The nationwide experiment will initially include around 100,000 volunteers.
November 2013's selection of notable quotes
November 1, 2013|
SCIENCE STALLED: The government shutdown has shuttered landmarks, such as the Lincoln Memorial, and hobbled science.REIVAX/FLICKR/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
—Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, on the impact of the US government shutdown (The New York Times, October 7)
— Stanford University pediatrician and biostatistician Steven Goodman, on a federal court decision to convict W. Scott Harkonen, former CEO of InterMune, of fraud by overstating a drug’s benefit in a press release (The Washington Post, September 23)
—University of Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, responding to a question about whether religious fanaticism or scientific advancement would lead to mankind’s ultimate undoing (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 24)
—British naturalist and animal documentary filmmaker David Attenborough
(RadioTimes, September 9)
—Suzanne LaBarre, online content director of Popular Science, on the decision to stop allowing user comments on stories posted on the magazine’s website (www.popsci.com, September 24)
—Joshua Sanes, Brainbow coinventor and director of Harvard’s Center for Brain Science, speaking to future law students at Fordham University about mapping the wiring of the human brain (The New York Times, September 17)
November 21, 2013
Mr. Attenborough may be right in saying (or at least implying) that humanity has taken control of its own evolution, whether by manipulating reproduction through legislation or biological intervention, setting stage for massive innovations in genetic engineering and extracting information from the epigenome that will allow us to design ourselves not far in the future.
I'd only add that, to the store of "breeding" strategies with which we have domesticated cattle, sheep, dogs, cats (sort of) and many other two and four-footed sources of food and entertainment, we are now able to use the same or even more imaginative biological interventions to create whole new species and to further refine those that already exist. In fact, we are getting so good at insinuating ourselves into the DNA of other creatures that (inadvertently, of course), we have managed to create whole new varieties of "superbugs" ...
Of course, messing with the internal structures of life is only part of what we do. In saying that we have taken over from nature as the "natural-selector supreme," Mr. Attenborough neglects to mention (though I know he's well aware of it) that our relentless contributions of toxins to the air, land and sea are exterminating countless species of plants and animals. Through our manifold interventions, nature is (so to speak) being denatured.
With such pessimistic prognostications, I feel we must seek out the source of the problem, if we are to sort out how to mend our ways, pay penance for our hubris and attempt to blend our undoubted intelligence with a modicum of wisdom. The most likely origin of our almost cosmic vandalism is actually rather easy to find. We need simply consult The Book of Genesis I-26, 28, wherein God creates our species ex nihilo and gave us "dominion" over the Earth, instructs us to "subdue" it and urges us to "be fruitful and multiply."
I'm not sure if God was just having a bad "day" when he awarded us responsibility for stewardship over the Earth, whether the entire process has just been an elegant if somewhat cruel practical joke from the get-go, or whether the story was just old Moses passing some antique wind.
Whatever the case may be, it is surely time either to broaden the conscious human purposes to which our scientific and technological skills are put, or else to dispense with them altogether.
December 7, 2013
How many potential Nobel prize researchers are strugling to get research support? About 1/100 of the amount of agenda driven hacks, third rate minds with second rate agendas. So al in all we humans may come out ahead, because the truly gifted will still find a way, that is part of their genius. The truly agenda driven, will loose interest and find some other pursuit, or drift back to McDonalds.