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FE Archive Volume 19, Number 9

Volume 19, Number 9 - 4/30/16 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  




FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • An electronic tattoo can turn your skin into a screen.

  • Humans are becoming a "node" within something larger, providing feedback and data which, in turn, form this massive computing mesh around the globe.

  • Likened to finding a skyscraper in a Kansas wheat field, astronomers have found a supermassive black hole in the middle of nowhere.

  • A new metal foam is strong enough to turn bullets into dust.




PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

Super Inventor Michael Waters Coming to Transition Talks

Inventor Michael Waters has discovered a fundamental mistake in science that is behind most of the crises we are facing today – and he can prove that the concept works with amazing inventions which he will be demonstrating at our May 21st Transition Talk. This idea is behind almost everything we do – our economics, energy, education, politics, science – everything.

The interesting thing is that this simple new understanding fundamentally supports (and demonstrates) some of the most basic tenets of the teachings of esoteric, spiritual masters going back thousands of years. It is the basis for understanding the essential nature of the new paradigm that is rapidly evolving.

Mike Water’s work clearly makes the case that the world is changing in a very big way – and a significant driver of that change will be the new technologies and inventions that are rapidly becoming a reality. His inventions, for example, include an electric airplane that could potentially never have to stop for fuel and energy systems that produce more usable output than is required to operate them. These are based on concepts that conventional science has not yet embraced – but they work.

You can find more information on this fascinating presentation, which will appeal to everyone, regardless of their science background, at www.transitiontalks.org.

Come and experience a first look at an amazing new emerging future.

Postscript: A New Video Show

For a long time, FUTUREdition readers have been sending me emails saying that they’d love to attend our presentations here in Berkeley Springs but they live far away and are unable to make it personally. and could I please videotape the presentation and put them up on our website. Well, it turns out that taping the actual presentations is fraught with problems (both technical and legal) that we are not in a position to deal with at this time.

But . . . what I have been able to arrange, with the good support of our local Arts Council, is a studio-produced program where I interview our speakers before they make their Transition Talks presentations. We call it Postscript and we usually do two 26-minute segments.

I’ve mentioned here before the segments that I did with Alain Nu, the wonderful mentalist who bent a spoon on camera without touching it. (All of the production staff were quite impressed!)


Our last speaker, dowser Joey Korn, was quite interesting as I probed him about what it really was that he was doing and what his understanding of reality was that supported the amazing things that he is able to do with dowsing rods.

You can find the past (and future) segments here! Enjoy!

Really Big Ideas

I’ve been impressed with the number of really big idea issues that have shown up here in the last couple of weeks. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, since I’ve been talking for a long time about the extraordinary change that is inbound and how it will enabled by and studded with the accelerating emergence of breakthroughs and other threats to the status quo.

As with all of these things, it’s easy to rather abstractly and conceptually talk about these possibilities, but quite something else when they are looming in your face on the near horizon. That is particularly the case with Ben Davidson’s work. Ben, the proprietor of Suspicious0bservers.com produces a morning 4-5 minute review of all things cosmic and planetary that is must viewing if you have any interest at all in what is happening on the sun and how it might affect our weather and other earth changes. I highly recommend it.


But what Ben also does is put his arms around some of the biggest trends in this part of the galaxy and how those clear indicators point to dramatic change in our future. That’s particularly the case with his brand new summary of how the concurrence of solar flares and a rapidly decreasing earth magnetosphere (coupled with the increasingly complex and interdependent way in which humans now live) are setting things up for some potentially really big change. You can watch the short video here.

Then, there’s David Stockman, one of the authors and executors of Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics. Hardly pitching those kinds of ideas anymore, Stockman now is one of only a handful of financial and economic analysts– mostly conservatives, it seems – who are clearly looking through the obfuscation of governments, press, and Wall Street to analyze and forecast really big change in the future of our economic system.

Always interesting and provocative, Stockman’s latest missive makes clear – in big, bold ways – that the present is not going to even be close to the same in the future. Fasten your seat belt.

The Lemmings Of Wall Street
by David Stockman April 23, 2016

I mistakenly took Squawk Box off mute this morning. It was just in time to hear one of the regular anchors—–the one who makes Joe Kernen sound slightly insightful by comparison——forecast a pick-up in global growth on the grounds that “China is recovering”.

Yes, the credit intoxicated land of the Red Ponzi just tied one on for the record books. During Q1 it generated new debt at a madcap annual rate of $4 trillion or nearly 40% of GDP.

And that incendiary deposit of more unpayable debt, which came on top of the $30 trillion already smothering history’s greatest construction site and open air gambling den, did indeed goose China’s real estate prices, state company CapEx, infrastructure building and steel production. Call it fiat growth because even pyramid building adds to stated GDP, at first.

Even then, the overwhelming share of this explosion of new credit went to pay interest on the existing mountain of IOUs. Charles Ponzi could never have imagined a scam so audacious.

Nor are the red suzerains of Beijing unique in the headlong dash toward the financial cliff. Except for the nicety that Japan’s 30-year and 40-year bonds are trading at a microscopic fraction this side of zero (0.3%), Kuroda and his tiny band of mad men at the BOJ have driven the entirety of Japan’s monumental public debt——which is now actually measured in the quadrillions of yen—–into the netherworld of negative yield.

Needless to say, the visage of an old age colony being hurtled toward the edge of a debt cliff by central bankers who have taken leave of their faculties does not bring the idea of economic recovery and growth immediately to mind. Finish article.


David Stockman is clearly a harbinger of big change, but he mostly talks about economics and finance – which are only a couple dimensions of the extraordinary change that is upon us. One wonderful source that takes a larger, higher perspective is wanttoknow.info. Leader Fred Burks and the other folks at this site often generate big, soaring pictures of what they address, a welcome alternative to the relatively myopic vision of most writers.

WantToKnow.info published two particularly great pieces this week. Let’s start by reviewing some of the reasons why it is not commonly clear what’s going on to us and the planet.

Magician's Veil Hides Life Truths
By Sigmund Fraud / themindunleashed.org

For a magician to fool his audience, his deceit must go unseen. To this end, the master of deception crafts ingenious illusions to divert attention from reality. As the audience is held entranced, the deceptive acts are committed. For the gullible, reality then becomes inexplicably built upon on a lie. That is, until the those fooled wake up, realize that they have been duped, and recognize the truth. Maintaining belief in the illusion, however, is often more comforting than exposing the magician’s secrets.

We live in a world of illusion carefully crafted by unseen magicians. So many of the concerns that occupy the mind and the tasks that fill the calendar arise from unconsciously implanted impulses to become someone or something that we are not. This is no accident. As we are indoctrinated into the corporate-consumer culture that now dominates the human race, we are entrained from a very early age into a collective mentality that espouses untouchable truths and promotes particular ways of being and behaving as required to succeed in our world.

