double helix

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pages: 134 words: 43,617

Double Helix by James D. Watson, Gunther S. Stent


cosmological principle, double helix

Illustrations PHOTOGRAPHS Crick and Watson, along the backs Francis in the Cavendish Maurice Wilkins World Wide Photos The microbial genetics meeting, Copenhagen, March Linus Pauling Information Office, California Institute of Technology Sir Lawrence Bragg Rosalind Franklin X-ray diffraction photograph of DNA, A form Elizabeth Watson In Paris, spring 1952 The meeting at Royaumont, July 1952 In the Italim Alps, August 1952 Early ideas on the DNA-RNA-protein relation X-ray diffraction photograph of DNA, B form Original model of the double helix Watson and Crick in front of the model Photograph A. C. Barrington Brown Morning coffee in the Cavendish photograph A. C. Barrington Brown Letter to Max Delbrück In Stockholm, December 1962 Svenskt Pressfoto, Stockholm DIAGRAMS Short section of DNA, 1951 Chemical structures of the DNA bases, 1951 Covalent bonds of the sugar-phosphate backbone Schematic view of a nucleotide Mg++ ions binding phosphate groups Schematic view of DNA, like-with-like base pairs Base pairs for the like-with-like structure Tautomeric forms of guanine and thymine Base pairs for the double helix Schematic illustration of the double helix DNA replication THE DOUBLE HELIX IN THE summer of 1955, I arranged to join some friends who were going into the Alps.

Nonetheless, I feel the story should be told, partly because many of my scientific friends have expressed curiosity about how the double helix was found, and to them an incomplete version is better than none. But even more important, I believe, there remains general ignorance about how science is “done.” That is not to say that all science is done in the manner described here. This is far from the case, for styles of scientific research vary almost as much as human personalities. On the other hand, I do not believe that the way DNA came out constitutes an odd exception to a scientific world complicated by the contradictory pulls of ambition and the sense of fair play. The thought that I should write this book has been with me almost from the moment the double helix was found. Thus my memory of many of the significant events is much more complete than that of most other episodes in my life.

Building on the work of competitors they were determined to beat, Crick and Watson had correctly deduced the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. That structure, they reported in a short article in Nature just weeks later, was the beguilingly beautiful “double helix.” Noting that the helix could “unzip” and copy itself, Crick and Watson confirmed what had hitherto only been suspected: that DNA was the substance that embodied the genetic code. Their brilliant insight—which heralded a new age in biology and medicine—proved to be the scientific coup of the second half of the century. Watson tells how they pulled it off in this now-classic memoir. First published in 1968 and in print for more than three decades, The Double Helix remains unique in the annals of science writing. The discovery it describes was of a magnitude comparable, in terms of scientific and social significance, to the breakthroughs that led to the splitting of the atom and the invention of the computer.

pages: 285 words: 78,180

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life by J. Craig Venter


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Asilomar, Barry Marshall: ulcers, bioinformatics, borderless world, Brownian motion, clean water, discovery of DNA, double helix, epigenetics, experimental subject, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing machine

In 1944 came the first clear evidence that DNA was in fact the information-carrier, not protein. Schrödinger’s book motivated the American James Watson and Briton Francis Crick to seek that code-script, which ultimately led them to DNA and to discover the most beautiful structure in all biology, the double helix, within whose turns lay the secrets of all inheritance. Each strand of the double helix is complementary to the other, and they therefore run in opposite (anti-parallel) directions. As a result the double helix can unzip down the middle, and each side can serve as a pattern or template for the other, so that the DNA’s information can be copied and passed to progeny. On August 12, 1953, Crick sent Schrödinger a letter indicating as much, adding that “your term ‘aperiodic crystal’ is going to be a very apt one.”

Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Venter, J. Craig. Life at the speed of light : from the double helix to the dawn of digital life / J. Craig Venter. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-101-63802-6 1. Science—Social aspects. 2. Biology—Philosophy. 3. Artificial life. 4. Genomics. I. Title. Q175.5.V44 2013 303.48'3—dc23 2013017049 To the team that contributed to making the first synthetic cell a reality: Mikkel A. Algire, Nina Alperovich, Cynthia Andrews-Pfannkoch, Nacyra Assad-Garcia, Kevin C.

Schrödinger went on to state that the “code-script” could be as simple as a binary code: “Indeed, the number of atoms in such a structure need not be very large to produce an almost unlimited number of possible arrangements. For illustration, think of the Morse code. The two different signs of dot and dash in well-ordered groups of not more than four allow of thirty different specifications.”23 Even though von Neumann conceived his self-replicating automaton some years before the actual hereditary code in the DNA double helix was discovered, he did lay stress on its ability to evolve. He told the audience at his Hixon lecture that each instruction that the machine carried out was “roughly effecting the functions of a gene” and went on to describe how errors in the automaton “can exhibit certain typical traits which appear in connection with mutation, lethally as a rule, but with a possibility of continuing reproduction with a modification of traits.”

pages: 476 words: 120,892

Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe McFadden, Jim Al-Khalili


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, complexity theory, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Ernest Rutherford, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, New Journalism, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, theory of mind, traveling salesman, uranium enrichment, Zeno's paradox

This is precisely what happens when genes are copied during cell division. The two strands of the double helix with their complementary information are pulled apart to allow an enzyme called DNA polymerase access to each separated strand. The enzyme then attaches to a single strand and slides along the chain of nucleotides, reading each genetic letter and, with almost unerring accuracy, inserting a complementary base into the growing strand: whenever it sees an A it inserts a T, whenever it sees a G it inserts a C, and so on until it has made a complete complementary copy. The same process is repeated on the other strand, giving rise to two copies of the original double helix: one for each daughter cell. Figure 7.1: The structure of DNA: (a) shows Watson and Crick’s double helix; (b) shows a close-up of the paired genetic letters A and T; (c) shows a close-up of the paired genetic letters G and C.

Conventional chemistry, driven by those Boltzmann ball-like molecules, just didn’t seem capable of providing the means to store, copy and accurately transmit genetic information. The answer was famously provided in 1953 when James Watson and Francis Crick, working in the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, managed to fit a remarkable structure to the experimental data obtained from DNA by their colleague Rosalind Franklin: the double helix. Each DNA strand was found to be a kind of molecular string made up of atoms of phosphorus, oxygen and a sugar called deoxyribose, with chemical structures called nucleotides*6 strung out like beads on that string. These nucleotide beads come in four varieties: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T), so their arrangement along the DNA strand provides a one-dimensional sequence of genetic letters such as “GTCCATTGCCCGTATTACCG.”

And, as we will discover in chapter 7, identification of the double helical DNA strand also solved the problem of how genetic information is copied. At a stroke, two of the greatest mysteries of science had been solved. The discovery of the structure of DNA provided a mechanistic key that unlocked the mystery of genes. Genes are chemicals and chemistry is just thermodynamics; so did the discovery of the double helix finally bring life entirely into the realm of classical science? Life’s curious grin In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Cheshire cat has a habit of disappearing, leaving only his grin, prompting Alice to remark that she has “often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.” Many biologists experience similar bemusement when, despite knowing how thermodynamics operates in living cells and how genes encode everything that is required to form the cell, the mystery of what life really is continues to grin back at them.

pages: 220 words: 66,518

The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton


Albert Einstein, Benoit Mandelbrot, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Mars Rover, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell

As I conjured up a biocomputer, I realized that the nucleus is simply a memory disk, a hard drive containing the DNA programs that encode the production of proteins. Let’s call it the Double Helix Memory Disk. In your home computer you can insert such a memory disk containing a large number of specialized programs like word processing, graphics, and spreadsheets. After you download those programs into active memory, you can remove the disk from the computer without interfering with the program that is running. When you remove the Double Helix Memory Disk by removing the nucleus, the work of the cellular protein machine goes on because the information that created the protein machine has already been downloaded. Enucleated cells get into trouble only when they need the gene programs in the ejected Double Helix Memory Disk to replace old proteins or make different proteins. I had been trained as a nucleus-centered biologist as surely as Copernicus had been trained as an Earth-centered astronomer, so it was with a jolt that I realized that the gene-containing nucleus does not program the cell.

The code for recreating the protein machinery of the cell had been cracked! Watson and Crick also explained why DNA is the perfect hereditary molecule. Each DNA strand is normally intertwined with a second strand of DNA, a loosely wrapped configuration known as the “double helix.” The genius of this system is that the sequences of DNA bases on both strands are mirror images of each other. When the two strands of DNA unwind, each single strand contains the information to make an exact, complementary copy of itself. So through a process of separating the strands of a double helix, DNA molecules become self-replicating. This observation led to the assumption that DNA “controlled” its own replication … it was its own “boss.” The “suggestion” that DNA controlled its own replication and served as the blueprint for the body’s proteins led Francis Crick to create biology’s Central Dogma, the belief that DNA rules.

He suggested that “hereditary factors” passed from parent to child control the characteristics of an individual’s life. That bit of insight set scientists off on a frenzied attempt to dissect life down to its molecular nuts and bolts, for within the structure of the cell was to be found the heredity mechanism that controlled life. The search came to a remarkable end fifty years ago when James Watson and Francis Crick described the structure and function of the DNA double helix, the material of which genes are made. Scientists finally figured out the nature of the “hereditary factors” that Darwin had written about in the 19th century. The tabloids heralded the brave new world of genetic engineering with its promise of designer babies and magic bullet medical treatments. I vividly remember the large block print headlines that filled the front page on that memorable day in 1953: “Secret of Life Discovered.”

pages: 357 words: 98,854

Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance by Nessa Carey


Albert Einstein, British Empire, Build a better mousetrap, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, life extension, mouse model, phenotype, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell, stochastic process, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

The fabric strips that the teeth are stitched on to on a zip are the DNA backbones. There are always two backbones facing each other, like the two sides of the zip, and DNA is therefore referred to as double-stranded. The two sides of the zip are basically twisted around to form a spiral structure – the famous double helix. Figure 3.1 is a stylised representation of what the DNA double helix looks like. Figure 3.1 A schematic representation of DNA. The two backbones are twisted around each other to form a double helix. The helix is held together by chemical bonds between the bases in the centre of the molecule. The analogy will only get us so far, however, and that’s because the teeth of the DNA zip aren’t all equivalent. If one of the teeth is an A base, it can only link up with a T base on the opposite strand.

Because C has to pair up with G, and A has to pair up with T, the cells can use the existing DNA as a template to make the new strands. Each daughter cell ends up with a new perfect copy of the DNA, in which one of the strands came from the original DNA molecule and the other was newly synthesised. Figure 3.2 The first stage in replication of DNA is the separation of the two strands of the double helix. The bases on each separated backbone act as the template for the creation of a new strand. This ensures that the two new double-stranded DNA molecules have exactly the same base sequence as the parent molecule. Each new double helix of DNA has one backbone that was originally part of the parent molecule (in black) and one freshly synthesised backbone (in white). Even in nature, in a system which has evolved over billions of years, nothing is perfect and occasionally the replication machinery makes a mistake.

But what about the other situation, the example of skin stem cells dividing very frequently but always just creating new skin cells, rather than some other cell type such as bone? In this situation, the pattern of DNA methylation is passed from mother cell to daughter cells. When the two strands of the DNA double helix separate, each gets copied using the base-pairing principle, as we saw in Chapter 3. Figure 4.2 illustrates what happens when this replication occurs in a region where the CpG is methylated on the C. Figure 4.2 This schematic shows how DNA methylation patterns can be preserved when DNA is replicated. The methyl group is represented by the black circle. Following separation of the parent DNA double helix in step 1, and replication of the DNA strands in step 2, the new strands are ‘checked’ by the DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) enzyme. DNMT1 can recognise that a methyl group at a cytosine motif on one strand of a DNA molecule is not matched on the newly synthesised strand.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, British Empire, colonial rule, dark matter, delayed gratification, demographic transition, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, phenotype, sceptred isle, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus

Since 1953, we’ve known that the double helix is how DNA is built, giving it the impressive ability to copy itself and allow those copies to build cells just like the ones they came from. And since the 1960s we’ve known how DNA encodes proteins, and that all life is built of, or by, proteins. Those titans of science, Gregor Mendel, Francis Crick, James Watson, Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, stood on their predecessors’ and colleagues’ shoulders, and would in turn be the giants from whose shoulders all biologists would see into the future. The unravelling of these mysteries were the great science stories of the twentieth century, and by the beginning of the twenty-first the principles of biology were set in place. In cracking the universal genetic code, and unwinding the double helix, we had unveiled a set of simple rules of life.

With his proposed theory of descent with modification in the distant future, light will be shed on our own story: to be continued. That time has come. There is now another way to read our pasts, and floodlights are being shone on our origins. You carry an epic poem in your cells. It’s an incomparable, sprawling, unique, meandering saga. About a decade ago, fifty years after the discovery of the double helix, our ability to read DNA had improved to the degree that it was transformed into a historical source, a text to pore over. Our genomes, genes and DNA house a record of the journey that life on Earth has taken – 4 billion years of error and trial that resulted in you. Your genome is the totality of your DNA, 3 billion letters of it, and due to the way it comes together – by the mysterious (from a biological point of view) business of sex – it is unique to you.

