything. I'm just stating that there is no evidence showing what will happen with long-term consumption of GM foods.

    It's being tested on the populations of third-world nations. Kinda like how drug testing tends to take place in poor urban neighborhoods.

    We cannot just order these countries to stop producing white rice in favor of brown rice.

    ...but somehow we can order them to start growing "Golden Rice"?
  • Man there are a lotta shills about recently.
  • I apologize, but I guess to each of us it sounds like the other is spewing a party line. I also say this because noone has yet even considered the fact that this entirely untested crop isn't being used to improve the health of the countries it has been dicovered in, it's being tested on third-world nations.

    Malnutrition is a problem in most countries. Beta Karotene would be good in the diets of most of us, yet for some reason we're not seeing it on the shelves.

    Like my earlier ignored analogy to drug testing in poor urban areas, this point bothers me. Apparently it doesn't bother you. I'm stil allowed to voice this opinion.

    I'm not especially happy with the radiating of beef or other seeds either.

    my email address is there, I just don't make it an easy link for crawlers.
  • ....and suddenly, all is silent.
  • In fact, the environment is definitely getting warmer, according to evidence from the seas released last year. One of the sturdiest pillars of the argument against global warming crumbled under the weight of some 10 million measurements of ocean temperature, which together revealed that the world's oceans have warmed substantially in the past 50 years.

    Still, the cause of this warming is unknown. It is known that the Earth's temperature does not tend to stay contanstant, swinging into ice ages and slightly warmer ages. Showing that the Earth's temperature is changing has some uses, but knowing why would let us know if there is something we should do about it or if it is just a natural occurance we will have to weather.

  • he said that probably because in us it seems to be "politically correct" to be religious while here in europe people would laugh at scientiest who would say same statement as collins did.
  • No kidding, this has been the snowiest month ever in Iowa and it's only December -- I am already sick of shovelling -- if this keeps up, by February I doubt I'll have the strength to heave it on top of the pile...

    If only someone could invent some machine which spews the cremated remains of dinosaurs into the air while shovelling my snow for me... :)

  • As I recall, they made their announcement when "most" of the genome was sequenced - and they still don't know what 99% of it does.

    Isn't that what we give diplomas and degrees for? You finsih all of the classes but yous till don't know what 99% of teh stuff you learned is used for.

  • The point you may be missing is that creationism and evolution are not contradictory.

    Creationism is the belief that some god made the world be like it is now

    Evolutionism is the belief that changes in species are effected by 'good' genes being passed on more often than 'bad' genes.

    The later can easily be considered the means by which the ends of the former are accomplished.

  • I think the advancements in all these fields will produce some interesting machines. Imagine a Genetic algorithm on a Qcomputer. The GA would be coded to produce the most efficent design of a craft to get into earth orbit. Hard contraints would be: Leave the crew alive, do not destroy earth in the process, etc.....
  • Actually, there is almost scientific justification for religeon, wierd as that sounds.

    Godel's incompleteness theorem states that for any mathematical system which is sufficiently powerfull, there are truths which can not be proved, and false statements that can be proved. This sounds kinda odd, until you start to think of reality as a really really complicated and powerfull system of mathematics.

    Here's the fuzzy part I don't understand too well; it still blows my mind. Essentially, some of the ramifications of Godel's incompleteness theorem are that any sufficiently self-referential system causes unpredictable behavior in the system. Presumably, a human brain is sufficiently self-referential to qualify for it to qualify for unpredictability.

    This means that even if we had, for example, a Grand Unification Theory, applying it to a human body would result in something that is unpredictable. As in, run it two times and it will come out different.

    Something has got to be calling the shots for that unpredictability. Maybe you call it quantum chance, maybe you call it a soul. Soul seems good enough to me. So, there's a scientific explanation for the existence of something resembling a soul. I think that should mix science & religeon quite well ;)

    PS: I'm a pretty devout athiest, but this is just too nifty a set of ideas to not spread around.

    PPS: Read the book "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglass R Hofstadter. It's a discussion of intelligence, and gets around to showing (with full logic and stuff) essentially what I said here. Of course, it says it better than I do, and provides all sorts of baclkground info.
  • Not curable yet, and currently there is an outbreak [wisc.edu] of Ebola in Uganda which has taken 162 lives so far (with 421 cases). And, unfortunately, the outbreaks occur primarily in the poorer areas of the world, where the populace cannot afford the cost of immunization. We are not likely to see a significant drop in the occurances of hemmorhagic fevers anytime soon.