Remorseless psychopaths within the power elite in our world act as the cunning magicians who subtly manipulate us with countless unseen deceptions. They blind us with endless barrages of innuendos and absolutes aimed at shattering self-confidence. And the vast majority on our planet are too overwhelmed or too complacent to peer behind the magician's veil and explore the deeper truths awaiting those with the courage to go there.

Banksy, the revered and elusive revolutionary street artist, once commented:

“Advertisers are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you, and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. And all the while, they are laughing at you.” - Banksy

Yet advertising is just the tip of the iceberg. When we look further, we see the overall organization of life in our modern world is centered around the pursuit of illusions and automatic obedience to institutions and ideas which are not at all what they seem. Most of us are in a very real sense enslaved by this system. Many call this somewhat intangible feeling of oppression "the matrix," a system of pervasive control that invades the mind, programming individuals to pattern themselves in accordance with a mainstream conformist version of reality, no matter how wicked it gets.

Six of the grandest of the illusions which keep us enslaved to the matrix, the ones that have so many of us still entranced, are outlined below for your consideration. Continue reading . . .


Next, the WantToKnow.info editors describe the process of creating a new paradigm. This is very important, because it’s one thing to lament – or just describe – what is going on around us, but quite something else to begin to illuminate a compelling path toward a desirable future. Burks and his folks begin to do that with this piece about what you can do to begin to redefine the embedded framework that you (and all of us) have that describes our notion of reality .

Creating a New Paradigm
"All the darkness of the world cannot put out the light of a single candle."

Together, we are creating a new paradigm on Earth. Yet in order to give meaningful suggestions to further support this, we first need to speak candidly about the old paradigm. It appears that there are factions within the world's power elite which still desire to exert as much control as possible over the world.

Their primary means for establishing control are through promoting fear, secrecy, and polarization, and through distracting people from their deeper purpose in life. When these factions gain greater power and control, our freedoms and liberties are increasingly taken away, sometimes without our even realizing it.

Fear is used as a powerful tool of control by these factions of the global elite. "The terrorists want to kill us all. Your job, home, and retirement are no longer secure. You are either for us or against us. We might be attacked at any time." All of these messages push us towards fear. And by encouraging us to focus blame on others such as terrorists and "evil" leaders, the global power brokers push us away from feeling in control of our lives and towards the role of powerless victims, so that we look to them for protection. The more we slip into fear and being victims, the easier it is for us to be manipulated.

Secrecy leads to control through preventing the exposure of hidden agendas, and through breeding distrust, suspicion, and paranoia in the world. In the name of "national security," we have been told ever more frequently that we should not know what is happening behind closed doors in government. Yet we are encouraged to keep vigilant watch over our neighbors, over those who question the government, and over those who look or act different from us, as they could secretly be terrorists in sheep's clothing. Rampant suspicion and secrecy cause us to lose touch with the common humanity we share with all around us.

Polarization leads to "us vs. them" ways of thinking. Divide and conquer is a tactic that has been used successfully by the power elite of the world for centuries. As long as people focus on blaming and attacking "the enemy," they are not likely to look for the deeper causes of their problems. Controlling factions of the power elite work to keep public and media attention focused on issues which divide us into two polarized camps, so that their greatest concerns of power and control go unnoticed. The power brokers then control both sides of the divided public by assuring that corporate ownership of the media and key candidates from all political parties support their deeper power and polarization agendas, which often involve war profiteering.

A final subtle, yet powerful method of gaining control is to distract people from their purpose in life. Consider that television, radio, and movies have been filled with ever more greed, violence, and empty sex. Our educational system has increasingly prioritized passing tests over developing intelligence and creativity. Excessive corporate control of the media has limited what news we receive, and often shaped our decisions and the way we think. Our attention has been subtly diverted from our deeper purpose in life to the more superficial attractions of sex, consumerism, and money.

When we succumb to fear, secrecy, and polarization, and when we lose touch with our sense of purpose in life, elements of the global elite are able to exert ever more control over our lives and world.

The New Paradigm

What can we do about all this? Ultimately, it is the collective fear, secrecy, polarization, and loss of purpose within all of us that has allowed leaders to take power who would subvert democracy, and who would take away our freedoms and liberties. By each one of us making a commitment to work on these issues both inside of ourselves and out in the world – and to inspire others to do the same – we are changing our collective direction and building a solid foundation for a new paradigm. Several actions can help us to take firm steps in that direction. Finish article.

Finally, WantToKnow.info answers the question: if you know that you’re not being exposed to the whole and true story, you’re interested in building a personal sense making framework that is open to seeing the world in this new, expanded way, then how do you know if you are really up to it? Can your brain handle this?

Fluid Intelligence
Is Your Brain Optimized For Fluid Intelligence?

Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. ~ Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, in 2005 commencement address at Stanford University

Fluid Intelligence

In exploring personal and global transformation, it is important to talk about the concept of fluid intelligence in relation to the ability to expand our awareness. Fluid intelligence has little to do with IQ or "book" intelligence. It is rather the ability to step outside of our beliefs and consider information which does not fit into our previously accepted view of reality.

Our deepest beliefs and conceptions about life and the world are to some degree conditioned by our childhood experiences, our education, the mass media, and various other external influences. An individual's level of fluid intelligence can be determined based on the degree to which he or she is able to let go of previously held conceptions on encountering reliable information or experiences which show these conceptions to be mistaken or overly simplistic.

At the other end of the spectrum from fluid intelligence is static intelligence. If an individual is rarely willing to reconsider or challenge their established beliefs, they are said to have a high degree of static intelligence. They aren't much interested in thinking outside of the box.

Science and Fluid Intelligence

When scientists on the static intelligence end of the spectrum encounter evidence which seriously questions the established paradigm, they attempt to discredit the new information using laws and principles previously agreed upon under the old paradigm. If they fail at this, the new evidence is then deemed not worthy of study and discarded. At worst, the evidence is actively attacked as being irrational or unscientific, even though it may be easily tested and verified.

Scientists with a high degree of fluid intelligence who are attracted to study matters outside the current paradigm are often labeled kooks or wacky by those operating with static intelligence.

Yet history shows that it is often these "kooky" scientists who go on to make the most astonishing discoveries which pave the way for entire new areas of study which were once considered nonsense. Einstein, Galileo, and Pasteur were all ridiculed by many respected scientists of their day for their amazing discoveries which ushered in entire new branches of knowledge.

