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Brian Slesinsky
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Harmless Science Experiment
Harmless Science Experiment

1,668 followers
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From the article: "Since 2010, the urban core has accounted for .8 percent of all population growth and the entire inner ring roughly 10 percent; all other growth has occurred in suburban and exurban areas."

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"Most job growth takes place in the periphery. Even with the higher job density of downtowns, the urban core and its adjacent areas account for less than one-fifth of all jobs, and since 2010 this pattern has persisted."
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From the article: "The plane will be one of the airline's brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and the demonstration flight will be the first ever to make the trip between Australia and the United States fuelled, in a meaningful way, by biofuel.

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"The flight will run on a mix of standard jet fuel and 30 per cent biofuel derived from a type of mustard seed. The airline claims it will cut carbon emission by 20 per cent compared to a flight using only petroleum-derived fuel. 

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"Qantas International chief executive Alison Webster said the long-term goal was to grow 400,000 hectares of the seed using contracts with Australian farmers.

"That sized crop should produce over 200 million litres of bio-jetfuel every year. The airline used 4.8 billion litres of conventional jet fuel last year."


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From the article: "From the beginning of this epidemic, the WHO and health officials in Madagascar identified more than 7,000 potential plague cases — the friends, families, and contacts of people who were suspected of having the disease — and, incredibly, helped 95 percent of them follow a seven-day course of preventative antibiotics. 'Only nine contacts developed symptoms and became suspected cases,' the WHO reported."
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Asimov's Laws Get Real

Back in 1942 Isaac Asimov first introduced his famous 'Three Laws of Robotics' in a short story titled Runaround. Those fictional laws declared...

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

It amazes me that after 75 years of celebrating this code of technology ethics, the moment real life autonomous weapons become possible many sci-fi fans and tech expects seem ready to proclaim that killer robots are either inevitable, a good idea, or both. No matter your political leanings, I would urge you to consider Asimov's wisdom once more. This is especially true right now.

This week the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons begins discussions on an international treaty to ban autonomous robotic weapons. It's time to take action -- before such weapons spread.

Does a ban eliminate the threat of autonomous weapons? No. Does a ban prevent criminal organizations and despots from using them? No.

However, we need to make certain that democratic societies do not support the development of these systems. Even if autonomous robotic weapons work exactly as their designers intend, they will not protect democracy -- they will undermine it by concentrating power into fewer, unaccountable hands.

What a global ban on autonomous weapons does is set a shining bright line between what is and is not acceptable among free and civilized nations. This signals to people living today and also to future generations that resorting to such weapons is harmful to all.

Past global bans on biological, chemical, and laser-blinding weapons have largely worked -- turning nations that use them into pariah states, subject to sanction and exclusion from the community of nations.

Banning production of autonomous robotic weapons will make them harder to finance, produce, ship, and sell.

Meanwhile, encouraging the development of socially responsible robotics could be an extraordinary boon to all humanity, as well as being a profitable sector for investment. (Check out: https://responsiblerobotics.org/ )

We should consider the issue of lethal autonomy now -- before a horrendous incident with rogue robotic weapons compels us to a knee-jerk response without thinking through the consequences.

I urge you this week to learn more about the international effort to ban autonomous robotic weapons: http://autonomousweapons.org/ or go to #StopKillerRobots at: https://www.stopkillerrobots.org/.

And before you dismiss the idea of a ban on these weapons as unrealistic, remember that retaining human agency in the face of technological progress is the most solemn responsibility we have. Countless future generations are depending on us to make the right choice at this key juncture in human history. If nothing else, ask yourself: what would Isaac Asimov do?
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Insomnia genes found
An international team of researchers has found, for the first time, seven risk genes for insomnia. With this finding the researchers have taken an important step towards the unraveling of the biological mechanisms that cause insomnia.
In addition, the finding proves that insomnia is not, as is often claimed, a purely psychological condition. Nature Genetics published the results of this research.

Insomnia is probably the most common health complaint. Even after treatment, poor sleep remains a persistent vulnerability for many people. By having determined the risk genes, professors Danielle Posthuma (VU and VUmc) and Eus Van Someren (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, VU and VUmc), the lead researchers of this international project, have come closer to unraveling the biological mechanisms that cause the predisposition for insomnia.

In a sample of 113,006 individuals, the researchers found 7 genes for insomnia. These genes play a role in the regulation of transcription, the process where DNA is read in order to make an RNA copy of it, and exocytosis, the release of molecules by cells in order to communicate with their environment. One of the identified genes, MEIS1, has previously been related to two other sleep disorders: Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS) and Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

By collaborating with Konrad Oexle and colleagues from the Institute of Neurogenomics at the Helmholtz Zentrum, München, Germany, the researchers could conclude that the genetic variants in the gene seem to contribute to all three disorders. Strikingly, PLMS and RLS are characterized by restless movement and sensation, respectively, whereas insomnia is characterized mainly by a restless stream of consciousness.

Professor Van Someren, specialized in sleep and insomnia, believes that the findings are the start of a path towards an understanding of insomnia at the level of communication within and between neurons, and thus towards finding new ways of treatment.

Source & further reading:
https://www.vu.nl/en/news-agenda/news/2017/apr-jun/insomnia-genes-found.aspx

Journal article:
https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3888

#neuroscience #insomnia #sleepdisorders #research
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From a 2011 article: ""Bright identifying colours psychologically deter a thief, whilst practically making it so much more difficult for them to process stolen components – they'd have to be re-sprayed first. Why steal a pink one when thousands of yellow machines already exist and provide a readily available second-hand market?"
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