    BTW, you're absolutely right that SciAm is a great site (and magazine).
  • My misunderstanding of where you saw the irony.

    Your point is well taken. The news media everywhere sucks in general. SciAm is one of the few somewhat newsy publications that doesn't suck like the general media does.

    Fortunately, outbreaks of most of the really awful diseases are scarce currently. The biggest one now is HIV (AIDS) [avert.org], which has killed about 19 million people, and is well on its way to much larger numbers. There is no cure or immunization yet, and with the large number of different strains being discovered there probably won't be any soon.
  • In a similar vein, here's the review of the year from Need To Know [ntk.net], known to it's readers as "*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk":
    >> REVIEW OF THE YEAR, 2000 <<

    It was shit. Give us another one.

  • Whereas the neural nets are already useful, DNA and quantum computers are unfortunately still far away in the future (barring unexpected breakthroughs).

    Even though I'm a physicist by my profession I'm really excited about the possibilities of genetic manipulation. Just like instruments such as the scanning tunneling microscope allow us to probe and understand the properties of materials at the resolution of individual atoms, decoding and understanding how the DNA works is truly a holy grail of the life sciences.

    The nature herself is the ultimate engineer. When we understand the DNA we also have the means to tell her what to build. Customized drugs, spare body parts, molecular machinery,... there are no limits!

  • I think the term "creationist" has a definition and that my paraphrase of it was pretty close. I would say that as I am defining terms you would not be a creationist. I also believe in God (read the full post). But you are right on a couple of points traditional evolutionary thinking does have some flaws but IMHO and I suspect you can agree with this so does a straight everything was put in place in 6 days ~4000 years ago viewpoint (which is what a strict creationist (as I understand and use the term and as I think most people do means someone who thinks Genises (SP?) 1 is a literal account of the creation) has some *very* serious flaws. Perhaps at this point in the game the best we can do is to describe what we see and know that somewhere, somehow there is a plan for it all. This is what I believe and what I think the official statement on the subject by my church mean at the end of the day. Do some research and you will see that there are some very serious problems with most English translations of the first book of the Bible (got around not being able to spell very well there) and that if you look at the Hebrew alot of it ends up making more sense and that science and religion really are not that far away from each other on this point. In short I was discounting "creationists" and from your post I would say that that term (as I defined it and as I think the first poster was using it) does not describe you or me but does describe some of the people who give religion a bad name. cheers.
  • "Sometime early in the next century, the intelligence of machines will exceed that of humans. Within several decades, machines will exhibit the full range of human intellect, emotions and skills, ranging from musical and other creative aptitudes to physical movement. They will claim to have feelings and, unlike today's virtual personalities, will be very convincing when they tell us so. By 2019 a $1,000 computer will at least match the processing power of the human brain. By 2029 the software for intelligence will have been largely mastered, and the average personal computer will be equivalent to 1,000 brains." I like the first line of this because as we all know the next century begins on Sunday night but there are no good parties this year and I had to work last. :(
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @07:57AM (#1416638) Homepage Journal
    Where from that quote did you get the idea that he is a creationist. Keep in mind belief in God != creationist. For example I believe in God but I am not by any means a creationist. A creationist thinks that the Earth is ~4000 years old was created at one time from nothing and has not changed and could not have changed since that time. Without going into alot of very long detail many people (like myself and I would suspect Francis although from the quote it is impossible to tell for sure)think that scripture tells us why we are here not how we got here. In their best forms both science and religion are searches for truth and are going to lead to the same place. It is true and sad that the best forms of religion in both theory and practice are very rare but they do exist. No irony here just a misunderstanding.
  • They call adenosine, cytosine, guanine, and tyrosine (the A,C,G,T of DNA fame) "amino acids".

    They're not amino acids. Amino acids are what make up proteins. These are nucleotides. Nucleotides make up nucleic acids.

    I can't believe SciAm missed something that basic!
  • uracine replaces tyrosine in RNA, minor difference.

  • All the more reason to join the distributed computing project Folding@Home [stanford.edu], where we figure out how those big long carbon-based chains turn into the twisted little convoluted proteiny things that make every little twitchy thing in your body work.

    Won'tcha give us a hand guvner?