All of us are at times resistant to letting go of old beliefs, while at other times we are excited to explore new ways of thinking and being. Static intelligence and fluid intelligence are two ends of a continuum, and each of us shifts to varying points on that continuum over time. To demonstrate this, visit the link below to take a short test on of your perceptual abilities:


Things are not always as they appear. Now watch this impressive eight-minute clip which may expand your beliefs about animal intelligence:


In recent years, many key pioneers have been successful in operating within the modern scientific paradigm with a very high degree of fluid intelligence. These courageous individuals have used accepted scientific principles and careful research to challenge old paradigm beliefs. Below are a few shining examples of this pioneering group: . . . finish article.





THINK LINKS




NEW REALITIES

New State of Matter Detected in a Two-dimensional Material – (Phys Org – April 4, 2016)
An international team of researchers have found evidence of a mysterious new state of matter, first predicted 40 years ago, in a real material. This state, known as a quantum spin liquid, causes electrons - thought to be indivisible building blocks of nature - to break into pieces. The researchers, including physicists from the University of Cambridge, measured the first signatures of these fractional particles, known as Majorana fermions, in a two-dimensional material with a structure similar to graphene. Their experimental results successfully matched with one of the main theoretical models for a quantum spin liquid, known as a Kitaev model. Quantum spin liquids are mysterious states of matter which are thought to be hiding in certain magnetic materials, but had not been conclusively sighted in nature. The observation of one of their most intriguing properties—electron splitting, or fractionalisation—in real materials is a breakthrough. The resulting Majorana fermions may be used as building blocks of quantum computers, which would be far faster than conventional computers and would be able to perform calculations that could not be done otherwise.

GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY

Botox Found Effective for Chronic Migraine – (Health News – April 18, 2016)
An updated guideline from the American Academy of Neurology says that Botox is a safe and effective treatment for chronic migraine and three other neurological disorders. Long used to smooth wrinkles, botulinum toxin is made by a type of bacteria. The toxin blocks the release of substances at nerve endings, reducing muscle contraction and the transmission of pain signals, the researchers explained. The last time the guideline was updated -- in 2008 -- there wasn't enough information to make a recommendation on chronic migraine. This time, the guideline authors found research that showed that botulinum toxin provides a small benefit for people with chronic migraines, defined as having migraines 15 or more days a month.

Mouse Gums Turned into Fully Functioning Skin – (GizMag – April 4, 2016)
While growing biological components in the lab such as a thymus gland, sperm cells, eye tissue and cartilage are becoming more and more commonplace, thus far, creating fully functioning lab-grown skin has eluded scientists. Previous attempts have produced epithelial cells only, which comprise the outer layer of skin. Now, researchers at Japan's RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology have created skin tissue complete with sebaceous glands as well as hair follicles. The researchers took cells from the gums of mice and chemically altered them so that they became induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). These are adult cells that resemble embryonic stem cells. The iPS were then cultured to form something known as an embryoid body which, according to Riken, is "a three-dimensional clump of cells that partially resembles the developing embryo in an actual body." Once the embryoid bodies had formed, the researchers implanted them into mice. Just like with a growing embryo, the cells in these bodies began to differentiate themselves into different types of tissue. At that point, they were removed and implanted into the skin tissue of different mice. There they developed into what's known as integumentary tissue, which is like the "guts" of skin tissue, where hair and oil is produced. The tissue continued to grow, forming hair follicles and sebaceous glands and — most importantly — the tissue knitted itself into its surroundings, making critical connections with nerves and muscles so that it could thrive and function normally. See also: 3-D 'Mini-retinas' Grown from Mouse and Human Stem Cells.

Game Changing Stem Cell Repair System – (Science Daily – April 4, 2016)
Stem cell therapies capable of regenerating any human tissue damaged by injury, disease or ageing could be available within a few years, following landmark research led by University of New South Wales, Australia researchers. The repair system, similar to the method used by salamanders to regenerate limbs, could be used to repair everything from spinal discs to bone fractures, and has the potential to transform current treatment approaches to regenerative medicine. Study lead author, hematologist and UNSW Associate Professor John Pimanda, said the new technique, which reprograms bone and fat cells into induced multipotent stem cells (iMS), has been successfully demonstrated in mice. "This technique is a significant advance on many of the current unproven stem cell therapies, which have shown little or no objective evidence they contribute directly to new tissue formation," Associate Professor Pimanda said. "We are currently assessing whether adult human fat cells reprogrammed into iMS cells can safely repair damaged tissue in mice, with human trials expected to begin in late 2017." "We have taken bone and fat cells, switched off their memory and converted them into stem cells so they can repair different cell types once they are put back inside the body." The technique developed by UNSW researchers involves extracting adult human fat cells and treating them with the compound 5-Azacytidine (AZA), along with platelet-derived growth factor-AB (PDGF-AB) for approximately two days. The cells are then treated with the growth factor alone for a further two-three weeks. AZA is known to induce cell plasticity, which is crucial for reprogramming cells. The AZA compound relaxes the hard-wiring of the cell, which is expanded by the growth factor, transforming the bone and fat cells into iMS cells. When the stem cells are inserted into the damaged tissue site, they multiply, promoting growth and healing.


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Can a Bottle Made From Algae End the World's Plastic Addiction? – (Take Part – April 6, 2016)
It started as a homework assignment for a college class, but the biodegradable, algae-based container 32-year-old product design student Ari Jónsson ended up creating has the potential to shake up the plastic water bottle industry. Jónsson, a student at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, invented an all-natural water bottle that holds its shape when full and decomposes when empty. Only two materials are needed to create the bottle: agar, a gelatinous substance that comes from red algae, and water. “I just followed the path in what I was researching, trying to find new ways to use materials,” said Jónsson. To create the form of the bottle, Jónsson combined the water and the agar, heated the mixture, poured it into a mold, and cooled it down quickly. The H2O binds and thickens the agar when it cools down, so it keeps the shape of the water bottle, explained Jónsson. The real magic happens when the bottle is emptied. “It becomes rotten.... It will go bad like other foods,” said Jónsson. When the bottle is left sitting in open air, it takes about a week for it to shrink down. It can sustainably decompose in soil, but Jónsson has not yet determined how long that process would take. A plastic water bottle, on the other hand, takes more than 1,000 years to biodegrade, and in the U.S. more than 2 million tons of the containers are wasting away in landfills. (Editor’s note: The answer to the question in the title is probably “no”. The bottle’s shelf-life is too short for most merchandizing, but it may well be that its best use hasn’t been discovered yet. This is a product design worth keeping in the back of your mind.)



