DIY biotechnology

A recent news item in Nature‘s web site goes into a fairly long description of the biohackers, and the the title of the article tells it all: Garage biotech: Life hackers. So what is life hacking? Do it yourself molecular biology, viewing biological systems as equivalent to electronic or software systems. It looks to me right now that it’s at the DNA equivalent of phone hacking. That’s not an exact metaphor, but garage labs are created by those just as hacking-oriented as the early phone phreakers. Biopunk – more than John’s novels. Continue reading

Who Let the President Have a Cell Phone?

This is so Sundman that I’m not sure I didn’t already read about it in one of John’s novels are this here Wetmachine.

MIT researchers have shown that a magnetic field applied to a very specific part of the surface of the brain can suppress moral reasoning, influencing the person to coldly judge other people’s means based only on non-moral “facts” such as a description of the ends achieved (or to be achieved?).

The specific area of the brain is right behind the right ear. Gee, do I recall that they gave Mr. Obama a specially modified Blackberry?

Creating reality

I’ve always been interested in the “fake it to make it” credo, which is pretending that you are something until you become that thing.

Fiction writers contiually create realities that exist on paper until someone later makes it real (like Heinlein’s waldos). When governments create realities, then what? Cyberpunk author William Gibson has begun to blog again. In a post Sun, Oct. 17, he quotes an article from the New York Times Magazine by Ron Suskind.

In the quoted section, Suskind recounts a conversation with an unnamed senior advisor to Bush.

‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.’

That level of arrogance, of certainty, scares the heck out of me.

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Bush wants only friendly scientific opinions, example N+1

From my corner of “Tales from the Sausage Factory”: There’s been a lot of buzz in scientific circles about the Bush administration politicizing scientific policy. The recent issue of Nature reports that Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, an eminent molecular biologist, is being ousted from the US president’s Council on Bioethics. Blackburn disagrees with many of the administrations positions, including stem cell research. She has publicly stated her concerns that Council reports have distorted scientific findings.

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