    BTW: I don't recommend the Windows screen saver on Win9x, too unstable. Run or schedule the console version (it runs at low priority, even on Win98), and manually stop/re-start it when you do something that needs more of your CPU.

    BBTW: No firewall support yet. They're working on it.

    PS: All patriotic Canucks, join us! [stanford.edu]

  • In it, Moses is dictating the Torah to Aaron. He starts out "Fifteen Billion years ago there was a big bang and...". Aaron interrupts him and tells him that they don't have enough papyrus to write down 15 billion years of history. They keep whittling it down until they get to just 7 days.
  • This the actual point I wanted to inronize :
    The French media (I don't know about the others) usually seem to be quite confident until it becomes *damn* serious and then they will tell a little more provided the audience won't panick. the problem is that they are not smart enough to explain calmly how serious the problem is in a way that won't lose the audience's attention.
    I remember the excellent film outbreak [imdb.com] with Dustin Hoffmann and I guess such cases might happen on a daily basis.
  • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @06:59AM (#1416644) Journal
    This is quite a funny thing to learn that the disease that was first announced as so frightening by French media and then supposed to have disappeared can now be cured.
    BTW, you'll also love to browse a bit further [sciam.com] on this excellent web site.
    Two thumbs up for the link, Slashdot :-)
  • Sierra Leone is doing pretty well too i hear.. :-)
  • I don't usually believe novelists who write about alien abduction.
  • Either that or they make a killing selling the stuff to GNC and Gyms around the country.

    The latest snack for yuppies to munch on, 'Golden Rice Paddies'

  • Uracine


  • so can we call ACGT as DNA?
  • A growing interest in space-science should NOT lead to a shift of money from other sciences to space science.

    But maybe it should lead in a shift of money from bad dot com business plans to sciences in general

  • If you are scared by the trend of medicating for negative emotions perhapse this pill will make you feel better

  • by bmongar ( 230600 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @07:01AM (#1416652)

    No cure yet but there is a vaccine to help prevent it

  • by bmongar ( 230600 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @07:47AM (#1416653)

    It needs to be said. There is nothing in science today that precludes the existance of a or any god(s). Nor will anything in science ever confirm or deny the existance of god(s). Science explains how things work. They could work that way because they always worked that way, or they could work that way because that's how some divinity wrote the rules. Science cannot know which is true, it can only uncover and apply the rules.

  • Actually there are already working quantum computers. The premise of QC's is that instead of "switches" making up the permutation of 1's and 0's they use atoms which under quantum physical laws can exist as both at the same time. Instead of them being on OR off (1 or 0) its on AND off (1 and 0) at the same time. Definatly some wild shit.

    If you have a 2 qubit computer, you have a possible of 4 bit positions- 01, 11, 00, 10. The fun part is that it's all at the same time. This parallelism is what give QC's their theoretical power.

    Just yesterday I read an awesome (read: non technical) article on ABCnews' page about this very thing. Here's the link. [go.com]
    "Me Ted"
  • by Micro$oft ( 238015 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @09:13AM (#1416655)
    Popular Science Top Ten Science Stories [popularscience.com]

    Here is another related link to the Popular
    Science Web site. It has their top ten science
    stories for this year.

    Has interesting stuff like -
    Pig Organs for Human Transplants,
    Water On Mars,
    Sub Atomic Particals, etc.

  • I think it was meant to be a joke. Here in southern arizona, for the last 15 years it has rained every summer for about a month. This year we had a draught that lasted 8 months, followed by 4 months of continuous rain. And what was weird is usually when it rains, it is hard, brief, a crap load of lightning, then it's done. But this year it was steady, long, and rainstorms lasted days. All of the dirt roads out in the BFE areas are now torn to hell, some are even unreachable unless you have 4 wheel drive. I can see that Global Warming is really affecting this area.

  • usually as the result of a school study and insistence

    It's insane to allow one's children to attend grade school if there is any way to avoid it. The playground teaches mindless conformity to the peer group. Students are taught to blindly obey the dictates of authority figures. Ridiculous concepts of collective responsibility (where students ignorant of the identity of an anonymous troublemaker suffer because of the acts and feigned ignorance of others) are emphasized. Drugs are used to sedate children who aren't sufficiently controlled by the threat of punishment.