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

This Electronic Tattoo Turns Your Skin into a Screen – (Washington Post – April 18, 2016)
Putting clock-radio-style numbers on your skin might not seem all that desirable. But these flashing digits are the proof of concept for a new electronic skin. In theory, "e-skins" could be used for everything from monitoring vital signs to making wearable electronics a whole lot more wearable. Lots of researchers are working on "smart skins." The idea is to package electronic sensors into a super-thin, super-flexible material — so thin and flexible that the user could wear it like a temporary tattoo. Recently, one research group even made a functional smart skin out of office supplies, such as Post-it notes and foil, showing that the whisper-thin electronic sensors need not be made from expensive materials. Creating smart skins that include display screens is the ultimate goal: This would allow hospitals to monitor the vital signs of their patients with a simple stick-on patch. And in your day-to-day life, you could have the capabilities of a smartwatch in the palm of your hand — or wherever else you wanted them. What's new about this latest skin is its longevity: Unlike most skins, which can work for only a few hours, the prototype worked for more than a day. This is because the University of Tokyo team created a protective coating to keep air and water vapor out of the skin's delicate inner workings. They also report that the polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs) that create the skin's displays are more efficient than those produced previously. All of this comes in a package just 3 micrometers thick, which is thinner than some spider silks and less than a tenth the width of human hair. It may be a while before smart skins make it into your local hospital — or onto your body. But in a world where we're increasingly attached to our electronic devices, fusing directly to the technology seems kind of inevitable.

As UX Meets IoT, the Need for Screens Will Go Away – (ZD Net – April 23, 2016)
There are two forces at work in today's IT infrastructure, coming from two different directions. On one end, there is the drive toward enhanced user experience (UX), fueled by the need to achieve greater cohesion between applications and the people who use them, or even a greater sense of satisfaction and joy among users. On the other side of the world, there is the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), in which devices, sensors, applications and anything else you can think of are accepting or generating data to provide situational awareness. It may not seem obvious now, but UX and IoT are linked, and these links will grow ever stronger as time goes on - with UX taking on an entirely different meaning. That's the word from George Malim and Frank Palermo, who speculate that as IoT advances, screens will increasingly go away. "Screens belong in the past," they state. "UX design is no longer about designing for a screen, but about designing for the integrated context." Peter Eckert refers to the coming shift of UX to IoT as "the Experience of Things." He notes that "while there's a lot of buzz lately around the Internet of Things, I think that term is incorrect. When we talk about empathy and our connected experiences, we're talking about something much larger than an Internet of Things. It's really the Experience of Things--everything that we use and interact with in our daily lives is starting to build a computing mesh around us." Eckert adds an interesting perspective as well: we're becoming a "node" within "something larger, providing feedback and data which, in turn, form this massive computing mesh around the globe. The world itself now is a larger capturing mechanism."

'Leaked' Burr-Feinstein Encryption Bill Is a Threat to American Privacy – (Mother Board – April 8, 2016)
What appears to be a draft bill from Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) was uploaded by The Hill reporter Cory Bennett. The bill has not been confirmed as authentic, and even if it is authentic, may have changed since the version that was posted online. Regardless, it's worth critiquing the draft that was published, which aspires to kill end-to-end encryption in America—a move that, to lift a phrase from former NSA director Michael Hayden, only North Korean hackers could love. The bill, the “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,” requires that all companies providing any kind communications or data service be able to give information to the government in an “intelligible format.” If the company made the data unintelligible, it must provide “technical assistance” to undo it. In case there is any question about the aim, the bill defines intelligible as “decrypted, deciphered, decoded, demodulated, or deobfuscated to its original form.”


SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

Seeds Planted for London's First Wooden Skyscraper – (Giz Mag – April 11, 2016) Researchers at Cambridge University's Department of Architecture, working alongside PLP Architecture and engineering firm Smith and Wallwork, have presented conceptual plans for a wooden skyscraper to London mayor Boris Johnson. If it went ahead, the timber tower would be the tallest of its kind in the world. While it's too soon to comment as to the project's chances of actually getting built, the tower is slated for London's Barbican Estate and would, along with nearby mid-rise terraces, provide 1,000 much-needed new homes and around 1 million sq ft (304,800 sq m) of residential floorspace for England's capital. More impressively still, the 80-story building would rise to a total height of 300 m (984 ft), making it the second-tallest building in London (after the Shard), and the tallest timber skyscraper in the world. Constructing it would be a real engineering challenge. "We've designed the architecture and engineering and demonstrated it will stand, but this is at a scale no one has attempted to build before," says Dr Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridge's Centre for Natural Material Innovation. As has been previously argued, wooden construction done correctly can actually outperform steel and concrete in a fire. Still, whether building regulators, planners, insurance companies, and the general public will agree on that is another matter.



ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Brillouin Energy Company – (Company website – no date)
Brillouin Energy Corp.,located in Berkeley California, is developing ultra-clean, low-cost, renewable energy technologies capable of producing commercially useful amounts of thermal energy (heat). Brillouin’s technologies are based on low energy nuclear reactions (“LENR”), which it generates on a controlled basis in its uniquely designed reactors. There is no (zero) pollution of any kind, generated in Brillouin’s LENR system of outputting its heat. Brillouin Energy has assembled an experienced team with the scientific, engineering, and business development skills needed to achieve its goal of developing commercial LENR reactors. The company operates under a formal Research Agreement with the highly regarded Energy Research Center laboratory at SRI International in Menlo Park, California, under which the Company and SRI scientists with long experience in the LENR field work together to advance its commercial reactor technologies. Brillouin Energy’s Q-Pulse™ can stimulate a Controlled Electron Capture Reaction (CECR) to create a safe, controllable, and continuous thermal energy source, leading to the potential unattended operation of low and high temperature boiler system devices capable of producing an inexhaustible supply of safe, reliable clean energy. The CECR reaction consumes hydrogen in a solid nickel reactor core producing a large amount of heat and a negligible amount of harmless helium. The amount of hydrogen used in the reactor is very small relative to the final heat output, and for all practical purposes, the supply is inexhaustible.

Alaska Aquarium Replaces Fossil Fuel with Seawater System – (Seattle Times – April 23, 2016)
Thousands of people visit the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward for a look at Steller sea lions or harlequin ducks. What’s in the basement is almost as interesting. At the SeaLife Center, which combines aquariums with research and wildlife rescue, 98% of its heating and cooling requirements are no longer filled by fossil fuel. The center is using alternative energy: heat extracted from ocean water in Resurrection Bay. The heat exchange system is saving money, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and fulfilling the center’s mission of sharing scientific knowledge to promote stewardship of Alaska’s marine resources. It demonstrates that seawater is a potential heating source for Alaska, which has more coastline than the rest of the nation put together. Simple payback is estimated to be 13 years at the estimated annual savings on electricity of $48,000,” said Darryl Schaefermeyer, special projects coordinator. “Since starting the system, we have averaged just over $4,000 savings on electrical energy cost per month.” Resurrection Bay, at more than 900 feet deep, absorbs solar heat over summer months. The water warms through late October, and below the surface, retains enormous amounts of heat throughout winter. Heat exchangers transfer heat from one loop of liquid to another without mixing the liquids.

