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Oliver Morton
Works at The Economist Group
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Oliver Morton

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To fight monsters we created madrigals (many thanks to Sean Geer)
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Oliver Morton

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By the brilliant Georgia Grimmond
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Oliver Morton

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Kevin Kelly originally shared:
 
A few words of insight:


People who think the Web is killing off serendipity are not using it correctly. -- Steven Johnson, Anatomy of an Idea, December 14, 2011

If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people… Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. -- Jeff Bezos, Wired, Jeff Bezos Owns the Web, December, 2011

Why aren't all movies available through all [online] channels? The movie companies these days must have some irrational fear of giving the customers what they want. -- David Pogue, State of the Art, New York Times, December 29, 2011.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature. -- Karl Schroeder, The Deepening Paradox, November, 2011

There's something direly mean spirited and ungenerous about inventing a language and then renting it out to other people to speak. - Bruce Sterling, A Statement of Principle, 1994,

If we put a number on it, people will try to make the number go up. -- Seth Godin, Seth Godin's Blog, December 11, 2011

Getting a job is really dumb because then you'll only get paid when you’re working. -- Steve Pavlina, Personal Development for Smart People, July 21, 2006.

Anything you say before "but" in a political statement doesn't count. - Rick Falkvinge. TechDirt, January 5, 2012

If every trace of any single religion died out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again. -- Penn Jillette, God No, p. 129,

It's true: never let the guy with the broom decide how many elephants can be in the parade. -- Merlin Mann, Twitter, April 20, 2010

Computers -- the gizmos themselves -- have far less to do with techie enthusiasm than some half-understood resonance to The Great Work: hardwiring collective consciousness, creating the Planetary Mind. Teilhard do Chardin wrote about this enterprise many years ago and would be appalled by the prosaic nature of the tools we will use to bring it about. But I think there is something sweetly ironic that the ladder to his Omega Point might be built by engineers and not mystics." -- John Perry Barlow, in email cited in Out of Control, 1994

For the source links go here:
http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2012/01/sourced_quotes_1.php
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Oliver Morton

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Geoff Brumfiel originally shared:
 
So what do you think? They gonna find this thing or what?
http://www.nature.com/news/higgs-hunt-enters-endgame-1.9399
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Oliver Morton

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This came second at the iGEM jamboree, and strikes me as pretty remarkable: synthetic biology meets geoengineering, in a way. Note the amount of consultation, outreach and other human dimension stuff done up front as part of the project. Also the quick turnaround exploitation of a biotic interaction (plants eating bacteria) only reported last year.
That said, I'm not entirely convinced of the logic of the scheme as a whole: if it works, you'd be tricking the plants into over committing to root development compared to their native development, and it's not clear that that wouldn't impact survival. But that's why we have experiments!
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I wonder about that. When you inoculate seed with bacteria (such as rhizobia) or fungi (such as an endo or ecto mycorrhizal fungus) they are in the soil and can help other seeds too.

The issue that prompts these ideas is the selective herbicidal effect of some auxins, The ones that I'm familiar with harm broadleafs (often "weeds") but are gentler on narrow leaf plants such as grasses. Unfortunately swards often depend on broadleafs such as clovers for nitrogen fixation. With an auxin herbicide like 2,4-D you only need to control the spray area, but with a bacteria there may be some issue with spreading and by-blows.
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Oliver Morton

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The Nature editorial and subsequent debate here seem to me a discussion worth having. My impression is that it is utterly worthwhile to try and work out what happened in an extreme event, and that may well involve seeing how much of an AGW signal there is. But I'm not sure AGW attribution as an aim in and of itself is much of a goal. 
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Until you can put some real definition on "extreme" I'm not sure that this is going anywhere. First, what extreme events do you pay attention to? Strictly, in a quantum universe, there is an extreme case in which all of the atoms in the floor underneath me could jump momentarily to the left, and I'd find myself typing while embedded to the waist. But I'm not losing sleep.

In any case, I'd also kind of worry that the scenario you describe of retro-fitting signal to theoretical explanations of extreme events is a bit like trying to turn every psycho-killer into a morality play. It may reinforce what you already believe, but it's unlikely to have much to do with reality. 
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So is this where we come to complain about Twitter being down :-) #whatsgoogleplusfor
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Who says feminists can only be women? This article by Gaby Hinsliff seems predicated on the assumption that the only tories who could conceivably be feminists are women. This may alas be true (even with a generally low opinion of tory men I suspect it is not, but I suppose it may be). But surely it should not be accepted without comment or critique, especially in an article that makes much play of Teresa May wearing a Fawcett Society "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirt the whole point of which, as I understand it, is that they are worn by men as well as women (see images here http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=394)
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To whom does one say "Hey, twitter's down" when twitter's down?
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I think you just answered your own question.
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Have him in circles
529 people
Leo Enright's profile photo
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  • The Economist Group
    Energy and Environment Editor, present
  • Nature Publishing Group
    Chief News and Features Editor, Nature, 2005 - 2009
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Writer and editor, often on subjects concerned with scientific and technological changes and their effects
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