I’ve been thinking lately about whether or not it is possible to formulate a scale of universal cognitive capabilities, such that any intelligent system — whether naturally occurring or synthetic — can be classified according to its cognitive capacity. Such a system would provide us with a normalized scientific basis by which to quantify and compare the relative cognitive capabilities of artificially intelligent systems, various species of intelligent life on Earth, and perhaps even intelligent lifeforms encountered on other planets.… Read More “A Universal Classification of Intelligence”
This is a really great invention — a hand held water bottle that can purify a year’s worth of water. It removes not only parasites and bacteria, but also viruses. It was just announced recently at a defense industry tradeshow and was a big hit among military commanders who need a better way to get water to their troops.… Read More “A Bottle That Purifies Enough Water for a Year”
Whenever a scientist says something like, don’t worry our new experiment could never get out of the lab, or don’t worry the miniature black hole we are going to generate couldn’t possibly swallow up the entire planet, I tend to get a little worried.… Read More “Scientist Says "Never in Our Imagination Could This Happen." Famous Last Words?”
A new finding has discovered that the human genome may be highly networked. That is, genes do not operate in isolation, but rather they are networked together in a far more complex ecosystem than previously thought. It may be impossible to separate one gene from another in fact.… Read More “Networked Genome — New Finding Shatters Current Thinking”
Suspicions of a link between Aspartame (the commonly used artificial sweetener) and various forms of cancer have received another boost from a new Italian study. The study found that even at relatively low levels of consumption, rats exposed to Aspartame had a significantly increased risk of several types of cancer.… Read More “New Aspartame Concerns — Study Finds Link to Cancer At Lower Levels”
Japanese scientists have developed a technique that can encode 100-bit messages into the DNA of common bacteria. The bacteria replicate and pass the message down from generation to generation for at least thousands of years. Because there are millions or more copies of the message it can survive gradual degradation or mutuations (so they claim).… Read More “Scientists Encode Message into Bacterial DNA”
Thanks to Bram for pointing me to this article about how new research indicates that communication in the brain is quite different than we thought. Essentially neurons may release neurotransmitters all along axons, not just within synapses. This may enable new forms of global communication or state changes within the brain, beyond the "circuit model" of neuronal signaling that has been the received view for the last 100 years.… Read More “New Findings Overturn our Understanding of How Neurons Communicate”
This is a somewhat scary article about the hazards of genetically modified grapes and the wines they may be used to produce. The article is from the extreme anti-genetic-engineering perspective, and so I don’t know how balanced it is or what the opposing view might say.… Read More “GM Grapes and Toxic Wines”
Read this fun article that lists and defines some of the key concepts that every post-singularity transhumanist meta-intellectual should know! (via Kurzweil)
Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic
make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what
causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of
The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome – the
genetic recipe of man.… Read More “Major Breakthrough Revolutionizes Genetics”
New research suggests that all the world’s ocean seafood stocks will be gone by 2050…
WASHINGTON (AP) – Clambakes, crabcakes, swordfish steaks and even
humble fish sticks could be little more than a fond memory in a few
decades. If current trends of overfishing and pollution continue, the
populations of just about all seafood face collapse by 2048, a team of
ecologists and economists warns in a report in Friday’s issue of the
… Read More “All Seafood Gone by 2050 — Overfishing and Overpopulation”
A Harvard University researcher believes that moral judgement is hard-wired into the brain:
The moral grammar now universal among people presumably evolved to its
final shape during the hunter-gatherer phase of the human past, before
the dispersal from the ancestral homeland in northeast Africa some
50,000 years ago.
… Read More “Is Moral Judgement Hard-Wired Into the Brain?”
This is so sad. Elephants are increasingly being wiped out due to encroachment by nearby human populations, and also by inept human attempts to help them — and of course by poaching. As their species is increasingly backed into a dead-end corner, and as older elephants are separated from their herds, younger elephants are developing psychological disorders and are becoming violent.… Read More “A World Without Elephants”
New research seems to indicate that memory loss may be related to common viral infections that cross the blood-brain barrier and chip away at cognitive function. Over a person’s lifetime, after two or three of these infections a year, it starts to add up to significant memory loss.
This article is an over-the-top and somewhat gonzo review of an experimental nasal-spray that promises to revolutionize sex. It is currently in clinical trials. The very idea of nasal spray would seem to be one of the bigger turn-offs there is, but in this case they’ve found the override button.… Read More “The Next Sexual Revolution?”
Researchers in South Korea may have discovered a new cure for cancer — a genetically engineered form of a virus that causes colds. By injecting this in animals with cancer it kills 90% of all cancer cells within 60 days, with no other side-effects.
This is a surprisingly good article on the nature of consciousness — providing a survey of the current state-of-the-art in cognitive science research. It covers the question from a number of perspectives and interviews many of the leading current researchers.
This study is strange. But plausible.
Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting
what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between
autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.
The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, and Washington state.
… Read More “New Study: TV May Cause Autism”
For an interesting read — download this wonderful presentation on zooming out in time as a way to predict the future. It’s from a talk given at the Long Now Foundation. Nice visual slides illustrate how the world changes over vast timescales.
This article discusses an interesting fact — some women have extra color receptors enabling them to distinguish a vastly larger range of colors than everyone else. Instead of seeing in 3 colors, they see in 4 — enabling them to tell the difference between 100 million different colors.
This is an interesting article about recent evidence of deep thinking by dolphins:
At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the
dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the
institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their
pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for
… Read More “Dolphins are Smarter Than We Think”
Drug discovery meets quantum mechanics in this article about recent evidence for quantum tunneling in enzymes:
SYDNEY, 25 August 2006: British scientists have found that enzymes
cheat time and space by quantum tunnelling – a much faster way of
travelling than the classical way – but whether or not perplexing
quantum theories can be applied to the biological world is still hotly
… Read More “New Discovery: Enzymes Capable of Quantum Tunneling”
Just read an interesting article on the possibility of "intraterrestrial" silicon-based life on Earth:
SETI spends enormous amounts of money
and resources looking for life outside of Earth’s realm, but life forms
so alien that scientists may simply not have recognized evidence of
their existence could inhabit the Earth, according to a leading
… Read More “Scientist Raises Possibility of Silicon-Based Life”