Reverse Photosynthesis—New Biotech Breakthrough Converts Plants into Biofuel – (Futurism – April 5, 2016)
A team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen have discovered a natural process that can break down plant biomass. The researchers call it ‘reverse photosynthesis’—where photosynthesis builds plant material, the opposite takes place in this process. Solar rays break plant biomass down with the help of a specific enzyme, with the end product possibly being used for chemicals, biofuels and other products. This discovery (given its capacity to speed up production, lower energy consumption, and significantly reduce pollution) could revolutionize industrial production. “We use the term ‘reverse photosynthesis’ because the enzymes use atmospheric oxygen and the Sun’s rays to break down and transform carbon bonds, in plants among other things, instead of building plants and producing oxygen as is typically understood with photosynthesis,” says Postdoc Klaus Benedikt Møllers. According to researchers, this discovery, because of how efficient it is, can produce biofuels or biochemicals for the production common materials such as plastics, which take 24 hours to make, in as little as 10 minutes. The process also has the potential to break down the chemical bonds between carbon and hydrogen, which can create plant-based methane into methanol (following ambient conditions). Still in its early stages, the study will require more research and testing to fully understand its potential and how these will impact our society—but its promise is evident.



TRANSPORTATION

Uber Overtakes Rental Cars among Business Travelers – (Bloomberg – April 21, 2016)
Taxis aren’t the only ones that may be stressing out about Uber Technologies Inc. Transactions from the ride-hailing startup have surpassed rental cars among American professionals, according to Certify, the second-largest provider of travel and expense management software in North America. Uber accounted for 43% of ground transportation transactions expensed through Certify last quarter, while rental cars had 40%. Ride-hailing services, with Uber at the forefront, overtook rental cars for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2015 and have since widened their lead, according to a study by Certify. While an Uber or Lyft Inc. fare costs much less than the average rental car booking, the data show the changing preferences among business travelers. Rental car transactions have fallen 15% in two years. The decline isn't quite as steep as the one experienced by taxis, which fell 23% over the same period. Taxis accounted for 14% of ground transportation transactions in the first quarter of 2016. Some automakers, which have traditionally viewed rental cars as a way to expose their vehicles to prospective customers, are getting into the ride-hailing game. General Motors Co. said in January it would invest $500 million in Lyft, the second-biggest U.S. car-booking company. (Editor’s note: The ease and convenience of using ride-hailing companies suggests that hailing may become greatly preferred over private car ownership when autonomous cars come fully into their own within the next 10 years.)



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Organic Produce from the Former Township – (Future Perfect – February, 2016)
In an affluent neighborhood of Windhoek, two young men from the former township are selling organic produce. John and Immanuel Negongo are revolutionizing Namibian agriculture. Every Saturday at an organic market in Klein Windhoek, (one of the first locations where German colonial troops settled in modern-day Namibia), two young men sit in front of a sign that reads Iyimati, their company name, which means “fruits of our labor”. Fresh lettuce, spinach and beans are laid out in front of them. “People who come here care a lot about organic farming,” says one of them, John Negongo. Johannes “John” Negongo and his brother Immanuel are from Omege, a village in northern Namibia near Oshakati. “We grew up farming,” John explains. When John went to the city to go to college, he could not afford to buy enough food. “So I decided to start a garden at home and watched online classes about gardening.” In 2007, he began volunteering with the aid organization Family of Hope Services (FOHS). Four years later, he was in charge of the FOHS garden, where the initiative grows its own vegetables. They distribute meals to children whose parents cannot provide for them. When the initiative moved in 2014, John and his brother Immanuel started a new garden at the new location. But since they wanted to maintain the old plot as well, the brothers continued to work the original garden to supply the FOHS soup kitchen. At the end of last year, when they realized that they produced more than the soup kitchen needed, they negotiated a deal with the organization that allowed them to sell 40 percent of the harvest from both gardens themselves. This is how they ended up with their own company: Iyimati. (Editor’s note: This is how someone went from not having enough to eat to owning a successful business; the power of free, online information can hardly be overstated.)

What’s for Breakfast? How About Some Monsanto Weed Killer? – (Take Part - April 19, 2016)
In an unsettling report released by the Alliance for Natural Health, the nonprofit advocacy group details the results of a study that shows a host of breakfast foods—from cereal to eggs to coffee creamer—contain residues of glyphosate, the chemical herbicide more commonly known by Monsanto’s trade name for it, Roundup. The report comes one year after the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization made headlines by classifying glyphosate, which has long been regarded by U.S. regulators as posing little risk to public health, as a probable human carcinogen. The ANH tested 24 store-bought breakfast items, including organic products, and found glyphosate residues in almost half of them. Given that glyphosate is the most widely used agrochemical on the market, sprayed on upwards of 90% of staple crops such as corn and soybeans, the findings might seem like a surprise that really comes as no surprise. But what’s alarming is that glyphosate residues were found on a bunch of products that either in and of themselves or based on their primary ingredients aren’t typically associated with heavy use of the herbicide. Conventionally grown wheat, for example, which would be used to make whole-wheat bread, isn’t a crop on which glyphosate is often heavily applied, and you’d certainly expect organic multigrain bagels to be free of the chemical. Yet both were shown to have traces of the herbicide. Furthermore, the analysis found glyphosate in organic dairy-based coffee creamer and eggs—and the amount detected in cage-free organic eggs actually exceeded the federal government’s tolerance levels for the chemical. The ANH freely acknowledges that the amounts of glyphosate found in the products it tested all fall well below the levels the federal government deems acceptable for each specific food, with the exception of those eggs. Yet whether those levels are stringent enough to protect public health is a topic of increasingly intense debate, especially in the wake of glyphosate’s designation as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. And, as the ANH report points out, the standards set by the EPA for glyphosate “have not been rigorously tested for all foods and all age groups”.

Target Tests Food Transparency Ideas at Edina Store – (Star Tribune – April 23, 2016)
Do consumers want to know how long a piece of fruit has been sitting in the store? And would they be willing to buy raspberries that have been sitting around for a week if they paid less for them? Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is testing that idea and a handful of other experiments aimed at providing more transparency about the food it sells at the SuperTarget store in Edina, a Minneapolis suburb. In the produce department, a small research team has put up handwritten signs above strawberries and raspberries, noting which arrived in the store that day and which arrived a week ago. There’s a 50-cent price difference between the two. Farther back in the packaged food aisles, Target is testing a new brand called Good & Gather. Ingredients on that brand’s products — everything from peanut butter to trail mix to cheese balls — are prominently depicted on the front of the package rather than buried in small print on the back. The mini-trials are part of the retailer’s “Food + Future coLAB” in Cambridge, Mass., a collaboration with MIT and design firm Ideo. Target also recently brought on chipmaker Intel Corp. as a partner to add some technological expertise. In recent weeks, Target has also begun using technology called spectroscopy to scan hundreds of thousands of food items in two of its warehouses, one in Lake City, Fla., and the other in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The idea is to develop the “world’s first food fingerprint database” that provides information about how freshness, nutritional value, and other qualities change over time in food. Currently, there’s no scientific baseline to say here’s what an apple at two weeks of (shelf)life should look like.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

