Thursday, May 23, 2013


M.I.T. Scholar’s 1949 Essay on Machine Age Is Found

A lost essay by Wiener: "The year was 1949, and computers and robots were still largely the stuff of science fiction. Only a few farsighted thinkers imagined that they would one day become central to civilization, with consequences both liberating and potentially dire. [...] If we combine our machine-potentials of a factory with the valuation of human beings on which our present factory system is based, we are in for an industrial revolution of unmitigated cruelty. [...] We must be willing to deal in facts rather than in fashionable ideologies if we wish to get through this period unharmed. Not even the brightest picture of an age in which man is the master, and in which we all have an excess of mechanical services will make up for the pains of transition, if we are not both humane and intelligent." Full essay @ M.I.T. Scholar’s 1949 Essay on Machine Age Is Found -

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Sunday, May 19, 2013


"Our Viral Inheritance" or a Turing machine inside a Turing machine?

A Turing machine inside a Turing machine?

"The enormous scale of the invasion of vertebrate genomes by viral sequences has become apparent through analyses of complete genomes. Sequences derived from many kinds of RNA and DNA viruses have found a convenient resting place in host genomes during evolution, and the process is ongoing. Retroviral genomes, the major and best understood viral insertions, alone account for 6 to 14% of the genomes analyzed to date, including ∼8% of human DNA. These endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) comprise more genomic DNA than that encoding the host proteome. The functionality or otherwise of this "junk" DNA has become the focus of an intense debate. Here we consider a number of consequences of ERV acquisition (see the figure"). Full paper @ Scienve

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Sunday, May 05, 2013


1953: When Genes Became “Information”

"In 1953, Watson and Crick not only described the double-helix structure of DNA, but also embraced the idea that genes contained a code that expresses information and thereby changed our view of life. This article traces how these ideas entered biological thinking and highlights the connections between different branches of science at the time, exploring the power of metaphor in science." Full article @ Cell

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Controlled Flight of a Biologically Inspired, Insect-Scale Robot

"Flies are among the most agile flying creatures on Earth. To mimic this aerial prowess in a similarly sized robot requires tiny, high-efficiency mechanical components that pose miniaturization challenges governed by force-scaling laws, suggesting unconventional solutions for propulsion, actuation, and manufacturing." Full article @ Science

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Recombinatorial Logic

"Logic gates evoke images of circuit boards, but cells are arguably equally good in relying on logic computations. [..] In recent years, there have been multiple reports on rationally designed, genetically encoded logic gates and circuits in living cells. [...] Two studies, [...] by Bonnet et al. and [...] Siuti et al., describe approaches that produce any of the 16 gates, including the notorious XNOR and XOR, in a compact manner by making relatively minor tweaks to the gates' genetic building blocks." Full discussion @ Science

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Thursday, May 02, 2013


Adaptive dynamics under development-based genotype-phenotype maps

Very nice combination of computational biology and artificial life techniques to answer fundamental evolution questions: "Tooth development is used as a model to examine which aspects of phenotype can be optimized by natural selection; this reveals that the complexity of the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic variation can affect adaptation. " Full article @ Nature

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