The ability to read DNA was pioneered by the unassuming English genius Fred Sanger in the late 1970s, using a process that copied the original sequence millions of times. To do that, your ingredients need to include the alphabet you’re writing in; DNA only consists of four letters, more formally called nucleotide bases – A, T, C and G. You also need an enzyme whose job it is simply to copy and link up the bases of DNA, called a polymerase. Throw all these ingredients into a tube and set the temperature right, and the double helix will separate into single strands, which serve as templates to replace the letters that would form the missing strand. You end up with millions of copies of the original template. Each one of the letters of DNA physically links to the one that precedes it and the one that follows, whereas English full stops halt any sentence. The polymerase molecule trundles along adding the next letter one at a time like a typewriter copying a line of text.

pages: 260 words: 84,847

P53: The Gene That Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong


Asilomar, discovery of DNA, discovery of penicillin, double helix, mouse model, stem cell, trade route

Then an enzyme ‘glue’ called DNA ligase seals the fragments of copied DNA into a continuous double-sided strand that rewinds itself automatically. In the replicated DNA, one strand of the double helix will be from the original (known as the parent strand) and the other will be the new copy (known as the daughter strand). The cell is now ready to divide into two cells with equal shares of identical genetic material. This process, going on ceaselessly in billions of cells in our bodies as we repair and replace tissue and our hair and nails grow, is so efficient that mutations – mistakes that escape the proofreader – occur at the rate of about one in 109 nucleotides per replication. It’s interesting to note that this knowledge, this understanding of how the machinery of life works, is built on the foundations of Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA. The double helix – the spiral staircase drawn originally for their paper in Nature by Crick’s wife Odile – remains one of the iconic images of 20th-century science.

And for nearly a decade, only a tiny proportion of scientists writing about DNA in professional journals mentioned the double helix. It was a beautifully elegant model, but many biochemists, intensely preoccupied with working out how we synthesise the proteins in our cells, were sceptical that genes – still rather an abstract notion in the early 1950s – had anything to do with it. CHAPTER FIVE Cloning the Gene In which we hear about the huge technical challenge and the hot competition to clone p53 as the first step to discovering how the gene and its protein work. *** We stand on the wrong side of the tapestry – a confusion of colours, knots and loose ends. But, be assured, on the other side there is a pattern. Anon The cool reception and slow build-up of recognition for the double helix – culminating in the Nobel Prize for James Watson, Francis Crick and the biophysicist Maurice Wilkins in 1962 – are instructive.

However, no microscope currently available to most labs can show DNA in enough detail for scientists to be able to determine the order of the ‘bases’ making up the molecule. Thus the genes which are carried on the chromosomes – not as discrete chunks of DNA but as segments along the continuous stand of genetic material – remain unseeable, and it is these scraps of information that carry the recipes for the proteins that the scientists are after. The famous corkscrew structure of DNA – the double helix discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 – is made up of components called nucleotides, which stack one on top of the other like nano-sized blocks of Lego to form long chains. Each nucleotide, or block, has three components: a sugar molecule called a deoxyribose (the D in DNA), a phosphate group and a nitrogen ‘base’. These bases come in four different types: adenine (represented by A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C).

pages: 287 words: 87,204

Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, British Empire, Brownian motion, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, trade route, upwardly mobile

The cat in the box From Oxford with love Chapter Ten: There, and Back Again Whistling in the dark Reality bites The unhappy return Belgian interlude Chapter Eleven: “The Happiest Years of My Life” “Dev” Settling in Early days at the DIAS “Family” life in Dublin The post-war years Many worlds Chapter Twelve: What Is Life? Life itself Quantum chemistry The green pamphlet Schrödinger’s variation on the theme The double helix Chapter Thirteen: Back to Vienna Farewell to Dublin Home is the hero Declining years The triumph of entropy Chapter Fourteen: Schrödinger’s Scientific Legacy Hidden reality and a mathematician’s mistake The Bell test and the Aspect experiment Quantum cryptography and the “no cloning” theorem Quantum teleportation and classical information The quantum computer and the Multiverse Quantum physics and reality Postscript Sources and Further Reading Index Copyright © 2013 by Mary and John Gribbin.

He was a disciple of Arthur Schopenhauer, with a profound interest in philosophy and Eastern religion, particularly espousing the Hindu Vedanta and subscribing to the idea of a single cosmic consciousness of which we are all part. He studied colour vision, and wrote a book, What Is Life?, which Francis Crick and James Watson each independently cited as a major influence on the work which led them to the discovery of the DNA double helix. Schrödinger also addressed questions such as “What is a law of nature?” and whether or not the world is in principle completely deterministic and predictable. He wrote poetry (badly) and a book about the science and philosophy of ancient Greece. Schrödinger’s private life was no less interesting. Brought up in comfort in the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he served as an artillery officer in the First World War and suffered the consequences of the post-war blockade of Austria (a long-forgotten Allied atrocity which caused mass starvation) and the runaway inflation of the early 1920s.

The most important feature of DNA is that strung out along the length of the molecule there is a series of chemical subunits called bases, which are denoted by the letters A, C, T, and G. Strings of these four bases can convey information in what is usually called a code, but which I prefer to think of as a language, in the same way that the twenty-six letters of the alphabet are used in long strings to convey information in this book. But DNA molecules do not usually exist in isolation. They come in pairs, with one long molecule twined around its partner in the famous double helix arrangement. The two molecules in each helix are not identical, but are like mirror images of one another; everywhere one molecule has an A, its partner has a T; everywhere one molecule has a C, its partner has a G; everywhere one molecule has a G, its partner has a C; everywhere one molecule has a T, its partner has an A. So under the right circumstances (which occur when a living cell divides) the two halves of the helix can unwind, and each single strand can build itself a new partner from the chemical material surrounding it inside the cell, by making appropriate links between bases.

pages: 400 words: 94,847

Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science by Michael Nielsen


Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart,, Erik Brynjolfsson, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, medical residency, Nicholas Carr, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, social web, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, University of East Anglia, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge

As you know, inside each of the cells in your body are many strands of the DNA molecule. Those strands of DNA carry information, and the information they carry is the design for you. To understand how DNA carries this information, recall the double helix structure of DNA. The helices are beautiful and memorable, but the information isn’t stored in the helices, per se. Rather, it is stored in between the helices. Every few nanometers as you move up the double helix there is a pair of molecules joining the two sides of the helix, called a base pair. It’s a pair of special little mini-molecules that bond to one another, and to the backbones of the double helix. There are four types of base molecule, called adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. Their names are usually just shortened to A, C, G, and T. The A bonds to the T and the C to the G, so the possible pairs are A-T and C-G.

To their astonishment, they quickly realized that Pauling was wrong: the world’s greatest chemist had made a simple mistake in basic chemistry, a mistake his own textbooks should have alerted him to. Watson and Crick went back to their work with renewed intensity, and soon after found the right structure. When that happened it didn’t matter that Pauling was world famous while Watson, Crick, and Franklin were unknowns. The scientific community rejected Pauling’s work, and hailed the double helix as one of the scientific discoveries of the century. The examples of Einstein and of Watson, Crick, and Franklin illustrate the strength of the shared praxis in science. To an extent unusual in many parts of life, in science it’s often the person with the best evidence and best arguments who wins out, and not the person with the biggest reputation and the most power. Pauling may have been widely acknowledged as the world’s leading chemist, but other chemists could see just as surely as Watson and Crick that Pauling’s structure was simply wrong.

p 79: Regarding the rapid acceptance of Einstein’s ideas, it helped that leading scientists such as Lorentz and Poincaré arrived at similar conclusions at about the same time. But although Einstein’s formulation of relativity was even more radical than the formulations of Lorentz and Poincaré, it quickly became accepted as the correct way to think about relativity. p 79: On the discovery of DNA, and Pauling’s error, see Watson’s memoir, The Double Helix [234]. p 80 “If Feynman says it three times, it’s right”: [72]. p 84: My thanks to Mark Tovey for help constructing this example on optical illusions and cognitive science. p 85: On collaboration markets, see also [246] and [146]. p 85: The discussion of topological quantum computes is inspired by [22]. Topological quantum computers were originally proposed in a remarkable article by Kitaev [111].

pages: 369 words: 153,018

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane


Benoit Mandelbrot, clockwork universe, double helix, Drosophila, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, out of africa, phenotype, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, stem cell, unbiased observer

The histones not only protect eukaryotic DNA from chemical attack, but also guard access to the genes. When he discovered the structure of DNA, Francis Crick immediately understood how genetic inheritance works, announcing in the pub that evening that he understood the secret of life. DNA is a template, both for itself and for proteins. The two entwined strands of the double helix each act as a template for the other, so that when they are prized apart, during cell division, each strand provides the information necessary for reconstituting the full double helix, giving two identical copies. The information encoded in DNA spells out the molecular structure of proteins. This, said Crick, is the ‘central dogma’ of all biology: genes code for proteins. The long ticker tape of DNA is a seemingly endless sequence of just four molecular ‘letters’, just as all our words, all our books, are a sequence of only 26 letters.

Despite its obvious importance to life, biological energy receives far less attention than it deserves. According to molecular biologists, life is all about information. Information is encoded in the genes, which spell out the instructions for building proteins, cells, and bodies. The double helix of DNA, the stuff of genes, is an icon of our information age, and the discoverers of its structure, Watson and Crick, are household names. The reasons for this status are a mixture of the personal, the practical, and the symbolic. Crick and Watson were brilliant and flamboyant, and unveiled the structure of DNA with the aplomb of conjurors. Watson’s famous book narrating the discovery, The Double Helix, defined a generation and changed the way that science is perceived by the general public; and he has been an outspoken and passionate advocate of genetic research ever since. In practical terms, sequencing the codes of genes enables us to compare ourselves with other organisms and to peer into our own past, as well as the story of life.

Unlike Watson and Crick, Mitchell was an eccentric and reclusive genius, who set up his own laboratory in an old country house in Cornwall, which he had renovated himself, following his own designs. At one time, his research was funded in part by the proceeds from a herd of dairy cows, and he even won a prize for the quality of his cream. His writings did not compete with Watson’s Double Helix—besides the usual run of dry academic papers (even more obscure than usual in Mitchell’s own case), he expounded his theories in two ‘little grey books’, published privately and circulated among a few interested professionals. His ideas can’t be encapsulated in a visually arresting emblem like the double helix, redolent of the standing of science in society. Yet Mitchell was largely responsible for articulating and proving one of the very greatest insights in biology, a genuine and bizarre revolution that overturned long-cherished ideas. As the eminent molecular biologist Leslie Orgel put it: ‘Not since Darwin has biology come up with an idea as counterintuitive as those of, say, Einstein, Heisenberg or Schrödinger. . . his contemporaries might well have asked “Are you serious, Dr Mitchell?”’

pages: 564 words: 163,106

The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine by M. D. James le Fanu M. D.


Barry Marshall: ulcers, clean water, cuban missile crisis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, experimental subject, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, meta analysis, meta-analysis, rising living standards, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell, telerobotics, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, V2 rocket

But we have moved, in the light of these extraordinary findings, from supposing those instructions are at least knowable in principle to recognizing that we have no conception what they might be. It might seem pointless to enquire why this might be so, but the explanation must lie at least in part in the simple elegance of the two intertwining strands of the double helix, which for so long has held out the promise that it might be possible to understand ‘the secret of life’. That simple elegance cannot be because the double helix is simple, but because it has to be simple, if it is to copy the genetic material every time the cell divides.24 And that obligation to be simple requires the double helix to condense within the one-dimensional sequence of the CGAT chemicals of the genes strung out along the two intertwining strands the billion-fold biological complexities of the three-dimensional forms and attributes that so readily distinguish one form of life from another – flies from worms from frogs from humans.

The only way to try and come to a balanced judgement is to trace the evolution of the principal ideas over the last twenty-five years and then examine the record of its three practical applications to medicine: Genetic Engineering as a method of developing new drugs; Genetic Screening as a means of eradicating inherited disease; and Gene Therapy for the correction of genetic defects. We begin with a preamble describing how the genes work, elucidated for greater clarity by reference to the schematic diagram on page 314. This starts in 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick famously discovered the structure of DNA to be a spiral staircase (or double helix).2 The two outer ‘banisters’ of the staircase are made up of two strands of sugar molecules – Deoxyribose – from each of which is suspended a parallel series of four types of molecule known as Nucleic Acids – Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine (referred to by their initials AGCT) – arranged in sequence. The chemical bonds linking the two parallel chains of nucleic acids form the ‘steps’ of the staircase.