New Metal Foam Is Strong Enough to Turn Bullets into Dust – (Science Alert – April 12, 2016)
Researchers have come up with an ultra-tough composite metal foam (CMF) that can reduce a bullet to dust on impact. The material is lighter than metal plating too, making it ideal for the next generation of military armor for soldiers, vehicles, and tomorrow's superheroes. A embedded video above shows a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor-piercing projectile reduced to smithereens as it hits a wall of composite metal foam. It's part of the work of North Carolina State University engineer, Afsaneh Rabiei, who's been working on various iterations of CMFs for several years now. According to her most recent research, the foam can absorb about 60% to 70% of the total kinetic energy of a projectile like the M2, while meeting the depth of penetration and backplate deformation rules set by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). In other words, it meets the required standard for bullet-proof armor. The indentation on the back of the CMF after the bullet strike was less than 8 mm in the latest tests, Rabiei says. To put that into context, a maximum indentation of 44 mm is allowed under NIJ guidelines, so the foam passed with flying colors. It's worth noting that it was helped by a Kevlar backing plate. Her research has proved the effectiveness of CMFs against X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron radiation, while earlier this year, she also demonstrated that the metal foams are twice as good at handling fire and heat as the metals they're made of. That opens up a wide range of possible uses for the super-material. And those uses go way beyond the military: CMF materials could eventually be used for fittings inside nuclear waste facilities, as part of spacecraft designs, or in certain bits of medical equipment. Plus CMFs are non-toxic, which means they're simple to manufacture and recycle.

Guinness Book of Warmongering – (Washington’s Blog - April 19, 2016)
My son left a 2015 Guinness Book of World Records lying around. It’s largely a mix of athletic feats, extravagant spending, freakish body conditions and diseases, and people who do dumb stuff in order to get into the book. It also features two sections focused on mass-murder. One celebrates the technology used to kill people. In that section, the United States is featured almost exclusively. The other section looks more at the wars, killing, and dying. In that section, the United States could not be avoided, but every effort was made. Starting with the celebration of the tools of death, Guinness chooses to include these awards for the United States of America: most sea craft, most aircraft, most total firepower, most expensive super carrier, longest range stealth mini-sub, most expensive drone, most expensive military aircraft program, largest air force, most common fighter aircraft, longest “serving” bomber, largest anti-mine naval exercise, largest aerial assault using poisoned mice, first successful combat submarine, first air-to-air refueling, first pilotless aircraft to cross the Pacific, first drone launched from a submerged submarine, highest number of firearms per person, and first 3-D printed pistol. Now, flip to the pages with wars, and the U.S. role seems to shrink a bit. But a serious look at world records would be a little different. It might look something like the next list in this article.

Beauty Secrets of the Spies: CIA’s Venture Capital Arm Is Funding Skin Care Products That Collect DNA – (Intercept – April 8, 2016)
Skincential Sciences, a company with an innovative line of cosmetic products marketed as a way to erase blemishes and soften skin, has caught the attention of beauty bloggers on YouTube, Oprah’s lifestyle magazine, and celebrity skin care professionals. Documents obtained by The Intercept reveal that the firm has also attracted interest and funding from In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. The previously undisclosed relationship with the CIA might come as some surprise to a visitor to the website of Clearista, the main product line of Skincential Sciences. Though the public-facing side of the company touts a range of skin care products, Skincential Sciences has also developed a patented technology that removes a thin outer layer of the skin, revealing unique biomarkers that can be used for a variety of diagnostic tests, including DNA collection. Skincential Science’s noninvasive procedure, described on the Clearista website as “painless,” is said to require only water, a special detergent, and a few brushes against the skin, making it a convenient option for restoring the glow of a youthful complexion — and a novel technique for gathering information about a person’s biochemistry. “Our company is an outlier for In-Q-Tel,” said Russ Lebovitz, the chief executive of Skincential Sciences. “They’re interested here in something that can get easy access to biomarkers.”



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

U.S. Government Accounting Is Fraudulent – (Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization – April 8, 2016)
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the non-partisan auditor and investigator for Congress. The GAO says that the U.S. government’s records are so poorly kept that it can’t really audit them. Specifically, the GAO provided a report to Congress stating: The federal government was unable to demonstrate the reliability of significant portions of its accrual-based financial statements as of and for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, and 2014, principally resulting from limitations related to certain material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting and other limitations affecting the reliability of these financial statements. For example, about 34% of the federal government’s reported total assets as of September 30, 2015, and approximately 19% of the federal government’s reported net cost for fiscal year 2015, relate to three CFO Act agencies—the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture—that received disclaimers of opinion on their fiscal year 2015 financial statements. As a result, we were prevented from providing an opinion on the accrual-based financial statements. The federal government did not maintain adequate systems or have sufficient appropriate evidence to support certain material information reported in its accrual-based financial statements. The underlying material weaknesses in internal control, which have existed for years, contributed to our disclaimer of opinion on the accrual-based financial statements as of and for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2015, and 2014. (Editor’s note: The GAO report doesn’t use the word “fraud” per se. But the rest of the article goes on to support that conclusion with numerous links to reputable sources.)

The US Is Militarizing the Pacific -- and Not Taking Questions - (Truth Out – April 11, 2016)
The biggest US military re-alignment in a generation may be underway in the Asia-Pacific. Unveiled in 2011, the "Pacific Pivot" aims to transition US military and diplomatic resources away from the Middle East and toward the world's most populous and economically dynamic region. The United States already has enormous resources invested in the region -- including tens of thousands of troops, large aircraft carrier groups, and mutual defense treaties with powerful countries like South Korea and Japan. The pivot aims to bolster that military presence, as well as secure more political cooperation from US allies and boost trade through major pacts like the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP. "The United States is a Pacific Power," President Obama told the Australian parliament in November 2011, "and we are here to stay." In the shadow of a rising China, Obama promised that Washington "will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region." Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has said that "passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier" -- though he's asking for actual armaments too, including "high-end capabilities" like the new long-range stealth bomber and anti-ship cruise missiles. Though overshadowed by unrest in the Middle East, the pivot remains very much underway. Already the US has expanded and established new military exercises and agreements with Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other parts of Southeast Asia -- as well as Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Mongolia, and even China. Article includes numerous links to support its statements and goes on to raise relevant, thoughtful questions concerning the Pacific Pivot – which no senators have been willing to discuss, despite a year’s worth of efforts by a reputable journalist to contact them. (Editor’s note: We recommend this article.)