    So what is our society doing? We're proposing extending it down to age 3, so we can brainwash the children ever earlier and simultaneously make it easier to put their mothers to work so they can make and buy more consumer crap...

    Some day, we'll figure out a system that produces, say, eight adult humans for every ten children sent into it, instead of the current system that produces two vicious wolves, seven compliant sheep, and one human for every ten children put into it.
  • The problem here is that you have a view of the term "God" that drags in all the Judeo-Christio-Islamic baggage. But Zeus was a god-concept that was not a Creator, not omnipotent, not omnipresent, and not omniscient; none of those attributes are properly even implied by the term "God".

    So this guy could merely believe in a God who just happens to know what DNA does and how it is sequenced. Creationism is not implied by his statement; you are inferring it based on your cultural assumptions.
  • That's the best response you can come up with? I must be a shill because I'm capable of logical thought?

    If somebody GMed a plant to reverse the genders of the plant parts, increase the yield by three orders of magnatude, render the plant unable to propagate naturally, radically change the chemical composition of the edible seeds, and change the growth cycle from one appropriate for the tropics to one suitable for Ohio, what would your response be?

    That's what's been done by random mutation and human selection to tesonite, a wild grass native to southern Mexico. The hybrid mutants differ so radically that, until the advent of DNA testing, many botanists refused to believe they were in fact descended from tesonite.

    This radicaly altered crop? Maize, a/k/a corn.
  • by Throw Away Account ( 240185 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @09:07PM (#1416660)
    Lemme get this straight --

    If I carefully engineer a specific effect into the rice and have extensive oversight, you're opposed because I don't have long-term data. But if I take my rice and expose it to radiation, pick out the mutants, and crossbreed them, without oversight, you're okay with that.

    Because, you do understand that all the crops in use in the world in all of history up to 1990 were created with the second method, right? And nobody does or ever has done any health studies to prove that a new variety is safe before making it generally available in those millenia of ad hoc mutation?

    GM crops, because the changes aren't random, and because the changes are subject to scrutiny, is safer than the methods to create new crops for the last 10,000 years.

    So do something useful, and protest against those dangerous, unsupervised non-GM crops, okay?

  • "But maybe it should lead in a shift of money from bad dot com business plans to sciences in general"

    Surely there isn't any money in these businesses- if they're bad, that means they are losing money. There is therefore no money to transfer.

  • We know that a great deal of our genome consists of rubbish, including repeats of sequences caused by faulty replication and relics of long-ago-inserted retroviruses (for those who don't know, a retrovirus inserts its DNA into the host's own and replicates itself that way). The information contained on genes isn't nicely coded in an unbroken line -- sequences that are actually used for information are frequently interrupted by useless bits called introns (I think). It is the daunting task of the molecular biologist to sift out the DNA that actually does stuff from the massive amounts of noncoding DNA.

    I'm not sure, but the 99% figure may actually be the percentage of our genome that does nothing at all. (Confirmation or refutation would be appreciated!)

  • I read a transcript of the whole to-do at the White House during the genome annoucement, however I missed something that that link pointed out.

    "Venter's counterpart at the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, told the same audience that "we have caught a glimpse of an instruction book previously known only to God." "

    A man involved in one of the more purely secular and scientific research projects of human history, and he is a creationist?

    I'm not hawking any one viewpoint, I just find his position in relationship to his work ironic.

  • "we have caught a glimpse of an instruction book previously known only to God."

    My inference that he is a creationist (or holds a like viewpoint) refers to the fact that he said only God had access to the instruction manual to create life. To me, that infers that he believes God made life, and now he has glimpsed the "instruction manual" that was used.

    It seems to me that a scientific project which seems to show a chemical and secular basis for (and i do stress the phrase "seems to") life would tend to discount a creationist point of view. This doesn't, nor was I implying, that it discounts the existance of God or any higher power.

    I'm not saying that he is not allowed to believe in God, or even allowed to believe in Creationism. Im just saying that a man who believes God created all life seems an ironic choice to head up the mapping of the human genome, IMHO. That is just my opinion, and of course, I could and have been wrong.

  • Re-read my post. Nowhere did I discount the existance of God, nor say that people cannot believe in it/s/he. Just that the view that God created all life seems to run coutner to science and its subsequent mapping of the genome.