The profound significance of this ‘staircase structure’ is that it is particularly well suited to the replication of genetic information every time the cell divides, as Watson and Crick described: We imagine that, prior to duplication, the bonds [connecting the two parallel chains of nucleic acids or ‘nucleotides’] are broken and the two chains unwind and separate [the staircase, as it were, splits down the middle]. Each chain then acts as a template for the formation on to itself of a new companion chain, so that eventually we shall have two pairs of chains where we only had one before. Moreover the sequence of the pairs of nucleotides will have been duplicated exactly.3 The double helix of DNA consists of two parallel strands of deoxyribose sugar molecules, to which are attached a sequence of nucleotides – AGCT – arranged in threes. The genetic instruction for a protein is conveyed by a strand of messenger RNA (mRNA) that passes out of the nucleus into the cytoplasm, where it feeds its coded instructions into a ribosome or protein factory. Next it is necessary to clarify the manner in which the nucleic acids (or nucleotides) form the ‘genes’ that code for the tens of thousands of different proteins (enzymes, hormones, etc.).

pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, digital map, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, mass immigration, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

EARLY LIFE SIMULATED (1953) In an effort to understand the conditions governing early life on earth, American chemist Stanley Miller and American physical chemist Harold Urey created a closed system, including the elements they believed were present in earth’s early atmosphere such as hydrogen, methane, and water. Miller and Urey discovered that amino acids could be easily produced under such conditions. DOUBLE HELIX (1953) Drawing on previous studies of nucleotides in DNA, American molecular biologist James D. Watson and British molecular biologist Francis Crick experimented with models of different combinations of nucleotides using paper and wire, and eventually settled upon the intertwined, dual, nucleotide strands that we now recognize as the double helix. VCR (1956) The invention of the VCR, or video cassette recorder, is generally attributed to the American engineer Charles Paulson Ginsburg, who developed the device while at the Ampex Corporation by applying high-frequency signals onto magnetic tape.

Without that link, he would have been merely a pioneering typesetter, making an incremental improvement on Pi Sheng’s movable type. By not restricting himself exclusively to the island of metallurgy, he became something much more important: a printer. The model of weak-tie exaptation also helps us understand the classic story of twentieth-century scientific epiphany: Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. As Ogle and others have noted, in the small scientific community working on the problem of DNA in the early 1950s, the person who had the clearest and most direct view of the molecule itself was neither James Watson nor Francis Crick. It was, instead, a biophysicist at London University named Rosalind Franklin, who was using state-of-the-art X-ray crystallography to study the mysterious strands of DNA.

First, there was the imperfect state of the X-ray technology, which only gave her hints about the helix structure and base-pair symmetry. But Franklin was also limited by the conceptual island on which she based her work. Her approach was purely inductive: master the X-ray technology and then use the information collected to build a model of DNA. (“We’re going to let the data tell us the structure,” she famously told Crick.) But to “see” the double-helix in the early 1950s took something more than just analyzing it in an X-ray machine. To solve the mystery, Watson and Crick had to piece it together with tools drawn from multiple disciplines: biochemistry, genetics, information theory, and mathematics, not to mention Franklin’s X-ray images. Even Crick’s sculpture metaphor proved crucial to cracking the code. Next to Franklin, Watson and Crick seemed almost dilettantes and dabblers: Crick had switched from physics to biology in his graduate years; neither had a comprehensive grasp of biochemistry.

pages: 339 words: 112,979

Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Mahatma Gandhi, music of the spheres, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steven Pinker, Zipf's Law

Sophisticated theologians who do not literally believe in the Virgin Birth, the Six Day Creation, the Miracles, the Transubstantiation or the Easter Resurrection are nevertheless fond of dreaming up what these events might symbolically mean. It is as if the double helix model of DNA were one day to be disproved and scientists, instead of accepting that they had simply got it wrong, sought desperately for a symbolic meaning so deep as to transcend mere factual refutation. 'Of course,' one can hear them saying, 'we don't literally believe factually in the double helix any more. That would indeed be crudely simplistic. It was a story that was right for its own time, but we've moved on. Today, the double helix has a new meaning for us. The compatibility of guanine with cytosine, the glove-like fit of adenine with thymine, and especially the intimate mutual twining of the left spiral around the right, all speak to us of loving, caring, nurturing relationships...'

The compatibility of guanine with cytosine, the glove-like fit of adenine with thymine, and especially the intimate mutual twining of the left spiral around the right, all speak to us of loving, caring, nurturing relationships...' Well, I'd be surprised if it quite came to that, and not only because the double helix model is now very unlikely to be disproved. But in science, as in any other field, there really are dangers of becoming intoxicated by symbolism, by meaningless resemblances, and led farther and farther from the truth, rather than towards it. Steven Pinker reports that he is troubled by correspondents who have discovered that everything in the universe comes in threes: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; protons, neutrons and electrons; masculine, feminine and neuter; Huey, Dewey, and Louie; and so on, for page after page. How the Mind Works (1998) Slightly more seriously, Sir Peter Medawar, the distinguished British zoologist and polymath whom I quoted before, invents a great new universal principle of complementarity (not Bohr's) according to which there is an essential inner similarity in the relationships that hold between antigen and antibody, male and female, electropositive and electronegative, thesis and antithesis, and so on.

Gould is aware of the difference between rapid gradualism and macromutation, but he treats the matter as though it were a minor detail, to be cleared up after we have taken on board the overarching question of whether evolution is episodic rather than gradual. One can see it as overarching only if one is intoxicated by bad poetry. It makes as little sense as my correspondent's question about the DNA double helix and whether it 'comes from' the earth's orbit. Once again, rapid gradualism no more resembles macromutation than a bleeding wizard resembles a shower of rain. Even worse is to claim catastrophism under the same punctuationist umbrella. In pre-Darwinian times the existence of fossils became increasingly embarrassing for upholders of biblical creation. Some hoped to drown the problem in Noah's flood, but why did the strata seem to show dramatic replacements of whole faunas, each one different from its predecessor, and all of them largely free of our own, familiar creatures?

pages: 465 words: 103,303

The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery by George Johnson


Atul Gawande, Cepheid variable, Columbine, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Gary Taubes, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, Magellanic Cloud, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, phenotype, profit motive, stem cell

…A curious law of nature … Contemplating the odds CHAPTER 2 Nancy’s Story Food pyramidology … Pascal’s wager … Folates, antioxidants, and Finnish smokers … Fruits, vegetables, and giant steaks … Carcinogenic estrogen … The real risks of cigarettes … Emanations from the earth … Cancer clusters … A worrisome lump … Nancy’s cancer CHAPTER 3 The Consolations of Anthropology In the boneyards of Kenya … Face-to-face with Kanam man…Palaeo-Oncology…Hippocrates and the crabs … The wild beast of cancer … Metastasis in a Scythian king … Skeletons and mummies … Visions of an ancient paradise … Counting up the dead CHAPTER 4 Invasion of the Body Snatchers “Large and beautifully pellucid cells”…Morbid juices … Seeds and soil … The mysteries of metastasis … A horrifying precision … The ebb and flow of lymph … The surgeon’s diagnosis … Weeds from outer space CHAPTER 5 Information Sickness Man-made mutations … Funny-looking chromosomes…“A new kind of cell”…Matter that comes alive … The Radium Girls … Coal tar and tumors … Viral invaders … Oncogenes and tumor suppressors … Cellular suicide … Intimations of immortality … A conspiracy of cells CHAPTER 6 “How Heart Cells Embrace Their Fate” Embryos and tumors … Snail, slug, and twist … Sonic hedgehog … the Pokémon gene … Cyclopean sheep … Holoprosencephaly … 1 + 1 = 3 … Prayers of an agnostic … An endless day at the hospital CHAPTER 7 Where Cancer Really Comes From The surprising aftermath of Love Canal … What “environment” really means…“The Causes of Cancer”…An environmental turncoat … The carcinogens in coffee … Mitogenesis and mutagenesis … Making sense of the cancer statistics … A maverick presidential report CHAPTER 8 “Adriamycin and Posole for Christmas Eve” Cancer cells and magnets … The penicillin of cancer … A rare kind of malignancy … Disheartening statistics…“The Median Isn’t the Message”…Flying farolitos … A visit to MD Anderson … Rothko’s brooding chapel CHAPTER 9 Deeper into the Cancer Cell A physics of cancer … Epigenetic software … The stem cell conundrum … An enormous meeting in Orlando … Espresso and angiogenesis … The news from Oz.…Communing with the microbiome … Beyond the double helix … Dancing at the Cancer Ball CHAPTER 10 The Metabolic Mess Chimney sweeps and nuns … A “mysterious sympathy”…The case of the missing carcinogens … The rise and fall of vegetables … A mammoth investigation … The insulin-obesity connection…“Wounds that do not heal”…A hundred pounds of sugar … Skewing the energy equation CHAPTER 11 Gambling with Radiation Flunking the radon test … A ubiquitous carcinogen … Down in the uranium mines … Tourism at Chernobyl … Hiroshima and Nagasaki … Exhuming Curie’s grave … A pocketful of radium … Robot oncologists … Relay for Life CHAPTER 12 The Immortal Demon A flight to Boston … Stand Up to Cancer … A tale of two cousins … The return of the hedgehog … Where weird drug names come from … Waiting for super trastuzumab … Orphaned cancers … Biological game theory … Contagious cancer CHAPTER 13 Beware the Echthroi On Microwave Mountain … Cell phones and brain waves … Is cancer here “on purpose”?

This was long before DNA was identified as the stuff of genes, the helically shaped molecule that carries genetic information in a four-symbol alphabet—the nucleotides abbreviated G, C, A, and T. If a letter is changed, the meaning can be corrupted. The signal becomes noise or is silenced altogether. That kind of clarity would come decades later with the discoveries of Oswald Avery in 1944, Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase in 1952, and a year later when James Watson and Francis Crick cobbled together from cardboard, sheet metal, and wire their model of the double helix. For now Muller’s contribution was to show that whatever genes were made of and however they worked, you didn’t have to wait for mutations to occur. They could be produced at will by exposing the flies to x-rays. Most often the mutations sterilized the flies or killed them. That, he speculated, might explain why the rays were so effective at destroying rapidly dividing cancer cells—a therapy that had come into use almost as soon as x-rays were first produced in the laboratory of Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895.

One of them, p53, sits at the center of a web of chemical pathways controlling the life cycle of a cell. If you want to start a cancer, take down p53. If a cell is damaged and dividing too quickly, external sensors will pick up warning signals from crowded neighbors. Internal sensors will detect chemical imbalances or broken DNA. With an emergency declared, p53 will step in and slow down the clock so that DNA repair can take place. Proofreading enzymes scan the genome. If one strand of DNA’s double helix has been corrupted, the other strand can be used as a template to guide repair. Damaged sections can be excised, a replacement synthesized and put into place. If DNA repair is broken and other measures cannot save a cell that is mutating beyond control, p53 initiates programmed cell death, or apoptosis. The name is derived from a Greek word describing falling leaves. When an embryo is developing into a little body, it will produce far more cells than it needs.

pages: 332 words: 109,213

The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson

Albert Einstein, Asilomar, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, dark matter, double helix, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, kremlinology, Mikhail Gorbachev, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman

One was the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, the other was the discovery of the triple-helix structure of the collagen molecule. Both molecules are biologically important, DNA being the carrier of genetic information, collagen being the protein that holds human bodies together. The two discoveries involved similar scientific techniques and aroused similar competitive passions in the scientists racing to be the first to find the structure. Crick says that the two discoveries caused him equal excitement and equal pleasure at the time he was working on them. From the point of view of a historian who believes that science is a purely social construction, the two discoveries should have been equally significant. But in history as Crick experienced it, the two helixes were not equal. The double helix became the driving force of a new science, while the triple helix remained a footnote of interest only to specialists.

The double helix became the driving force of a new science, while the triple helix remained a footnote of interest only to specialists. Crick asks the question, how the different fates of the two helixes are to be explained. He answers the question by saying that human and social influences cannot explain the difference, that only the transcendent beauty of the double-helix structure and its genetic function can explain the difference. Nature herself, and not the scientist, decided what was important. In the history of the double helix, transcendence was real. Crick gives himself the credit for choosing an important problem to work on, but, he says, only Nature herself could tell how transcendentally important it would turn out to be. My message is that science is a human activity, and the best way to understand it is to understand the individual human beings who practice it.

Bernal was himself one of the founding fathers of molecular biology. In the 1930s he mastered the art of mapping the structure of large molecules by means of X-rays. He understood that this art would be the key to the understanding of the physical basis of life. His pioneering work led directly to the discovery of the double helix in 1953. Rosalind Franklin, who took the crucial X-ray pictures of DNA that showed the helical structure, was working in Bernal’s laboratory in London. In the 1968 foreword to his book, Bernal speaks of the double helix as “the greatest and most comprehensive idea in all science.” As a result of this discovery, we understand the basic principles by which living cells organize and reproduce themselves. Many mysteries remain, but it is inevitable that we shall understand the chemical processes of life in full detail, including the processes of development and differentiation of higher organisms, within the next century.

pages: 734 words: 244,010

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins


agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, complexity theory, delayed gratification, double helix, Drosophila, Haight Ashbury, invention of writing, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, nuclear winter, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steven Pinker, the High Line, urban sprawl

This is because, unlike proteins with their near infinite variety of three-dimensional shapes, DNA has only one shape, the famous double helix itself. The double helix is ideally suited to replication because the two sides of the stairway peel easily away from one another, each being then exposed as a template for new letters to join, following the Watson-Crick pairing rules. It is not much good for anything else. RNA has some of the virtues of DNA as a replicator and some of the virtues of protein as a versatile shaper of enzymes. The four letters of RNA are sufficiently similar to the four letters of DNA that either set can serve as a template for the other. On the other hand, RNA does not easily form a long double helix, which means that it is somewhat inferior to DNA as a replicator. This is partly because the double helix system lends itself to proof-correction. When the DNA double helix splits and each single helix immediately serves as a template for its complement, errors can instantly be spotted, and corrected.