GLOBAL RELATIONS

8 Ways to Defend against Terror Nonviolently – (Waging Nonviolence – January 22, 2016)
This article is a condensation of the syllabus of a course taught at Swarthmore College focused on the challenge of how to defend against terrorism, nonviolently. In the first place, who knew that non-military techniques have, in actual historical cases, reduced the threat of terror? The article then outlines the eight techniques starting with 1. Ally-building and the infrastructure of economic development. Poverty and terrorism are indirectly linked. Economic development can reduce recruits and gain allies, especially if development is done in a democratic way. The terrorism by Northern Ireland’s Irish Republican Army, for example, was strongly reduced by grassroots, job-creating, economic development.

I'm on the Kill List. This Is What It Feels Like to be Hunted by Drones. – (The Independent – April 12, 2016)
I am in the strange position of knowing that I am on the ‘Kill List’. I know this because I have been told, and I know because I have been targeted for death over and over again. Four times missiles have been fired at me. I am extraordinarily fortunate to be alive. I don’t want to end up a “Bugsplat” – the ugly word that is used for what remains of a human being after being blown up by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone. More importantly, I don’t want my family to become victims, or even to live with the droning engines overhead, knowing that at any moment they could be vaporized. I took to the habit of sleeping under the trees, well above my home, to avoid acting as a magnet of death for my whole family. But one night my youngest son, Hilal (then aged six), followed me out to the mountainside. He said that he, too, feared the droning engines at night. I tried to comfort him. I said that drones wouldn’t target children, but Hilal refused to believe me. He said that missiles had often killed children. It was then that I knew that I could not let them go on living like this.




LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Record Number of Lip Procedures for Americans in 2015 – (Health News – April 18, 2016)
Hoping to look more kissable perhaps, Americans underwent a record number of lip procedures last year. "We live in the age of the selfie, and because we see images of ourselves almost constantly on social media, we're much more aware of how our lips look," said Dr. David Song, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. There were more than 27,400 lip implants performed in 2015 -- a 48% increase since 2000. That averages out to one lip implant every 19 minutes, the society said, noting the procedure became more popular among both men and women.  Lip injections, which include Botox and various soft-tissue fillers, also rose steeply last year, reaching nearly 9.2 million. That's an increase of more than 1,000% since the year 2000, the plastic surgeons said.

What The World Can Learn From Colorado's Marijuana Experience – (Forbes – April 21, 2016)
While it’s too early to draw firm conclusions, a recent report from the Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS) suggests a few tentative observations. The most obvious thing that happens when a government stops punishing people for certain marijuana-related activities—so obvious that it’s often overlooked—is that marijuana arrests and prosecutions drop precipitously. Marijuana arrests in Colorado fell from 12,894 in 2012, when voters approved legalization, to 7,004 in 2014, the first year of legal recreational sales—a 46% decrease. Marijuana charges filed in Colorado courts fell 81% between 2012 and 2015, from 10,340 to 1,954. Those dramatic changes channeled law enforcement resources toward activities with a bigger public safety payoff. Among other observations from the report: legal marijuana does not seem to encourage crime and legalization’s impact on traffic safety is unclear so far.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

ALMA’s Most Detailed Image of a Protoplanetary Disc – (ESO – March 31, 2016)
A new image from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows the finest detail ever seen in the planet-forming disc around the nearby Sun-like star TW Hydrae. It reveals a tantalizing gap at the same distance from the star as the Earth is from the Sun, which may mean that an infant version of our home planet, or possibly a more massive super-Earth, is beginning to form there. The star TW Hydrae is a popular target of study for astronomers because of its proximity to Earth (only about 175 light-years away) and its status as an infant star (about 10 million years old). It also has a face-on orientation as seen from Earth. This gives astronomers a rare, undistorted view of the complete protoplanetary disc around the star. "Previous studies with optical and radio telescopes confirm that TW Hydrae hosts a prominent disc with features that strongly suggest planets are beginning to coalesce," said Sean Andrews with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and lead astronomer of the study. "The new ALMA images show the disc in unprecedented detail, revealing a series of concentric dusty bright rings and dark gaps, including intriguing features that may indicate that a planet with an Earth-like orbit is forming there." Other pronounced gaps that show up in the new images are located three billion and six billion kilometers from the central star, similar to the average distances from the Sun to Uranus and Pluto in the Solar System. They too are likely to be the results of particles that came together to form planets, which then swept their orbits clear of dust and gas and shepherded the remaining material into well-defined bands.

The Solar System May Really Have Nine Planets - (GizMag - January 20, 2016)
There's good news for those who were annoyed when Pluto was knocked off the list of planets. According to a pair of scientists at Caltech, there may actually be nine planets in the Solar System after all. Researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown say that a planet ten times the mass of Earth may be circling the Sun in a highly elliptical orbit 20 times the distance of Neptune or 36 billion miles (60 billion km), with a year of 10,000 to 20,000 Earth years. Caltech says that the still-hypothetical planet has yet to be observed and that its existence is based on mathematical modeling and computer simulations derived from the orbits of six Kuiper Belt objects in the outer Solar System. These objects have very unusual orbits that are tilted 30º to the plane of the ecliptic, where the eight known planets reside, and all point in the same direction. Batygin and Brown say that this could be due to the presence of a previously-unknown planet or a mass of Kuiper Belt objects. However, the latter was dismissed because it would require the belt to be a hundred times more massive that it's believed to be. In addition, the movements of the other planets could not explain the phenomenon because the planetary orbits are too irregular in relation to one another to cause the tilt and alignments.

Astronomers Find Supermassive Black Hole in the Middle of Nowhere – (Forbes – April 7, 2016)
The unexpected behemoth lies deep inside the isolated galaxy NGC 1600, around 200 million light years from the Milky Way. “It’s a bit like finding a skyscraper in a Kansas wheat field, rather than in Manhattan,” said Chung-Pei Ma of the University of California Berkeley, who led the international team of researchers. “We expect to find gigantic black holes in massive galaxies in a crowded region of the universe, where frequent galaxy collisions and cannibalism sustain the black holes’ insatiable appetite and allow them to grow to excess. But to find one in relative isolation indicates that the black hole has long-ago tapped its sources of matter that allowed it to grow,” he added in a statement. Astronomers spotted the huge black hole in the barren galaxy and now think it may be a relic of early galaxy growth. It looks like this black hole’s galaxy may have eaten up all its neighbors years ago, making itself the brightest galaxy in the region.



