The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace.
This is StarStuff.
The cloudy, nebulousness of this vial are nanodiamonds, carbon molecules only a thousand atoms strong, bonded together. During the formation of our solar system a cloud of dust ballooned from the collapse of a massive molecular cloud and was circling around what would be our new, baby sun. These carbon atoms were trapped within larger molecules and compounds and became inclusions, embedded within meteorites which would become evidence of the earliest solids that condensed from the cooling of protoplanetary disks.
The Field Museum has part of the oldest known meteorite - the Allende meteorite - from which these carbon nanodiamonds were extracted through chemical processes developed by Philipp Heck, our Curator of Meteoritics. We know how old the solar system is by dating these inclusions from the Allende meteorite, giving us an estimate that our solar system is 4.567 billion years old. The carbon atoms I’m holding in the above photo are, in a sense, our greatest ancestor, and ultimately became the building blocks for all life on our planet.
TL;DR I’m holding our greatest ancestor in the palm of my hand.
1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth, Survey Says
A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.
The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.
To the question “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth,” 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.
Full Story: NPR
Solve for X - Tech Pioneers On Taking Moonshots
I really like the basic idea of the moonshot thinking. The intersection of “a huge problem to solve, a radical solution for solving it and breakthrough technology to make it happen” is a good start for thought-provoking futures and sustainable visions.
Right now, Technology Moonshots are more science fiction than fact, but will be hopefully soon more fact than science fiction.
Last week, Solve for X gathered 60 entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world to discuss 18 moonshot proposals—world-changing projects that work to address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it work.
- Erez Livneh - Virus Decoys
- Daniel Kerber - Re-engineering Refugee Camps and Slums
- Dmitriy Tseliakhovich - Efficient Space Access
- Nicholas Chim - Sustainable Architecture at Scale
- Julia Greer - 3D Architechted Nano Metamaterials
- Ana-Carolina Zeri - Global Science Playground
- Ira Glass - Tries to Boss You Into a Moonshot
- Karen Gleason - Efficiency from Hydrophobic Surfaces
- Aldo Steinfeld - Solar Syngas
- Bob Boyd - The Road Not Needed
- Suchitra Sebastian - A New Generation of Superconductors
- Asel Sartbaeva - Thermally Stable Vaccines
- Ido Bachelet - Surgical Nanorobotics
- Howard Shapiro - Ending Stunting in Africa
- Christopher Wilmer - Efficient Gas Storage and Separation
- Yael Hanein - Artificial Solar Retina
- Lonnie Johnson - Heat Direct to Electric Energy
- Leslie Dewan - Power from Nuclear Waste
Machines are for answers; humans are for questions. The world that Google is constructing—a world of cheap and free answers—having answers is not going to be very significant or important. Having a really great question will be where all the value is.
Machines are for answers; humans are for questions.
This is a key critique against the emerging machine age - which is featuring an almost total human capitulation in front of easy and immediate answers or solutions to shallow and badly formulated questions or problems!
In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.
— Anna Quindlen; How Reading Changed My Life (via wordpainting)
More and more I lived in books, they were my comfort, refuge, addiction, compensation for the humiliations that attended contact with the world outside.
— Lorna Sage; Bad Blood (via wordpainting)
Some of these are for the absolute beginner, others for those merely interested in films beyond what is shown in Visual Anthropology courses, here’s a list of relatively mainstream films that are excellent for the anthropology student:
- Baraka- Because every similar list starts with this one; it…
I’ve read that of the people who write Wikipedia and edit it, something like 85% are male. And this is supposed to be the sum of all human knowledge. But it’s the sum of all human knowledge as written by men about subjects that interest men from a male point of view.
It’s a huge problem. It’s something that we’re really keen to resolve. It’s technically quite geeky which excludes a lot of people. Computer geeks are overwhelmingly male. That is a part of the gender imbalance.Another is that Wikipedia is written in this very authoritative style and, as you know, men have no problem speaking in an authoritative manner about something they know nothing about. And woman are much more sensible. And the third problem is: are we a welcoming environment for a variety of people? There’s a lot of internal research going on about that sort of thing.
The Guardian http://gu.com/p/3medy
Garbage castleToday I spent the entire day going through medieval garbage. That is to say, I went though boxes filled with remains of medieval and early-modern books, which were stored in the archives of Maastricht, in the south of Holland. The snippets and sheets were thrown out centuries ago, but were subsequently fished out of the bin because a new purpose was found for them: recycling. Many ended up in the dark inside of bookbindings, where they supported boards and backs. Not the example above, however, which was used for a more artistic purpose, likely in the late 16th century: the large blank space was perfect for doodling a castle on - and two of its inhabitants. A draft, no doubt, a practice run before the real deal was undertaken. Someone liked it enough, however, to hang on to, although the sheet ultimately shared the fate of his peers - the bin. It may have been recycled again, ultimately ending up filed in a box, and then, today, in my hands. I just love this well-traveled garbage castle.
Pic (my own): Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 18.A Nr. 208.
Lorna showed us her #brain a while back. We were very impressed. No wonder she can #knit so well! @historiccore #crochet” #dtla #knitting #local #losangeles #downtownartwalk #diy #crafts #crafting #artsandcrafts #lys #ravelry #stitchnbitch #knitter #spinner #spinning #handmade #yarn #fiber #ravelry #maleknitting #malecrochet (at Gather DTLA)
The networked car is no longer just an idea; it will be mandated in future vehicles
For the last two years, automakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation have been investigating the idea of cars talking to once another, putting thousands of Wi-Fi connected smart vehicles on a track in at the University of Michigan to see if they could cooperate with another and avoid accidents. Apparently the feds are convinced that the technology is ready for prime-time because on Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is kicking off a process that will one day make inter-networking a requirement in all new vehicles.
The very essence of capitalism is under threat as business is now seen as a personal wealth accumulator. We have to bring this world back to sanity and put the greater good ahead of self-interest. We need to fight very hard to create an environment out there that is more long term focussed and move away from short termism.
Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever
In what was once a wetland and recreation area, e-waste now mars the former picturesque landscape, causing mass-scale pollution in the process. Agbogbloshie is the world’s biggest e-waste site that the around 40, 000 settlers have nicknamed ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’. Most of the ‘workers’ here are young men aged between 7-25 who sift through the e-waste in search of resellable materials, such as copper, earning around $2.50. As a result of the intense and toxic labour they engage in, many of these young men succumb to a myriad of diseases such as untreated wounds, back and joint problems, damage to their lungs and other internal organs, eye issues, chronic nausea, anorexia, respiratory problems, insomnia, and worst of all, cancer.
Photograph by Kevin McElvaney for Al Jazeera