Computer graphic of transfer RNA, paired with itself to make a miniature double helix. But the lack of a double helix structure has its upside as well as its downside. Because the RNA chain doesn't spend all its time paired with its complementary chain but breaks away from the complement as soon as it is formed, it is free to tie itself in knots like a protein. Just as the protein does it by virtue of the chemical affinities of amino acids for other amino acids in different parts of the same chain, RNA does it using the ordinary Watson-Crick base-pairing rules, the same ones as are used to make copies of RNA. Putting it another way, lacking a partner chain to pair with in a double helix like DNA, RNA is free to 'pair' with odd bits of itself. RNA finds small stretches of itself with which it can pair, either in a miniature double helix or in some other shape.

A story is whispered to the first child, who whispers it to the second, and so on until the last child, whose finally revealed version of the story turns out to be an amusingly garbled and degraded version of the original. * 'Redundant' is sometimes mistakenly used instead of degenerate, but it means something different. The genetic code is, as it happens, redundant too. in that either strand of the double helix could be decoded to yield the same information. Only one of them is actually decoded, but the other is used for correcting errors. Engineers, too, use redundancy -- repetitiousness --to correct errors. The degeneracy of the genetic code is something different, and it is what we are talking about here. A degenerate code contains synonyms and could therefore accommodate a larger range of meanings than it actually does.

pages: 460 words: 107,712

A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Desert Island Discs, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, Necker cube, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method

It is simply true that the Sun is hotter than the Earth, true that the desk on which I am writing is made of wood. These are not hypotheses awaiting falsification; not temporary approximations to an ever-elusive truth; not local truths that might be denied in another culture. And the same can safely be said of many scientific truths, even where we can’t see them ‘with our own eyes’. It is forever true that DNA is a double helix, true that if you and a chimpanzee (or an octopus or a kangaroo) trace your ancestors back far enough you will eventually hit a shared ancestor. To a pedant, these are still hypotheses which might be falsified tomorrow. But they never will be. Strictly, the truth that there were no human beings in the Jurassic Period is still a conjecture, which could be refuted at any time by the discovery of a single fossil, authentically dated by a battery of radiometric methods.

So a crystal may grow in solution from a tiny ‘seed’ – perhaps an impurity like the sand grain at the heart of a pearl. There is no grand design of buckyballs, quartz crystals, diamonds or anything else. This principle of self-assembly runs right through living structure, too. DNA itself (the genetic molecule, the molecule at the centre of all life) can be regarded as a long, spiral crystal in which one half of the double helix self-assembles on a template provided by the other. Viruses self-assemble like elaborately complex crystal-clusters. The head of the T4 bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria) actually looks like a single crystal. Go into any museum and look at the collection of minerals. Even go into a New Age shop and look at the crystals on display, along with all the other apparatus of mumbo-jumbo and kitsch con-trickery.

Females have two X chomosomes, one from each parent. A male shares X chromosome genes with his maternal, but not his paternal, uncle. 2 This distinction was also used in ‘Darwin Triumphant’ (p. 104). 2.5 Son of Moore’s Law70 Great achievers who have gone far sometimes amuse themselves by then going too far. Peter Medawar knew what he was doing when he wrote, in his review of James D. Watson’s The Double Helix, It is simply not worth arguing with anyone so obtuse as not to realize that this complex of discoveries [molecular genetics] is the greatest achievement of science in the twentieth century. Medawar, like the author of the book he was reviewing, could justify his arrogance in spades, but you don’t have to be obtuse to dissent from his opinion. What about that earlier Anglo-American complex of discoveries known as the Neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis?

pages: 369 words: 80,355

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger


airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, book scanning, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, Debian, double entry bookkeeping, double helix,, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, future of journalism, Galaxy Zoo, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, linked data, Netflix Prize, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pluto: dwarf planet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, slashdot, social graph, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

Johannes Kepler examined the star charts carefully constructed by his boss, Tycho Brahe, until he realized in 1605 that if the planets orbit the Sun in ellipses rather than perfect circles, it all makes simple sense. Three hundred fifty years later, James Watson and Francis Crick stared at x-rays of DNA until they realized that if the molecule were a double helix, the data about the distances among its atoms made simple sense. With these discoveries, the data went from being confoundingly random to revealing an order that we understand: Oh, the orbits are elliptical! Oh, the molecule is a double helix! With the new database-based science, there is often no moment when the complex becomes simple enough for us to understand it. The model does not reduce to an equation that lets us then throw away the model. You have to run the simulation to see what emerges. For example, Eric Bonabeau, an expert in models of this sort, suggests a simple game.

Kuhn argued that science was not simply a progressive march of discoveries that build on prior hard-won discoveries, bringing us ever closer to the truth. Rather, it turns out that the questions science asks, the facts it takes as relevant, and the explanations it gives all occur within an overarching scientific “paradigm” such as Aristotelian, Newtonian, or Einsteinian physics. Simple truths appear—and are relevant—only within complex, historical systems of thought, institutions, and equipment. • In 1968, James Watson published The Double Helix, an account of his and Francis Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA. This highly readable account scandalized many because it revealed that scientists are governed by personal ambition as well as by a desire to find the truth. Many accounts since then confirmed that there is a psychology and sociology of science. For example, in And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts recounts the shameful delays in the discovery of the retrovirus that causes AIDS due to rivalries among labs and government agencies

See Science at Creative Commons Crick, Francis Crisis of knowledge Crowds Crowdsourcing information amateur scientists British Parliamentarians’ use of expertise and leadership effectiveness Netflix contest open-notebook science Culture, information overload and Cybercascades Cyberchiefs: Autonomy and Authority in Online Tribes (O’Neil) Darnton, Robert DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Darwin, Charles amateur scientists’ contributions barnacle studies and insight and leap of thought long-form thinking science and publishing Data accuracy of published data crowdsourcing scientific and medical information data commons evaluating metadata information and overaccumulation of scientific data scientific knowledge Data-information-knowledge-wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy Davis, John Debian Decision-making advantages of networked corporate and government networked decision-making Debian community Dickover’s social solutions facing reality Wikipedia policy Defaults Democracy echo chambers hiding knowledge and increasing group polarization reason, truth, and knowledge Denney, Reuel Deolalikar, Vinay Derrida, Jacques Descartes, René Dialogue, exploring diversity through Dickens, Charles Dickover, Noel Diderot, Denis The Difference (Page) Discourses Diversity appropriate scoping decreasing intelligence echo chambers forking moderating negative effects of of expertise race and gender respectful conversations over DNA Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (film) Doctorow, Cory Dogger Bank Incident The Double Helix (Watson) Double-entry bookkeeping Dublin Core standard Dwarf planets E-books Echo chambers Ehrlich, Paul Einstein@Home Eliot, T.S. Embodied thought Emerson, Ralph Waldo Enders, John Engadget Environmental niche modeling Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Eureqa computer program Evolutionary science Experiments, scientific method and Expert Labs Expertise Challenger investigation crowdsourcing diversity in networking knowledge networks outperforming individuals professionalization of scaling knowledge and networking sub-networks Extremism: group polarization Exxon Valdez oil disaster Facebook Fact-based knowledge as foundation of knowledge British backlash against British chimney sweep reform Darwin’s work on barnacles international dispute settlement See also Data Fact-finding missions Facts Linked Data standard Malthusian theory of population growth networked Failed science Fear, information overload and Federal Advisory Committees (FACs) Federal Highway Administration Feminism Filters information overload as filter failure knowledge management FoldIt Food, extending shelf life of Foodies Ford Motors Forking Forscher, Bernard K.

pages: 239 words: 45,926

As the Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Work, Health & Wealth by Juan Enriquez


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, borderless world, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, creative destruction, double helix, global village, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, Howard Rheingold, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, personalized medicine, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, spice trade, stem cell, the new new thing

You rarely see bioinformaticians … They are too valuable to companies and universities. Things are moving too fast … And they are too passionate about what they do … To spend a lot of time giving speeches and interviews. But if you go into the bowels of Harvard Medical School … And are able to find the genetics department inside the Warren Alpert Building … (A significant test of intelligence in and of itself … Start by finding the staircase inspired by the double helix … and go past the bathrooms marked XX and XY …) There you can find a small den where George Church hangs out, surrounded by computers. He seems like a large teddy bear … Often hiding his extraordinary brain behind a quiet grin, a beard, and a self-effacing manner. This is ground zero for a wonderful commune of engineers, physicists, molecular biologists, and physicians …3 And some of the world’s smartest graduate students … Who are trying to make sense of the 100 terabytes of data that come out of gene labs yearly … A task equivalent to trying to sort and use a million new encyclopedias … every year.4 You can’t build enough “wet” labs (labs full of beakers, cells, chemicals, refrigerators) to process and investigate all the opportunities this scale of data generates.

The article concludes with one of the great understatements in the history of science: “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.” You can read the original paper: You might also want to look at Watson’s opinionated, short, and controversial The Double Helix (New York: Atheneum, 1968). 9. Time set up a fun page that profiles their picks for the top 100 scientists: www. 10. And when you want to translate gene code into proteins, you have to be even more careful. Careless translations bring many pitfalls. Cantonese smile when they hear the words “Mercedes-Benz,” because it can sound like “so clumsy, you die.” 11.

Sjolander, Brian Karlak, Anish Kejariwal, Huaiyu Mi, Betty Lazareva, Thomas Hatton, Apurva Narechania, Karen Diemer, Anushya Muruganujan, Nan Guo, Shinji Sato, Vineet Bafna, Sorin Istrail, Ross Lippert, Russell Schwartz, Brian Walenz, Shibu Yooseph, David Allen, Anand Basu, James Baxendale, Louis Blick, Marcelo Caminha, John Carnes-Stine, Parris Caulk, Yen-Hui Chiang, My Coyne, Carl Dahlke, Anne Deslattes Mays, Maria Dombroski, Michael Donnelly, Dale Ely, Shiva Esparham, Carl Fosler, Harold Gire, Stephen Glanowski, Kenneth Glasser, Anna Glodek, Mark Gorokhov, Ken Graham, Barry Gropman, Michael Harris, Jeremy Heil, Scott Henderson, Jeffrey Hoover, Donald Jennings, Catherine Jordan, James Jordan, John Kasha, Leonid Kagan, Cheryl Kraft, Alexander Levitsky, Mark Lewis, Xiangjun Liu, John Lopez, Daniel Ma, William Majoros, Joe McDaniel, Sean Murphy, Matthew Newman, Trung Nguyen, Ngoc Nguyen, Marc Nodell, Sue Pan, Jim Peck, Marshall Peterson, William Rowe, Robert Sanders, John Scott, Michael Simpson, Thomas Smith, Arlan Sprague, Timothy Stockwell, Russell Turner, Eli Venter, Mei Wang, Meiyuan Wen, David Wu, Mitchell Wu, Ashley Xia, Ali Zandieh, Xiaohong Zhul, “The Sequence of the Human Genome,” Science 291 (February 16, 2001): 1304–51. The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium also matched this extraordinary achievement with a different version of the genome published the same week: see Nature 409 (2001) … Got a lot of time on your hands and want to play Where’s Waldo? Take a look at the hundreds of photographs that form the double helix on the cover of Nature and find the one of Watson and Crick. 12. Reported in The New York Times based on data from Dr. Mani Subramanian from Celera. Chart does not include 5.1 percent miscellaneous genes. 13. The experiments occurred during 1998 and 1999 but were not reported until February 2001 out of fear that rogue states might use the data to create a vaccine-resistant smallpox. Ronald J.

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We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production by Charles Leadbeater


1960s counterculture, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, bioinformatics,, call centre, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, complexity theory, congestion charging, death of newspapers, Debian, digital Maoism, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, game design, Google Earth, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lone genius, M-Pesa, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microcredit, new economy, Nicholas Carr, online collectivism, planetary scale, post scarcity, Richard Stallman, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social web, software patent, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Whole Earth Catalog, Zipcar

A commonly owned irrigation system can be the shared platform for a mass of orange farmers. Commerce has often been built on shared foundations. This is especially so when the commons are not finite resources like woods and land, but knowledge and ideas.25 Bodies of ancient music are part of a cultural commons. Einstein’s theory of relativity is part of the commons, along with Watson and Crick’s description of the double helix of DNA. Language is a kind of commons. Dictionary publishers, broadcasters and teachers may attempt to claim authority over language but their right to do so is frequently contested. A language is not owned by anyone. The English language, which has developed by absorbing so many foreign influences, now provides a global common resource for business, science and culture.26 English has an estimated 380 million core speakers.