STATISTICS/DEMOGRAPHICS

The Average 29-Year-Old – (Atlantic – April 20, 2016)
The word Millennial has become shorthand for “a college-educated young person living in a city.” But this usage elides some critical details, for example that most people born between the early 1980s and late 1990s (a) didn’t graduate from college, (b) aren’t living in a city, and (c) generally hate being called “Millennials.” Instead, the average 29-year-old did not graduate from a four-year university, but she did start college; held several jobs, including more than two in the last three years; is not as likely to be married as her parents at this age, but is likely to be living with somebody; is less likely to own a home than 15 years ago, but despite the story of urban renewal, is more likely to live outside of a dense urban area. The median income at 29 is about $35,000. Talk of a steady “career” is more aspirational than descriptive. Here are several more details from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report (and some similar surveys).



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

A Programming Language for Living Cells – (MIT News – March 31, 2016)
MIT biological engineers have created a programming language that allows them to rapidly design complex, DNA-encoded circuits that give new functions to living cells. Using this language, anyone can write a program for the function they want, such as detecting and responding to certain environmental conditions. They can then generate a DNA sequence that will achieve it. “It is literally a programming language for bacteria,” says Christopher Voigt, an MIT professor of biological engineering. “You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer. Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.” Voigt and colleagues at Boston University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have used this language to build circuits that can detect up to three inputs and respond in different ways. Future applications for this kind of programming include designing bacterial cells that can produce a cancer drug when they detect a tumor, or creating yeast cells that can halt their own fermentation process if too many toxic byproducts build up.

New Technology Could Help Batteries Last Longer Than They Ever Have Before – (Huffington Post – April 23, 2016)
Imagine a battery that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times without ever corroding. A team of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, recently has invented just that using a nanowire-based battery material. This doesn’t mean that we’ll soon see such batteries on store shelves. The new research was intended to test nanowires and not a practical battery, explained research co-author Dr. Reginald Penner, chemistry professor at the university. The new battery technology, however, could edge us closer to possibly developing longer lasting commercial batteries for computers, smartphones, cars and spacecraft in the future. “Scientists are interested in nanowires because they allow high power to be obtained, without reducing the total amount of energy that is stored,” Penner said. “But nanowires are fragile,” he added. “Any corrosion or dissolution of the nanowire material leads very quickly to breakage of the nanowire, and a loss of its capacity — which is bad. Our research is important because it demonstrates that a very simple modification to a battery or capacitor may allow nanowire electrode materials to last a lot longer, up to 40 times longer in our studies.”

MIT Researchers Create 3D-printed Robots That Practically Walk out of the Printer – (RT – April 7, 2016)
First-of-their-kind robots made from both liquids and solids in a commercially-available 3D printer can walk on their own, without any manual assembly required, thanks to a new method developed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The robots are 3D-printed in one single step using functional hydraulics. “All you have to do is stick in a battery and motor, and you have a robot that can practically walk right out of the printer,” said Daniela Rus, director at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. “Inkjet printing lets us have eight different print-heads deposit different materials adjacent to one another, all at the same time,” said Robert MacCurdy, an MIT postdoc and co-author of the study. “It gives us very fine control of material placement, which is what allows us to print complex, pre-filled fluidic channels.” It took 22 hours to print the six-legged, caterpillar-like robot using a modified version of a commercially-available printer costing over $100,000. The robot can walk independently, thanks to 12 hydraulic bellows. Article includes video clip of robot.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

These 5 Robotics Startups Are Changing The Way Work Gets Done – (Entrepreneur – April 19, 2016)
This article showcases five robotics startups that demoed their newest products at the recent RoboUniverse expo in New York City. Each in their own way, they are augmenting what humans are capable of and changing how they are getting work done. For example, the Blue Workforce company located in Denmark offers robots that can be used in packing, sorting, manufacturing, and stocking in a range of industrial settings ranging from large scale bakeries, fish sorting companies, meat cutting facilities, logistics facilities, waste handling and more. Article discusses what industry is being disrupted by each robot, gives its country of origin, and lists its starting cost.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

A Conscious Cosmos – (Peter Russell – no date)
Here is a short, animated video clip that starts from the fact we are aware is one thing we know for sure. We couldn't have an experience without being aware. Yet, despite appearances, our experience of the world is only the brain's reconstruction of what is "out there." The current scientific worldview assumes that the brain not only generates the picture of the world that we experience, but it also creates awareness itself. An alternative assumption is that awareness goes all the way down the evolutionary tree. This suggests that the fundamental nature of the cosmos is consciousness and leads to the conclusion that the cosmos is a vast field of information that is also aware—a field of knowing engaged in knowing itself.



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.

Judge: Building Owner Can Charge Rent Based on Gold Prices – (Washington Post – April 23, 2016)
A downtown office building in Columbus, Ohio is worth its weight in gold, according to a federal judge who upheld a nearly century-old lease that tied rent to the current price of the metal. Last month’s ruling means rent paid by the company leasing the Commerce Building from a group of five property owners could jump from $6,000 annually to more than $300,000. At issue is a so-called “gold clause” included in the original 1919 lease. The provision, common at the time, linked rent to the price of gold to account for inflation, similar to today’s consumer price index. In 1919, the value of gold was $20.67 per ounce, compared to more than $1,200 per ounce today. The property owners have been charging a yearly rent of $6,000 since that original lease, which was assumed by Commonwealth Investments in 1990. That contract has resulted in a windfall for the group, since their more than 40 tenants are charged $900,000 annually. Commonwealth Investments, the company paying the $6,000 rent, took control of the downtown building in 1990. It unsuccessfully argued they should receive an entirely new lease agreement, invalidating the gold clause under the 1977 law. In March, federal Judge George Smith sided with the five property owners, but said the new annual lease payment of $348,300 would run only from 2014, when the lawsuit was filed, until 2018, when a new 99-year lease takes effect. However, that new lease contains elements of the old one, including the gold clause, meaning future rents payments would reflect current market rates. The decision is likely to be appealed, however, courts have ruled in favor of other gold clauses elsewhere.



JUST FOR FUN

Hubble Captures Breathtaking Portrait Of Blue Bubble In Space – (Huffington Post – April 21, 2016)
There’s no bursting this bubble. The folks at the Hubble Space Telescope have released magnificent images of a “gigantic cosmic soap bubble” to celebrate Hubble’s 26th anniversary in space. Named the Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7635, this interstellar cloud of gas and dust was first discovered in 1787, but the object is so big that previously it could only be photographed in sections. The new image (photograph in article) is a mosaic of four images taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Earth along with the Hubble Space Telescope. Each year, Hubble releases a new spectacular image to commemorate the anniversary of its launch. The star at the center of the nebula, which gives off a glowing effect, is between ten and twenty times the mass of the Sun. The nebula’s bubble-like form is a result of strong stellar winds pushing gas and dust into a spherical shape. (Editor’s note: this image truly is spectacular.)



A FINAL QUOTE

Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present. - Albert Camus



A special thanks to: A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Diane Petersen, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks. johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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Publication Date:
04/30/2016