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A global viral vector: reality check

May 31, 2013 by Andrew Hessel

bio-chrime prophesy

In Dan Brown’s Inferno [see book review | Dan Brown’s Inferno], an airborne virus permanently modifies the DNA in human cells in one third of the population of the world.

We asked synthetic biologist/genomic futurist Andrew Hessel to comment on this scenario (his co-authored “The Bio-Crime Prophecy” is the cover story in the current issue of Wired UK).

Q: How realistic is Brown’sread more

book review | Whole Earth Discipline

September 23, 2009

whole earth discipline

Source: Wired — Sep 21, 2009 | Douglas McGray

“Stewart Brand: Save the Slums” | In his new book Whole Earth Discipline, Stewart Brand defends genetic engineering, nuclear power, and other longtime nemeses of the green left as good for the planet.

Some people see a squatter city in Nigeria or India and the desperation overwhelms them: rickety shelters, little kids working or begging, filthy water and air. Stewart Brand sees the same places and he’s encouraged.… read more

The Matrix loses its way: Reflections on The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded

May 19, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Matrix Reloaded poster

The Matrix Reloaded is crippled by senseless fighting and chase scenes, weak plot and character development, tepid acting, and sophomoric dialogues. It shares the dystopian, Luddite perspective of the original movie, but loses the elegance, style, originality, and evocative philosophical musings of the original.… read more

Documentary from Motherboard | Singularity of Ray Kurzweil

February 16, 2011

motherboard logo

Motherboard | Ray Kurzweil tells us about his vision of the Singularity — a point around 2045 when computers will acquire full-blown artificial intelligence and technology will infuse itself with biology. His theories have all sorts of supporters, detractors, and critics, but do you even remember what life was like before three-year-olds had cell phones and you actually had to remember facts instead of relying on the internet?


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Motherboard: Exploring the Culture of Technology website

BOOK REVIEW | Dark Hero of the Information Age

March 21, 2005


Source: New York Times — Mar 20, 2005 | Clive Thompson

Norbert Wiener, the inventor of cybernetics, is profiled in a new book, Dark Hero of the Information Age, by journalists Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman.

Cybernetics is the science of feedback — how information can help self-regulate a system. That includes everything from biological mechanisms (like the human immune system) to artificial ones, like thermostats that regulate a building’s temperature. Even in the early 20th century, when Wiener… read more

ask Ray | Physics pioneer David Deutsch, PhD says human level artificial intelligence is possible

January 1, 2000

Aeon - A3

Dear readers,

This is a question from Jacob Sparks who’s the boyfriend of my daughter Amy Kurzweil. He’s working on his PhD in philosophy. His dissertation is on moral epistemology — the philosophical basis of moral systems.

Considering the future of artificial intelligence and its capacity to reflect human ethics, decision making and evaluating priorities is a key focus for theorists who plan for computers to evolve our… read more

HUMOR | The Cure For Information Overload

April 2, 2006

The Singularity may bring major information overload. Is this a cure — or a cause?

HUMOR | The Mactini

December 23, 2009

Source: "The Peter Serafinowicz Show," BBC2 — December 23, 2009

From “The Peter Serafinowicz Show: Christmas Special” on BBC2.

The original MacBook Air commercial for comparison.

Large Hadron Collider rap

March 10, 2011


This is pretty clever. Brought to you courtesy of AlpineKat via YouTube who writes: “Images came from Particle Physics UK,, the Institute of Physics, NASA, Symmetry, Marvel, Einstein Online, and Physics World. Stock footage is CERN’s. They’ll have a lot of data to sort — 15 million GB per year, actually. Want to get involved and donate your computer’s downtime? Visit

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U.S. at the Large Hadron Collider
LHC at home

book review | The Department of Mad Scientists

January 14, 2010

The Department of Mad Scientists

Source: The New York Times — December 24, 2009 | William Saletan

“The Body Electric” | Two years ago, in his book Rocketeers, Michael Belfiore celebrated the pioneers of the budding private space industry. Now he has returned to explore a frontier closer to home. The heroes of his new book, The Department of Mad Scientists, work for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, a secretive arm of… read more

From DIY to DIWO: biohackers, synthetic biologists, and FBI to dialogue at Open Science Summit

July 26, 2010 by Amara D. Angelica

A new generation of biohackers is literally taking the future of biology into their own hands, and it’s raising some red flags with the government. The basic concern: how can we avoid proliferation of dangerous bioagents?

The situation will come to a head on Friday night July 30 at the Open Science Summit conference at UC Berkeley. Edward You, Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI’s… read more

comic | Devotion to duty

February 23, 2010

© xkcd webcomics

Source: xkcd webcomics

Galileo was wrong. The church was right!

September 13, 2010


Source: Galileo Was Wrong conference website — September 23, 2010

An actual conference — not a spoof.  — Ed.

BOOK REVIEW | Augmented Animals

May 4, 2005


Source: Wired News — May 3, 2005

James Auger in his controversial new book, Augmented Animals, envisions animals, birds, reptiles and even fish using specially engineered gadgets to help them overcome their evolutionary shortcomings.

He imagines rodents zooming around with night-vision survival goggles, squirrels hoarding nuts using GPS locators and fish armed with metal detectors to avoid the angler’s hook.

HUMOR | Google does April Fools’ with “Custom time” and Mars trip

April 2, 2008

Google’s Gmail rolled out a fake “custom time” feature, which purports to let users send e-mails into the past and consequently never miss important deadlines again.

And starting in 2014, Google’s home page announced, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on… read more

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