The puzzle of how the worm achieves this task was unravelled by a collaborative research effort, which in turn provided the basis for the global, public effort to map the human genome three decades later. Our map of the genome is the product of an elaborate shared authorship. Scientific collaborations like the one behind the unravelling of the C. elegans genome are a powerful working model for We-Think culture which the web is helping to spread. When Sydney Brenner set out to unravel the worm’s genome in 1965 – just eight years after Francis Crick and James Watson had uncovered the double-helix structure of DNA – little was known about how genes work. Brenner set out to find how the worm’s genes directed the organism’s growth, with only a small team of novice researchers and some crude tools: the scientists lifted worms into petri dishes with sharpened toothpicks. It was as if someone had seen the Wright brothers’ first flight and decided to start work on a jumbo jet.1 Brenner’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology provided the community’s core.

The same is true of We-Think. Diversity counts for little unless the different ideas that are floating around can be brought together to cross-pollinate. A community that is diverse but Balkanised will not be creative. People with different ideas must find a way to connect and communicate with one another. When they do, and in the right way, the results can be explosive. James Watson and Francis Crick unravelled the double-helix structure of DNA because they found a way to combine their very different outlooks. Crick’s training spanned physics, biology and chemistry. Watson had trained as a zoologist but had become fascinated by DNA after studying viruses. They combined their ideas through constant, intense conversation of a kind of which their rivals were incapable. Watson and Crick’s collaboration was a case of one plus one equals twelve.20 The larger the group and the more diverse perspectives are involved, the greater the benefits from combining them.

pages: 357 words: 98,853

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome by Nessa Carey


dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, epigenetics, mouse model, phenotype, placebo effect, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs

Location, location, location We are still left with a difficult conceptual problem. If the DNA sequence at the centromere isn’t very conserved, and the critical factor is the placement of the CENP-A protein, how does the cell ‘know’ where the centromere should be on each chromosome? Why is it always near the middle of chromosome 1, but near the end of chromosome 14? To understand this, we have to develop a more sophisticated image of the DNA in our cells. The DNA double helix is an iconic image, probably the defining image in biology. But it doesn’t really represent what DNA is like. DNA is a very long spindly molecule. If you stretched out the DNA from one human cell it would reach for two metres, assuming you joined up the material from all the chromosomes. But this DNA has to fit into the nucleus of a cell, and the nucleus has a diameter of just one hundredth of a millimetre.

It remains a little beacon of expression in the chromosomal darkness of the inactive X.10 Left to right, right to left So we have here a situation where a piece of ‘junk’ DNA – one that doesn’t code for protein – is absolutely essential for the function of half the human race. Scientists have recently discovered that this process of X inactivation requires at least one other piece of junk DNA. Confusingly, this is encoded in exactly the same place on the X chromosome as Xist. DNA, as we know, is composed of two strands (the iconic double helix). The machinery that copies DNA to form RNA always ‘reads’ DNA in one direction, which we could call the beginning and end of a specific sequence. But the two strands of DNA run in opposite directions to each other, a little like one of those funicular railways we find at older seaside and mountain resorts. This means that a particular region of DNA may carry two lots of information in one physical location, running in opposite directions to each other.

Instead, patterns are often maintained or created as a consequence of the histone modification combinations that are already present on the genome.10,11 This also seems to hold for the opposite effect, where active regions remain active. Long non-coding RNAs have been reported to be expressed from regions where protein-coding genes are switched on. These long non-coding RNAs stay moored to the genome region where they are produced, possibly by forming a third strand to accompany the double helix of DNA. These long non-coding RNAs bind to the enzymes that place methyl modifications on DNA and stop them doing their job. This keeps the genes in that region in an active state.12 If you’re inactive, you stay inactive Xist, which is critical for switching off expression from one of the X chromosomes in a female cell, was one of the first functional long non-coding RNAs to be identified.

pages: 433 words: 106,048

The End of Illness by David B. Agus M. D.


Danny Hillis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, epigenetics, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, impulse control, information retrieval, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, Steve Jobs, the scientific method

Chromosomes are composed of strands of DNA, which in turn are made up of tens of thousands of genes. DNA’s well-known double-helix structure is connected by rungs of approximately 3 billion base pairs, represented by four chemical bases, or nucleotides, known most commonly by the letters A (adenine), G (guanine), C (cytosine), and T (thymine). These nucleotides are key structural elements for the genes that individually or in combination determine everything from a person’s hair color to their predisposition for Parkinson’s disease. After thirteen years of work, the project was declared complete two years ahead of schedule in 2003, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of Francis Crick and James Watson’s Nobel Prize–winning discovery of the DNA double helix. Certain sequences of these building blocks make up genes, just like certain sequences of letters create words.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, we still didn’t have a clue as to exactly what was responsible for all these developing laws of inheritance. Mendel’s work wasn’t published until 1866 and went unnoticed and unappreciated until the turn of the century. It would take nearly another century from Mendel’s publication for science to dig deeper, when James Watson and Francis Crick proposed the double helix, or spiral staircase, structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. In essence, Watson and Crick officially discovered DNA, changing the textbooks forever now that we had an image of what “the secret to life” actually looked like. Such a feat has an almost religious significance in biology. Suddenly, we had a seemingly tangible thing to help explain what makes us tick and how we are made at the molecular level.

., 222 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center: personalized medicine at, 118, 119 circadian rhythm, 240–43, 246, 247 circulatory system, 16, 213 Cisco Systems, 283, 284 Cleveland Clinic antioxidant studies at, 165–66 family history link to cancer study by, 68 Coffey, Don, 82 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: complex medicine systems research at, 114 colds, 17, 130, 208–12 collaboration: and sharing of medical information, 280–83 College Alumni Health Study, 221 colon cancer, 36, 72, 75–76, 79, 88, 112, 175, 296 colonoscopies, 60, 112, 296 color of food/fruits and vegetables, 184, 194 of skin, 139–41, 142 colorectal cancer, 62, 130, 136, 137 Columbia University autism studies at, 83–84 obesity-sleep study at, 244–45 complex systems medicine, 114–17 comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), 58 computers, 114–15, 119, 272–74, 280 Consumer Reports magazine: diet survey of, 180 Cooper, Kenneth, 224–25 Cooper Aerobics Center, 224 correlation: in research studies, 135, 136 cortisol, 213, 238, 241, 245, 255 Crestor, 45, 75 See also statins Crick, Francis, 69, 103 Crohn’s disease, 72, 79 CT screenings, 296 cystic fibrosis, 104–5 cytochrome P450 (CYP450), 119–20 cytokines, 211 cytosine, 69 Darwin, Charles, 102, 103, 114 death causes of, 24, 233, 296 end of illness and, 2–3 search for master switch and, 294–301 statistics about, 23–27 deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), 72, 80 degenerative diseases, 232 dehydroascorbic acid, 154, 155, 157 Dell, Michael: Well at Dell program of, 282–83, 284 dementia, 161, 204, 205, 207–8, 227 demographics: as factor in research studies, 50–51 depression, 118–20, 121, 193, 202–3, 227, 240, 245, 253 diabetes and body as homeostatic, 138–39 as cause of death, 24, 233 cholesterol and, 201 environment and, 79 in the future, 260 genetics and, 72, 79 growth hormone and, 48, 242 hemoglobin A1C test and, 59–60 inflammation and, 47, 196 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 16 physical activity and, 221, 231 prenatal development and, 83 selenium and, 172 as systemic disease, 43 technology and, 264 vitamin C and, 163 vitamin D and, 133 weight and, 49 diagnosis, medical as dictating treatment, 29, 117 and genetics of infectious thinking, 31–41 keeping regular schedules and, 236–37 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and previous, 18 personalized treatment and, 117 proteomics and, 111–12 scientific thinking and, 29 statistics about death and, 23 technology and, 264–65, 267–69 diet/eating, 174–94 cancer and, 188, 214 and definition of health, 21 doing nothing and, 293 end of illness and, 296 genomics and, 121–22 gut feelings and, 192, 193 in history, 150–52 and keeping a regular schedule, 237, 238–39, 243–45, 246, 249, 258 microbiome and, 137, 187–90 multivitamins and, 158–59, 181 personalized treatment and, 121–22, 187 physical activity, 227 principles of health and, 3 protein in, 106 proteomics and, 121–22 and questions that patients need to ask doctors, 11 sleep and, 240, 243–45, 251 statistics about death and, 23 tests concerned with, 58 vitamin D and, 142, 143, 144, 145, 184–85 vitamins/supplements and, 157–58, 174–78, 194 digestion brain and, 191–93 microbiome and, 187–90 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 17 technology and, 268 DNA, decoding of, 118–19 DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) as blame for illness, 22–23 decoding of, 103–4 differences in, 70–71 double-helix structure of, 69, 103 drug responses and, 118 early experiments on, 104 encoding of, 106 free radicals and, 161 in the future, 267–68 as great theoretical triumph of biology, 100–101 inflammation and, 200–202 information gained from analysis of, 111 as list of parts, 99 as marker for risk of disease, 70 mitochondrial, 229 personalized treatment and, 118 protein and, 99–100 repair of, 201, 229, 266 restaurant analogy and, 99, 100, 104, 105 search for master switch and, 295 sequencing of, 104, 106, 108 as static, 111 technology and, 263–64 understanding of, 100–105 variations in, 71 See also genes/genetics; genetic testing “do no harm” oath, 4–5 doctors and amount of time spent with patients, 55 annual examainations by, 53, 270 and being your own doctor first, 53–55, 66 discussions between patients and, 10–11, 55–56, 57, 61–62, 63–64 “do no harm” oath of, 4–5 friend/family member on visit with, 57 game plan for visit with, 56–57, 64 information given to, 55 “informed choice”/“shared decision making” and, 54 mistakes of, 297 paternalistic style of, 54 patient’s relationship with, 53–55, 66, 287 recording of discussions with, 57 sharing of medical information and, 285 as staying current, 54 and tests for doctors to run, 57–60 dogs, 257–58, 295 doing nothing, 288–93 dopamine, 256 down-regulation, 146–47 downtime, 254–57, 258 drugs advancements in, 23 complex systems medicine and, 116 definition of, 148–49 development of, 93 discussions with doctors about, 11, 63–64 doing nothing and, 293 end of illness and, 295 environment and, 84–86, 95 in the future, 260, 261 genetics and, 72, 73, 116 individual differences in response to, 118, 122 in laboratory animals, 93–94 list of, 56 and multiple outcomes of single drug, 85–86 need for innovation concerning, 297–98 negative reactions to, 91 “off-label” use of, 88 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 18 personalized treatment and, 117–22, 189–90, 260 platinum-based, 90, 93 regulation of, 292 and shades of gray, 91–94 side effects of, 47, 167 for sleep, 249–51 technology and, 189–90, 260, 261 trade-offs concerning, 48 vitamins/supplements as, 148–49 See also pharmaceutical industry; specific drug Dubner, Stephen, 135 Duke University: Avastin studies at, 89 Ecuador: human growth hormone study in, 48–49 Egg Concept, 82–83 Einhorn, Lawrence, 90 The Elements of Style (Strunk and White), 123–24 emotions gut feelings and, 193 and keeping a regular schedule, 238 See also feelings The Emperor of All Maladies (Mukherjee), 35 employer-based medical information programs, 282–84, 283n, 286, 287 endocrine disease, 72 endocrine signals, 191–92 endorphins, 213 energy, 15, 117, 159, 192, 229, 237 engineering application to football of, 273 complex systems medicine and, 114–15 computer, 280 protein studies and, 108–9, 117 enterotypes, 188–90 environment and body as homeostatic, 138–39 body (micro), 82–95 circadian rhythm and, 240–42 definition of, 81 drugs and, 84–86, 95 Egg Concept and, 82–83 family health tree and, 68 genetics and, 71, 79–81, 82, 95 importance of, 83 and keeping a regular schedule, 239, 244 laboratory studies and, 86–91, 93–94 life expectancy and, 95 outside (macro), 94–95 prenatal development and, 83 principles of health and, 3 protein and, 97–100 shades of gray and, 91–94 for sleep, 248–49 Epidemiology and Public Health Department (University College, London): heart, 231 epigenetics, 205–6 epilepsy, 210 esophageal cancer, 62 estrogen, 16, 84 ethnicity: as factor in research studies, 50 European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Heidelberg, Germany): microbiome, 188 European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), 30 examinations, medical: annual, 53 exercise.

pages: 395 words: 116,675

The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley


affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, altcoin, anthropic principle, anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Columbian Exchange, computer age, Corn Laws, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, Donald Davies, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, endogenous growth, epigenetics, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, falling living standards, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, George Santayana, Gunnar Myrdal, Henri Poincaré, hydraulic fracturing, imperial preference, income per capita, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, land reform, Lao Tzu, long peace, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Necker cube, obamacare, out of africa, packet switching, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, price mechanism, profit motive, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, smart contracts, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce

But it is impossible to imagine relativity remaining undiscovered for long in the first half of the twentieth century, just as it is impossible to imagine the genetic code remaining undiscovered for long in the second half. The discovery of the double helix in 1953 remains plagued to this day by accusations that too much credit went to the first two people to solve the structure, and not to those who did some of the hard work that led to the insight. As Francis Crick pondered of his partner in the elucidation of the double helix, James Watson: ‘If Jim had been killed by a tennis ball, I am reasonably sure I would not have solved the structure alone, but who would?’ There were plenty of candidates: Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin, Raymond Gosling, Linus Pauling, Sven Furberg, and others. The double helix and the genetic code would not have remained hidden for long. Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, is an interesting exception to the rule of simultaneous discovery.