  • Practical application of qbit based computers will, at least for the forseeable future, be limited to the scientific community and government due to its high cost and specialized application. The casual user doesn't even have use for quantum tech, for the most part, beyond where FPGAs can take us. Only simulation and codebreaking, amung other very special and parallelizable tasks can easily utilize the unique superpositional states a qbit provides, giving the circuit an inherently parallel nature. However, not long ago they had a breakthrough in reading the state of a qbit circuit without having to destroy it. Now communications, that's an area where quantum research has more practical and forseeable application in ways we will see...
  • As I recall, they made their announcement when "most" of the genome was sequenced - and they still don't know what 99% of it does.

    Can someone confirm this?
  • In other words all the genes in the human body make up only about 3% of DNA. What the human gemome project did was identified where the genes were, not what the genes do. It's the first baby step to re-writing our own source code.

  • There will be a spike in "summer" temperate environments. This will bring about the melting of polar caps and the re-routing of standard ocean currents. Once there is enough moisture in the atmosphere, the temperatures will steadily decline. As the years, months, even days roll by, humans will notice that in order to escape the deep arctic temperatures that will consume the northern hemisphere, they will need to move further south. That's not necessarily the best idea either. Warm currents from the south will blend with the arctic cold from the northern hemisphere, and create even larger storm systems that will blanket the equatorial section of the Earth.

    Global warming does not mean that we'll be wearing shorts in January. What it does mean is that the seasons will be come more extreme and completely unpredictable. Eventually there will be no four seasons. One day will be 90 degrees and the next 10 below zero. Welcome to the fact that we have really screwed up. It is now time to pay.

    The only way to bounce back is to shut the planet down and take about a 100 year rest from resource depletion, fossil fuel use, let the forrests re-grow, and all of the anti-global warming idoits out there to stop their "we aren't going to do any thing to the Earth's climate". Those who refuse to recognize the coming of a new global environment will be the ones who have no way to deal with it when it arrives.

    Read: The Coming Global Super Storm [globalsuperstorm.com] : Whitley Strieber

    Be afraid...be very afraid.

  • Yeah, I thought the same thing too. It was until I realized that I have seen stark weather changes, that I began to see the point. I unfortunately have not seen any "greys", so I'm with you on that. Good read, check it out any way.

  • Toro makes a few good ones. Cheap too. A coupla' hundred dollars and you can throw show and other things as far as you'd like. Check out you local hardware store. Museums are good places to find Dinosaur Bones.

  • I'd think that "previously known only to God" sounds a lot more dramatic than, say, "written completely by random chance".
    Especially when the majority of people (myself excluded) believe in some sort of deity.

    It doesn't really say anything about his beliefs, just his public speaking skills.
  • >>> REVIEW OF THE YEAR, 2000 It was shit. Give us another one. Politician: Yeah, it was a crappy way to begin the millenium. Lets listen to those Nerds and make another Millenium Party for the 2001.
  • The human brain IS a can o' worms Freud.com ;)
  • The human brain IS a can o' worms

    Freud.com ;)
  • Although there are some good points in what you say I also have to disagree with some of it.

    There will be a spike in "summer" temperate environments. This will bring about the melting of polar caps and the re-routing of standard ocean currents. Once there is enough moisture in the atmosphere, the temperatures will steadily decline

    This is just one of the many theories. It is based on the principle that when there is more moisture in the atmosphere the albedo of the earth increases, therefore it reflects more of the Sun's radiation. Less radiation means lower temperatures. Lower temperatures lead you to snow precipitation that increase the Earth's albedo even more...

    But... at the same time, as temperatures lower, less water is evaporated, so there are less clouds. Less clouds less albedo... less reflection, increases temperature...

    And this is just one of the factors. There are many more considerations I don't even mention.

    Although I am no denying the importance of the problem I believe that these alarmist predictions only diminish the credibility of less catastrophic, still serous and more scientific investigations.

    Global warming does not mean that we'll be wearing shorts in January. What it does mean is that the seasons will be come more extreme and completely unpredictable.

    Prediction is a matter of information. Weather might become extreme (another unproved theory), but the principles of its prediction will be the same. With the improvements in technology I can only predict better predictions.

    The only way to bounce back is to shut the planet down and take about a 100 year rest from resource depletion, fossil fuel use, let the forrests re-grow, and all of the anti-global warming idoits out there to stop their "we aren't going to do any thing to the Earth's climate".