The artificial synthesis in 1828 of urea, a substance produced hitherto exclusively by living creatures, was one such blow, which largely destroyed the idea that chemistry was going to find the vital principle. Vitalists fell back on physics, and later quantum physics, where they suggested that mysterious peculiarities might still exist. But that too was blown away by the discovery of the structure of DNA. In a way you could argue that the double helix did confirm that there is something peculiar and special about living tissue – namely, that it contains digital information capable of both replicating itself and instructing the synthesis of machinery for harnessing energy. The secret of life, unexpectedly, turned out to be an infinitely combinatorial message written in digital form in three-letter words in a four-letter alphabet. This was very much not what vitalists had expected; it seemed too mundane – though actually it is one of the most beautiful ideas ever to cross a human mind – that life is information.

Chapter 7: The Evolution of Technology On the history of the electric light, Friedel, R. 1986. Edison’s Electric Light. Rutgers University Press. On simultaneous invention, Wagner, A. 2014. Arrival of the Fittest. Current Books; Kelly, Kevin 2010. What Technology Wants. Penguin (Viking); and Armstrong, Sue 2014. The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code. Bloomsbury Sigma p53. On the inevitability of the discovery of the double helix, Ridley, Matt 2006. Francis Crick. HarperCollins. On the four-factor formula, Spencer Weart cited in Kelly, Kevin 2010. What Technology Wants. Penguin (Viking). On Moore’s Law used to predict Pixar’s moment, Smith, Alvy Ray 2013. How Pixar used Moore’s Law to predict the future. Wired 17 April 2013. On Moore’s Law and its cousins, Ridley, Matt 2012. Why can’t things get better faster (or slower)?.

pages: 297 words: 77,362

The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur


Andrew Wiles, business process, cognitive dissonance, computer age, creative destruction, double helix, endogenous growth, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, haute cuisine, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, locking in a profit, Mars Rover, means of production, Myron Scholes, railway mania, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Every step involved had been done already” But Mullis’s “easy” solution was to “amplify DNA by the repeated reciprocal extension of two primers hybridized to the separate strands of a particular DNA sequence.” In lay terms this means finding short stretches of DNA (primers) that flag the beginning and end of the DNA stretch to be copied, and separating the DNA double helix into two separate strands. Once the primers are added, the two strands can build from these (using an enzyme called polymerase) and pick up complementary components to form two new double helixes. Repeating this process again and again multiplies the new double helix copies from 2 to 4 to 8 to 16… indefinitely. This was something easy at that time only to a practitioner with considerable experience of functionalities in working with DNA—something easy to Mullis. The Pyramid of Causality I have described invention in this chapter as a micro-process by which an individual (or several) comes up with a novel way of doing things.

pages: 654 words: 204,260

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Brownian motion, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, clean water, Copley Medal, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

., p. 211. 13 “worth two Nobel Prizes . . .” Maddox, Rosalind Franklin, p. 327. 14 “not to give Avery a Nobel Prize.” White, Rivals, p. 251. 15 “a member of a highly popular radio program called The Quiz Kids . . .” Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation, p. 46. 16 “without my learning any chemistry . . .” Watson, The Double Helix, p. 28. 17 “the results of which were obtained ‘fortuitously' . . .” Jardine, Ingenious Pursuits, p. 356. 18 “In a severely unflattering portrait . . .” Watson, The Double Helix, p. 26. 19 “in the summer of 1952 she posted a mock notice . . .” White, Rivals, p. 257; and Maddox, p. 185. 20 “apparently without her knowledge or consent.” PBS website, “A Science Odyssey,” undated. 21 “Years later Watson conceded. . .” Quoted in Maddox, p. 317. 22 “a 900-word article by Watson and Crick titled ‘A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.' ” De Duve, vol. 2, p. 290. 23 “It received a small mention in the News Chronicle . . .”

Neither was formally trained in biochemistry. Their assumption was that if you could determine the shape of a DNA molecule you would be able to see—correctly, as it turned out—how it did what it did. They hoped to achieve this, it would appear, by doing as little work as possible beyond thinking, and no more of that than was absolutely necessary. As Watson cheerfully (if a touch disingenuously) remarked in his autobiographical book The Double Helix, “It was my hope that the gene might be solved without my learning any chemistry.” They weren't actually assigned to work on DNA, and at one point were ordered to stop it. Watson was ostensibly mastering the art of crystallography; Crick was supposed to be completing a thesis on the X-ray diffraction of large molecules. Although Crick and Watson enjoy nearly all the credit in popular accounts for solving the mystery of DNA, their breakthrough was crucially dependent on experimental work done by their competitors, the results of which were obtained “fortuitously,” in the tactful words of the historian Lisa Jardine.

Far ahead of them, at least at the beginning, were two academics at King's College in London, Wilkins and Franklin. The New Zealand–born Wilkins was a retiring figure, almost to the point of invisibility. A 1998 PBS documentary on the discovery of the structure of DNA—a feat for which he shared the 1962 Nobel Prize with Crick and Watson—managed to overlook him entirely. The most enigmatic character of all was Franklin. In a severely unflattering portrait, Watson in The Double Helix depicted Franklin as a woman who was unreasonable, secretive, chronically uncooperative, and—this seemed especially to irritate him—almost willfully unsexy. He allowed that she “was not unattractive and might have been quite stunning had she taken even a mild interest in clothes,” but in this she disappointed all expectations. She didn't even use lipstick, he noted in wonder, while her dress sense “showed all the imagination of English blue-stocking adolescents.”*44 However, she did have the best images in existence of the possible structure of DNA, achieved by means of X-ray crystallography, the technique perfected by Linus Pauling.

pages: 667 words: 186,968

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry


Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, centralized clearinghouse, Chance favours the prepared mind, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, germ theory of disease, index card, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Mason jar, means of production, statistical model, the medium is the message, the scientific method, traveling salesman, women in the workforce

“likened to a gene”: Oswald Avery, Colin McLeod, and Maclyn McCarty, “Studies on the Chemical Nature of the Substance Inducing Transformation of Pneumococcal Types,” Journal of Experimental Medicine (Feb. 1, 1944, reprinted Feb. 1979), 297–326. “little influence on thought”: Gunther Stent, Introduction, The Double Helix: A Norton Critical Edition by James Watson (1980), xiv. “obviously of fundamental importance”: Nobelstiftelsen, Nobel, the Man, and his Prizes (1962), 281. “Avery showed”: James Watson, The Double Helix: A Norton Critical Edition, See 12, 13, 18. “Avery gave us”: Horace Judson, Eighth Day of Creation: The Makers of the Revolution in Biology (1979), 94. “we were very attentive”: Ibid., 59. “nonsense to say that we were not aware”: Ibid., 62–63. “dark ages of DNA”: Watson, Double Helix, 219. “opening…the field of molecular biology”: Dubos, Professor, Institute and DNA, 156. “keeping his own counsel”: Ibid., 164. CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX solid evidence: Transcript of Influenza Commission minutes, first session, Oct. 30, 1918; second session, Nov. 22, 1918; fourth session, Feb. 14, 1919, Winslow papers.

A prize would endorse his findings and the committee would take no such risk, not until others confirmed them. The official history of the organization that gives the prize states, “Those results were obviously of fundamental importance, but the Nobel Committee found it desirable to wait until more became known….” Others were determined to make more known. James Watson, with Francis Crick the codiscoverer of the structure of DNA, wrote in his classic The Double Helix that “there was general acceptance that genes were special types of protein molecules” until “Avery showed that hereditary traits could be transmitted from one bacterial cell to another by purified DNA molecules…. A very’s experiments strongly suggested that future experiments would show that all genes were composed of DNA…. A very’s experiment made [DNA] smell like the essential genetic material….

Simon Flexner Memorial Pamphlet. New York: Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, 1946. Smith, Elbert. When the Cheering Stopped: The Last Years of Woodrow Wilson. New York: Morrow, 1964. Starr, Paul. The Social Transformation of American Medicine. New York: Basic Books, 1982. Steele, Richard W. Free Speech in the Good War. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Stent, Gunther. Introduction to The Double Helix: A Norton Critical Edition, by James Watson, edited by Gunther Stent. New York: Norton, 1980. Sternberg, Martha. George Sternberg: A Biography. Chicago: American Medical Association, 1925. Thompson, E. Symes. Influenza. London: Percival & Co., 1890. Thomson, David, and Robert Thomson. Annals of the Pickett-Thomson Research Laboratory, vols. 9 and 10, Influenza. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkens, 1934.

pages: 855 words: 178,507

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

Lecture Notes in Physics, no. 642. Berlin: Springer, 2003. Waldrop, M. Mitchell. “Reluctant Father of the Digital Age.” Technology Review (July–August 2001): 64–71. Wang, Hao. “Some Facts About Kurt Gödel.” Journal of Symbolic Logic 46 (1981): 653–59. Watson, David L. “Biological Organization.” Quarterly Review of Biology 6, no. 2 (1931): 143–66. Watson, James D. The Double Helix. New York: Atheneum, 1968. ———. Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix. New York: Knopf, 2002. ———. Molecular Models of Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Watson, James D., and Francis Crick. “A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.” Nature 171 (1953): 737. ———. “Genetical Implications of the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid.” Nature 171 (1953): 964–66. Watts, Duncan J. “Networks, Dynamics, and the Small-World Phenomenon.”

They could not see these molecules; they could only seek clues in the shadows cast by X-ray diffraction. But they knew a great deal about the subunits. Each nucleotide contained a “base,” and there were just four different bases, designated as A, C, G, and T. They came in strictly predictable proportions. They must be the letters of the code. The rest was trial and error, fired by imagination. What they discovered became an icon: the double helix, heralded on magazine covers, emulated in sculpture. DNA is formed of two long sequences of bases, like ciphers coded in a four-letter alphabet, each sequence complementary to the other, coiled together. Unzipped, each strand may serve as a template for replication. (Was it Schrödinger’s “aperiodic crystal”? In terms of physical structure, X-ray diffraction showed DNA to be entirely regular.

Who writes them? Who reads them? The Tie Club recognized that the problem was not just information storage but information transfer. DNA serves two different functions. First, it preserves information. It does this by copying itself, from generation to generation, spanning eons—a Library of Alexandria that keeps its data safe by copying itself billions of times. Notwithstanding the beautiful double helix, this information store is essentially one-dimensional: a string of elements arrayed in a line. In human DNA, the nucleotide units number more than a billion, and this detailed gigabit message must be conserved perfectly, or almost perfectly. Second, however, DNA also sends that information outward for use in the making of the organism. The data stored in a one-dimensional strand has to flower forth in three dimensions.

pages: 390 words: 108,811

Geektastic: Stories From the Nerd Herd by Holly Black, Cecil Castellucci


citation needed, double helix, index card, Maui Hawaii, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup

Neither of us missed a question, so it became a test of buzzer willpower. I started to ring in a split-second before I knew the answer. And I always knew the answer. Until I did the unthinkable. I buzzed in for a science question. Which Nobel prize winner later went on to write The Double Helix and Avoid Boring People? I realized immediately it wasn’t Saul Bellow or Kenzaburo Oe. As the judge said, “Do you have an answer?” the phrase TheDoubleHelix hit in my head. “Crick!” I exclaimed. The judge looked at me for a moment, then down at his card. “That is incorrect. Clearwater, which Nobel prize winner later went on to write The Double Helix and Avoid Boring People?” It was not the lit girl who buzzed in. “James D. Watson,” one of the math boys answered snottily, the D sent as a particular fuck you to me. “Sorry,” I whispered to my team. “It’s okay,” Damien said.

pages: 286 words: 90,530

Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think by Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley


Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, bioinformatics, cognitive bias, computer age, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Haight Ashbury, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, loose coupling, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, phenotype, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

(I cannot resist suggesting the usit—pronounced ‘use it’—as an applicable little term to represent the disputed unit-of-selection whatever that may be and mean.) The continued debate between gene-selectionists and group-selectionists identifies an ambiguity in the meaning of the word ‘gene’, even when this is defined as a rarely-recombining stretch of DNA. A gene could refer to the group of atoms that is organized into a particular DNA sequence—each time the double helix replicates, the gene is replaced by two new genes—or it could refer to the abstract sequence that remains the same gene no matter how many times the sequence is replicated. We might call these concepts the material gene and the informational gene. Dawkins refers to something like the informational gene when he describes the selfish gene as ‘all replicas of a particular bit of DNA’ but I believe that he neither wanted nor intended this definition.

Memes also have a physical form in their transmission from one individual to another, sometimes as sound vibrations, or text on paper, or electronic signals relayed through a modem. When these ‘outward’ forms of a meme are perceived, they elicit changes in a nervous system that constitute the meme’s ‘cryptic’ form. The material basis of the cryptic form is probably unique to each nervous system colonized by the meme. Memetic replication, then, has nothing like the elegant simplicity of the double helix. If the material form of memes is problematic, might it be more appropriate to define memes purely in terms of information? But what are the memes in our evolving concepts of the gene? These concepts have been reformulated and recombined with other ideas at each step in the chain of transmission. How can one identify the ‘nuggets’ of ideas that remain unchanged during this process and thus persist ‘for enough generations to serve as a unit of natural selection’?

Non-fiction publishers had been given plenty of warning that science was a rich vein to mine, evolutionary theory in particular. In 1961 the screen writer Robert Ardrey’s African Genesis popularized the killer ape theory. Konrad Lorenz followed with On Aggression in 1963 and Desmond Morris with The Naked Ape in 1967. The latter would sell more than ten million copies. The great success of Jim Watson’s The Double Helix (1968), Jacques Monod’s Chance and Necessity (1970) and Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man (z973) reinforced the view that science could generate a huge best-seller almost every year. In this context, The Selfish Gene was merely the 1976 incarnation of a regular phenomenon. But it stood out in two ways. One was the sheer brilliance of the prose. Dawkins’ sentences had such rhythm, his words had such precision and his thoughts had such order that his book was tasty literature as well as nourishing argument.

pages: 287 words: 86,919

Protocol: how control exists after decentralization by Alexander R. Galloway


Ada Lovelace, airport security, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, computer age, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, discovery of DNA, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, John Conway, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, linear programming, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, packet switching, phenotype, post-industrial society, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, semantic web, SETI@home, stem cell, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, the market place, theory of mind, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Review, working poor

So, in 1953, when Watson and Crick discovered DNA (perhaps not anticipating its subsequent ascendance to the supreme definition of life itself fifty years later), they prove not simply that life is an informatic object (that much had been clear for decades with the Bertillon system of criminal phrenology, the quantification of human movement by Muybridge, and so on) but rather that life is an aesthetic object; it is a double helix, an elegant, hyper-Platonic form that rises like a ladder into the heights of aesthetic purity. Life was no longer a “pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas” (Eliot), it was a code borne from pure mathematics, an object of aesthetic beauty, a double helix! This historical moment—when life is defined no longer as essence, but as code—is the moment when life becomes a medium.97 95. Sanford Kwinter, “Introduction: War in Peace,” in Branden Hookway, Pandemonium: The Rise of Predatory Locales in the Postwar Period (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), pp. 9–10, emphasis mine. 96.

See Society, disciplinary Discipline and Punish (Foucault), 21, 31 Discourse, in Marx, 91 Discourse Networks, 1800/1900 (Kittler), 18, 22 Dispositif, 25 Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), 214 Distribution and control, 47 as diagram, 197 and management, 110, 243 network (see Network, distributed) Dividual (Deleuze), 86 DNA, 26, 111 computer, 112 Documenta X, 187 Doll Yoko. See da Rimini, Francesca Domain Name System (DNS), 5, 8–10, 12, 47, 49–50, 141, 143, 218 Dominguez, Ricardo, 175, 214 Double helix, 111 Dreyfus, Hubert, 17, 102 Dr-K, 171 Drucker, Peter, 17 Druckrey, Timothy, 19, 211–212 Drummond, Bill, 227n32 DVD, 126, 172 Dyer-Witheford, Nick, 33 Ebay, 233–238 Edison, Thomas, 126 Eisenstein, Sergei, 89–90, 102 Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), 175, 214, 217, 234 Empire, 158 Empire (Hardt and Negri), 24–26, 209n1 Engelbart, Douglas, 106n84 Entropy, 103–105 Enzensberger, Hans Magnus, 16, 18, 56–58, 209 Ethernet, 127 Etoy, 9–10, 219–232, 234 eToys, 229, 232 Eugenics, 85n13 Expanded Cinema (Youngblood), 210n7 Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT), 210n7 Exploits, 167–168, 186.

pages: 372 words: 101,174

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil


Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anesthesia awareness, anthropic principle, brain emulation, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, computer age, Dean Kamen, discovery of DNA, double helix,, epigenetics, George Gilder, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, linear programming, Loebner Prize, mandelbrot fractal, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

The communists considered it to be fascist propaganda, and his sudden, unexpected death has been attributed to the secret police of the Soviet Union.4 In 1953, nearly a century after the publication of Darwin’s seminal book, American biologist James D. Watson (born in 1928) and English biologist Francis Crick (1916–2004) provided the first accurate characterization of the structure of DNA, describing it as a double helix of two long twisting molecules.5 It is worth pointing out that their finding was based on what is now known as “photo 51,” taken by their colleague Rosalind Franklin using X-ray crystallography, which was the first representation that showed the double helix. Given the insights derived from Franklin’s image, there have been suggestions that she should have shared in Watson and Crick’s Nobel Prize.6 Rosalind Franklin took the critical picture of DNA (using X-ray crystallography) that enabled Watson and Crick to accurately describe the structure of DNA for the first time.

Dahm, “Discovering DNA: Friedrich Miescher and the Early Years of Nucleic Acid Research,” Human Genetics 122, no. 6 (2008): 565–81, doi:10.1007/s00439-007-0433-0; PMID 17901982. 4. Valery N. Soyfer, “The Consequences of Political Dictatorship for Russian Science,” Nature Reviews Genetics 2, no. 9 (2001): 723–29, doi:10.1038/35088598; PMID 11533721. 5. J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick, “A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,” Nature 171 (1953): 737–38, and “Double Helix: 50 Years of DNA,” Nature archive, 6. Franklin died in 1958 and the Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA was awarded in 1962. There is controversy as to whether or not she would have shared in that prize had she been alive in 1962. 7. Albert Einstein, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” (1905). This paper established the special theory of relativity.

pages: 294 words: 85,811

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid


Berlin Wall, British Empire, double helix, employer provided health coverage, fudge factor, Kenneth Arrow, medical malpractice, profit maximization, profit motive, single-payer health, South China Sea, the payments system

Public health officials frequently point to two key discoveries, both announced in 1953, that crystallize the difference:• In February, at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University, the American biologist James Watson and the British physicist Francis Crick figured out the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. That discovery demonstrated how DNA carries and passes on each human being’s hereditary information. “We have found the secret of life,” Crick said. This wildly celebrated biological advance led to the Nobel Prize, a No.1 best seller (Watson’s memoir, The Double Helix), and the science of genomics, which may someday cure chronic diseases and spawn a new world of individualized drugs designed to save people who have a genetic disposition for a lethal illness. • In November, a German-born American doctor named Ernst L.

contact lenses Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), Canadian Cooperative Medical System, Chinese coronary bypass coronary heart disease cosmetic surgery Costa Rica Couchepin, Pascal Crawford, Amylyn Crick, Francis crimes, violent CT scans Cuba, Cuban health care as based on Beveridge Model Culbert, Heather Cyprus Czech Republic dal bhat Davies, Marcus Debs, Eugene V. Declaration of Independence Democratic Progressive Party,Taiwanese Denmark dental care depression dhami Dhanwanthari (Hindu god of healing) diabetes diet Disability-Adjusted Life Expectancy (DALE) disability-adjusted life year (DALY) DNA doctors, see providers, health care Dominica doshas Double Helix,The (Watson) Douglas,Thomas Clement drinking drugs and prescriptions in Out-of-Pocket system price of education Egypt Eisenhower, Dwight D. EKG elections, U.S. electroacupuncture elektronischen Gesundheitskarte (German smart card) Emergency Hospital Service Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA; 1986) emergency room emphysema Epstein, Richard Escuela Latinoamericana de Ciencias Médicas European Union Evans, Robert exercise eyeglasses false teeth Family Endowment Society fast food Ferlic, Donald Finland Fleming, Alexander Fleming, Kevin C.

pages: 394 words: 85,252

The New Sell and Sell Short: How to Take Profits, Cut Losses, and Benefit From Price Declines by Alexander Elder


Atul Gawande, backtesting, buy low sell high, Checklist Manifesto, double helix, impulse control, paper trading, short selling, systematic trading, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Covered Writing Question 108—The Demands of Naked Writing Question 109—Brokers Against Traders Question 110—Forex Market Question 111—Learning to Become a Better Trader Question 112—Trading Signals of the Force Index Question 113—False Breakouts and Divergences Question 114—Shorting and Covering Signals Question 115—Shorting Tactics GRADING YOUR ANSWERS PART FOUR - LESSONS OF THE BEAR MARKET CHAPTER 9 - BEARS MAKE MONEY THE BEAR WAS BEGINNING TO STIR IN ITS CAVE THE SENTIMENT INDICATORS ARE EARLY THE TOP OF THE BULL MARKET BEARISH DIVERGENCES AT THE 2007 TOP THE BUBBLE POPS: MGM SHORTING A HIGH-FLYER A BEAR MARKET IS A DESTROYER OF VALUE SWINGING IN AND OUT OF A MAJOR DOWNTREND TRADING IN A DOWNCHANNEL PREPARED FOR A SURPRISE “BULL MARKETS HAVE NO RESISTANCE AND BEAR MARKETS HAVE NO SUPPORT” FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS OR THE HOUND BARKS TWICE MR. BUFFETT BUYS TOO SOON MAY I POUR SOME GASOLINE ON YOUR FIRE? KEEP SHORTING ON THE WAY DOWN CHAPTER 10 - GROPING FOR A BOTTOM THIS STOCK MARKET IS NOT GOING DOWN TO ZERO A “DOUBLE HELIX” GIVES A BUY SIGNAL JUST IN TIME FOR THE PARTY MY FAVORITE MAJOR BOTTOM SIGNAL SELLING A BULL EVERY BULL STUMBLES A SCREAMING SHORT CONCLUSION REFERENCES Acknowledgments ABOUT THE AUTHOR WILEY TRADING SERIES Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons is the oldest independent publishing company in the United States. With offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, Wiley is globally committed to developing and marketing print and electronic products and services for our customers’ professional and personal knowledge and understanding.

And what about the weekly NH-NL? This index declined to minus 5,854—a zone that had been reached before at bear market bottoms. This reading alone does not tell us whether this is the absolute bear market bottom or just an intermediate low prior to a bear market rally. Of course, the massive bullish divergence between the bottoms 1, 2, and 3 indicated that the first option was more likely. A “DOUBLE HELIX” GIVES A BUY SIGNAL The message of this chart was unmistakable (Figure 10.2). It told traders not to panic. It signaled to cover shorts and get busy drawing our shopping lists. Whenever you look at a market using different timeframes, technical trading signals seldom emerge at the same time. Professionals have rules for dealing with this challenge, while beginners do not even recognize it and obsessional traders keep waiting for perfection until the train leaves the station.

That’s where we make strategic decisions, before turning to the dailies for shorter-term tactical timing. The daily chart of NH-NL finally caught the weekly’s tune in April, when the number of New Highs (the green line) rose above that of New Lows (the red line). Because the daily NH-NL is very sensitive, I tend to wait until its second bullish crossover before accepting it as a confirmed buy signal. Stephen Morris, a Spiker in Idaho, jokingly called this “Double helix” or “double Alex.” JUST IN TIME FOR THE PARTY These three charts of Deckers Outdoors (DECK) (Figures 10.3-Figures 10.5), along with several intraday charts omitted for the reasons of space, came recently from Steve Alcorn, a member of SpikeTrade, who wrote: “I’ve attached my diary from my very first trade, which was on March 10, 2009, the first day of the big upmove. I went long DECK, which headed upward for six weeks.

pages: 439 words: 104,154

The Clockwork Universe: Saac Newto, Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern WorldI by Edward Dolnick


Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, complexity theory, double helix, Edmond Halley, Isaac Newton, lone genius, music of the spheres, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, Simon Singh, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

He happily devoted long hours to constructing models of his solar system from colored paper and drawing plans for a version made of silver and adorned with diamonds and pearls. “No one,” he boasted, “ever produced a first work more deserving of admiration, more auspicious and, as far as its subject is concerned, more worthy.” In the decades to come Kepler would make colossal discoveries, but his pride in his elaborate geometric model never faded. Centuries later the biologist James Watson would proclaim his double helix model of DNA “too pretty not to be true.” Kepler had felt the same joy and the same certainty, but eventually the data left him no choice but to acknowledge that he had gone wrong, again. His perfect theory was only a fantasy, but it proved enormously fruitful even so. For one thing, Mystery of the Universe transformed Kepler’s career. He sent a copy of the book to Tycho Brahe, the leading astronomer of the day, who found it impressive.

But to Newton and Leibniz, the answer to Caroline’s question was simple. It made all the difference in the world. Chapter Forty-Four Battle’s End From its earliest days, science has been a dueling ground. Disputes are guaranteed, because good ideas are “in the air,” not dreamed up out of nowhere. Nearly every breakthrough—the telescope, calculus, the theory of evolution, the telephone, the double helix—has multiple parents, all with serious claims. But ownership is all, and scientists turn purple with rage at the thought that someone has won praise for stolen insights. The greats battle as fiercely as the mediocre. Galileo wrote furiously of rivals who claimed that they, not he, had been first to see sunspots. They had, he fumed, “attempted to rob me of that glory which was mine.” Even the peaceable Darwin admitted, in a letter to a colleague urging him to write up his work on evolution before he was scooped, that “I certainly should be vexed if anyone were to publish my doctrines before me.”