    Nobody should deny there is warming effect going on. True, and some measures have to be taken. Again, extremists and alarmists only take credibility out of the real problem. Proposing solutions like this is a mistake. First, you are assuming that the global warmth is caused ONLY by those reasons... there are many other reasons. Do not forget that you are trying to evaluate a billions year process from a 10 year analysis. There has been global warmth periods in the past, there has been glacial ages in the past... so, keep your mind open, be ACCURATE in your studies and PROPORTIONATE in your solutions. Being alarmist and catastrophic will not help, and will make people take this issue less seriously.

  • Since we are shifting towards "more fluid, biological systems", here's something to think about: There exists the possiblitiy to encode something using DNA. Unlike binary systems, DNA offers a base four (A,T,C,G) system which can offer a higher level of encryption. Additionally if the typcial DNA strand can contain enough information for a full human, then think of the possible information that could be stored in terms of megabytes... gigabytes... heck try tertabytes!!! Additionally, this may sound a bit 007-ish, but intellegence/counter-intellegence agencies would have a field day as such modified DNA could be stored safely in a human host and thus makes smuggling information easier. Sounds too much like sci-fi? Well, there was a article (months old by now) of how a female scientist has already been able to encode/decode a simple text message using DNA.

    Project: To Take Over The World
  • Yeah, they've "mapped" the Human Genome and they don't know what most of it does, but by having the "road map" laid out people can know try to tackle various parts of it. Think of it this: there's a challenge to break this encyrpted string. A starting/ending point is established and then the string is broken into several parts and various people attempt to decypher it. Mapping the Human Genome runs parallel to this example. Since the mapping is complete people can now have an established "road map" in which to reference discoveries they've made about gene XX at location YY.

    Project: To Take Over The World
  • Introns are actually bits of the code that are the portions of inactive genes whereas extrons are the active portions. Theoretically all living cells in your body have the exact... (ok to be PC) nearly exact DNA sequence. The difference is that the cells have different genes taht are active (extrons instead of introns). So to say that introns are rubbish is wrong. They are important.

    Project: To Take Over The World
  • I agree! I'm not a physicist, in fact I am merely a lay(wo?)man but I am still excited. I realise that it will be some time before technology does become advanced enough to be robust when its internal structure is perturbed (erm, my command of English is not so great, but I'm sure you get what I mean;).

    It seems to me that there is a close interface between all the sciences at the frontier of genetic engineering. Nanotechnology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, computer science - they all seem to come together at this one point. I think that it is where the disciplines touvh that the most interesting advances will be made (like DNA computing). But then, I don't really know, but it really does fascinate me no end!

  • I've thought about DNA computing myself a few times. It seems to me that the problem might be speed. The Human genome contains about as much information as a CD. Now, the DNA is read by a transcriptor (I think thats what it is called - I'm a little rusty) and each transciptor read 200 base pairs per second. The Human Genome uses thousands of these transcriptors at once, and so it can copy itself in about an hour and a half. This is not very fast! But the main uses for DNA computing, I would guess, would be as massively parallel computing devices, where billions or even trillions of strands can compute independently and be selected for the answer. I believe scientist at Cambridge University recently demonstrated a system of this sort, but please take this with a pinch of salt, because I can't remember the exact details.

    So there may well be an exciting future for DNA computing as part of a massively parrallel computing system, at least until we get Quantum Computing sorted out, hehe.

  • by Lover's Arrival, The ( 267435 ) on Friday December 29, 2000 @07:00AM (#1416682) Homepage
    What I think I have noticed is that technology seems to be changing away from critical systems to more fluid, biological systems. I am not some professor or expert, but what I mean by this is that technologies have always been critical up until now - if you change just one microscopic transistor in a computer, the entire system is broken. The same is true for the components in cars, microwaves, televisions etc etc

    But now we seem to be getting more biological type systems! Neural nets and DNA computers and suchlike are appearing, and they seem to be very robust and non-critical. You can monkey around with them quite a lot without breaking them! Would I be right in thinking, and please bear in mind that I am an ignoramus, that such systems will become more common in the future, and may be a replacement for the design methodologies we use at the moment? When you consider that the most complex thing we know of, the Human Brain, is built with this design philosophy, we can see just how powerful it is, I think. Anyway, thank you for reading my ramblings! I really am getting addicted to this Slashdot lark - work is so boring :-)

Information is the inverse of entropy.