(Each angle of a hexagon is 120 degrees, for instance, so three or more hexagons cannot meet at one vertex.) 153 If you needed dice: Marcus du Sautoy, Symmetry (New York: Harper, 2008), p. 5. 154 He burst into tears: Caspar, Kepler, p. 63. 154 “Now I no longer regretted”: Koestler, The Sleepwalkers, p. 251. 155 “For a long time I wanted”: Owen Gingerich, “Johannes Kepler and the New Astronomy,” available at 155 He happily devoted: Koestler, The Sleepwalkers, p. 269. 155 “No one,” he boasted: Caspar, Kepler, p. 71. 155 “too pretty not to be true”: James Watson, The Double Helix (New York: Touchstone, 2001), p. 204. 156 “Never in history”: Gingerich, “Johannes Kepler and the New Astronomy,” p. 350. CHAPTER 26. WALRUS WITH A GOLDEN NOSE 157 “Would that God deliver me”: Rossi, The Birth of Modern Science, p. 70. 158 “the heavenly motions are nothing but”: Koestler, The Sleepwalkers, p. 392. 158fn Not by the human ear: Rattansi, “Newton and the Wisdom of the Ancients,” p. 189. 158fn The first person to refer: Curtis Wilson, “Kepler’s Laws, So-Called,” HAD News (newsletter of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society), no. 31, May 1994. 158 “My brain gets tired”: Giorgio de Santillana, The Crime of Galileo, p. 106fn. 159 In his student days: Ferguson, Tycho and Kepler, pp. 31–32. 160 had cost a ton of gold: Gingerich, “Johannes Kepler and the New Astronomy,” p. 350. 160 “any single instrument cost more”: Koestler, The Sleepwalkers, p. 278. 160 “I was in possession”: Ibid., p. 345.

pages: 319 words: 90,965

The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey


Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, Vannevar Bush

Because of this class, she later told me, she plans to major in chemical and biological engineering. I settled into a seat in the back row, flipped up the desk, and pulled out my study materials. After two months of watching Lander lecture, my class notebook was almost full. We had begun with the building blocks of biochemistry before proceeding on a long voyage of intellectual discovery, through Mendelian genetics, Crick and Watson’s double helix, and the modern age of biotechnology. Lander used a storyteller’s flair for drama as he worked through complex explanations of biochemistry, genetic mutation, and RNA transcription. When his tales reached a point of crucial discovery (often involving a Nobel Prize awarded to one of his MIT colleagues), you could see sparks of enthusiasm in his eyes—even from the last row. After each lecture, my fellow students and I would retreat to our laptops to tackle MIT’s famously challenging “problem sets,” exercises meant to test and solidify the knowledge we had gained in class.

Edit the dopamine molecule so it can no longer make strong hydrogen bonds. I got it wrong the first couple of times, went back to my notes, watched a portion of the lecture again, and finally nailed down the underlying principles of molecular bonding in my mind. Later in the course, we learned how the amino acids in DNA molecules fit together, and how Linus Pauling raced with Crick and Watson to discover the double helix, along with the intricate dance of transcription and translation, mismatch detection and repair. The p-sets in this part of the course used another computer program, called the “Integrative Genome Viewer,” which allowed me to see what happens when mutations alter single base pairs in a DNA sequence that can run hundreds of millions of pairs long, resulting in a new set of instructions for protein creation and sometimes disastrous consequences for the organism in question.

., 95 Craigslist, 132, 145 Credentials, academic, 6, 22, 46, 61, 182, 191–95, 200, 248 accreditation and, 117–18 admissions process and, 212 digital, 6, 186, 191–93, 199, 204, 218–19, 231, 234, 240 (see also Badges) labor market and, 185–86, 195, 197, 201, 246 personal recommendations and, 217 time-based, 48, 194, 209, 216 See also specific degrees Credit hours, 48, 194, 209, 237 Crick, Francis, 3, 70 Dark Ages, 17 Dartmouth College, 23, 79, 101, 147, 204 Davidson College, 243 Defense Department, U.S., 125, 148 Democratic Party, 42 Demosthenes, 25 Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), 2, 37, 70, 221 Dev Bootcamp, 139–41 Dickens, Charles, 17 Digital Equipment Corporation, 168 DiMaggio, Paul, 50, 117 Disney-Pixar, 208 DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: USA, 164 DNA, 2, 37, 70, 221 Doctorates, see PhDs Doerr, John, 153 Double helix, 3 Downes, Stephen, 150 Downton Abbey (television series), 217 Drucker, Peter, 107 Duke University, 140, 161 Dunster, Henry, 22, 197–99 Eaton, Nathaniel, 198 eBay, 145 Edison, Thomas, 96 Education, U.S. Department of, 9, 36, 56, 99, 157, 252 edX, 11, 143, 163, 170–72, 176–78, 214, 223, 231 certificates of course completion through, 203, 219, 233 controversy at Harvard over, 180 cost of course development for, 228 expansion of consortium of, 204, 244 forums moderated by teaching assistants on, 88 Lander’s lectures and course materials posted on, see Introduction to Biology—The Secret of Life (7.00x) process of signing up for classes on, 13 Eight-Year Study, The, 90 Einstein, Albert, 45 Elective system, 30–31, 47, 49, 54, 146, 197, 226 laissez-faire approach of, 76, 241 Eliot, Charles William, 29–32, 47, 49, 54, 65, 76, 138, 185, 239 Elite private institutions, 53–55, 134–36, 229, 241, 253 admissions process of, 161, 195, 212–13, 215, 245 high schools, 90, 195 international, 143 online sharing of resources by, 170 status competition among, 165 See also specific universities Emergence of the American University, The (Veysey), 34 Engelbart, Douglas, 122–26, 156 Engels, Friedrich, 45 Enlightenment, 26 Equifax, 200 Ericsson, K.

pages: 141 words: 46,879

River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life by Richard Dawkins


double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, job satisfaction, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, out of africa, phenotype

Boosted telephone systems, recopied tapes, photocopies of photocopies-analog signals are so vulnerable to cumulative degradation that copying cannot be sustained beyond a limited number of generations. Genes, on the other hand, can selfcopy for ten million generations and scarcely degrade at all. Darwinism works only because-apart from discrete mutations, which natural selection either weeds out or preservesthe copying process is perfect. Only a digital genetic system is capable of sustaining Darwinism over eons of geological time. Nineteen fifty-three, the year of the double helix, will come to be seen not only as the end of mystical and obscurantist views of life; Darwinians will see it as the year their subject went finally digital. The river of pure digital information. majestically flowing through geological time and splitting into three billion branches, is a powerful image. But where does it leave the familiar features of life? Where does it leave bodies, hands and feet, eyes and brains and whiskers, leaves and trunks and roots?

Ridley, Matt, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (New York: Macmillan, 1994). Sagan, Carl, Cosmos (New York: Random House, 1980). and Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (New York: Random House, 1992). Tinbergen, Nike, The Herring Gull's World (New York: Harper & Row, 1960). , Curious Naturalists (London: Penguin, 1974). Trivers, Robert, Social Evolution (Menlo Park, Calif.: BenjaminCummings, 1985). Watson, James D., The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (New York: Athenewn, 1968). Weiner, Jonathan, The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time (New York: Knopf, 1994). Wickler. Wolfgang, Mimicry in Plants and Animals, R. D. Martin, trans. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968). Williams, George C., Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Science...For Her! by Megan Amram


Albert Einstein, blood diamonds, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, double helix, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, pez dispenser, Schrödinger's Cat, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Wall-E, wikimedia commons

Genes use DNA (short for deoxyribonucleic acid, what a mouthful! And we all know what to do with mouthfuls, right, ladies? That’s right—SWALLOW!!) to transmit traits. For example, my mom is, like, totally amazing and, through DNA, I totally inherited all the best parts of her. FIG. 1.14 When a cell starts to replicate, the DNA strand (which is made of two strands curled around each other in a shape called a double helix) unzips. And if that DNA strand gains weight over the winter, maybe it will never be able to rezip again! That always happens to me over the holidays! I mean, there’s cookies, eggnog, Communion wafers—how am I not going to gain weight? Body of Christ? More like Body of Carb-st! (NOTE: I am a Jew, but I often attend Catholic Mass services to closet-eat, since none of my liberal Jew gal pals will ever catch me.

., x Chelsea, xvii chemistry, 31–61, 63, 190 of cooking, 32–35 childbirth, 23 children, 10–11 Chloe, viii Chris, xiii Christina, ix Christine, xv Christmas trees, 97–99 chromosomes, 18 Chunky Love, ix Claire, xii Claire-Marie, ix Clara, ix Class, 24 Claudia, xi climate change, 103 coal, 102 coma, 23 computers, 151 confabulating, 101 Cookies, ix cooking, 32–35 Cori, Carl Ferdinand, 174 Cori, Gerty, 174 Courtney, xiv covalent bonds, 55 cover letter, girlfriend, 134–35 cover-ups, 79, 89 Craigslist, 154 Cris, ix Cristy, ix crocus, 100 Crystal, ix Crystal Glass, ix Curie, Irene, 170 Curie, Marie, 60, 170, 173, 174 Curie, Pierre, 174 Cynthia, xv D daisy, 100 Dana, xvii Dani, xix Daniella, xviii Danielle, xiv dark matter, 72 Darwin, Charles, 26 dating, 154–59 online sites for, 154–56 Davida, viii Dawn, xv Day-Lewis, Daniel, 15 death, 20–23, 50, 51 Debbie, xv Deen, Paula, 33–35, 89 dendrology, 91–99 Denise, xviii depression, 128 Dereka, xii Deschanel, Zooey, 80 Devil Wears Prada, The (Weisberger), 119 diagnosis, 126 diamonds, 45, 102 Diana, xvii Diaz, Cameron, 15 disease, 123–26 displacement, 65 DNA, 17–18, 138 Donica, xix Donna, xvi double helix, 17 Drew, xiii driving, women and, 65–68 drugs, 90, 131–32 E Earth, 147, 150 age of, 147 earth sciences, 87–114 Eat, Pray, Love (Gilbert), 119 E. coli, 130 economics, 159–61 Edna, xvi eggs, 2–3, 18 freezing of, 157 egg whites, 34 Einstein, Albert, 75 electronic music, 162 electrons, 55 elements, 46–49, 57 Eliana, viii Elizabeth, xi Ella, ix Ellen, viii Ellie, xiii e-mail, 151 Emily, xi Emma, xi employment, 174–75 Erica, xiv Erin, xiv Eryn, xviii Esther, viii ethanol, 39 eukaryotes, 14 Eve, 28 Evelyn, x evolution, 26–28 vs. religion, 27–28 expiration dates, 130 extinction, 26 extraterrestrial life, 150 Ezri, xv F face mash, 19 Faith, xi fallopian tubes, 136 Family, 24 fats, 33 female orgasms, 107 fertilization, 3 Fifty Shades Freed (James), 119 Fifty Shades of Grey (James), 119 final exam, 190–91 floriculture, 100–101 flowers, study of, 100–101 Fluffy, xix Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 131 food poisoning, 130 formaldehyde, 45 4-vinylguaiacol, 44 Francesca, xi Franklin, Rosalind, 138 fruit salad, 34 G G., ix Gabriella, x Galileo Galilei, 75 gamma radiation emissions, 57 garden burgers, 34 gas, 56 gay-ball warming, 103 genes, 17 Genesis 4:1, 119 genetics, 16–19 Genus, 24 Getgo, ix Giana, xi Gina, xviii “gin and Drano,” 37 girlfriend cover letter, 134–35 Girls’ Guide to Fishing and Hunting, The (Bank), 119 global warming, 103–6 contributing to, 105 fashion staples for, 106 glycogen, conversion of, 174 Golda, xix Gone Girl (Flynn), 119 Goodall, Jane, 170, 173 Goodnight Moon (Brown), 111 Grace, x Gregoria, xviii gravity, 147 H H.P.T., xix Hailey, x hairspray, 105 Hamm, xi Hannah, x Harissa, xix Harper, x Heather, xiii Heidi, viii Hemings, Sally, 72 He’s Just Not That into You (Behrendt), 119 Holly, xvii homosexuality, 77 hoodies, 79 Hooke, Robert, 12 Hoover, J.

pages: 696 words: 143,736

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, fudge factor, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, information retrieval, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, the medium is the message, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

Let’s first consider the intelligent process that created us: evolution. Evolution is a master programmer. It has been prolific, designing millions of species of breathtaking diversity and ingenuity And that’s just here on Earth. The software programs have been all written down, recorded as digital data in the chemical structure of an ingenious molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. DNA was first described by J. D. Watson and E H. C. Crick in 1953 as a double helix consisting of a twisting pair of strands of polynucleotides with two bits of information encoded at each ledge of a spiral staircase, encoded by the choice of nucleotides.1 This master “read only” memory controls the vast machinery of life. Supported by a twisting sugar-phosphate backbone, the DNA molecule consists of between several dozen and several million rungs, each of which is coded with one nucleotide letter drawn from a four-letter alphabet of base pairs (adenine-thymine, thymine-adenine, cytosine-guanine, and guanine-cytosine).

How does DNA accomplish its work? These questions would be answered in 1953 by James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick.Watson and Crick wrote “The Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acid: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” published in the April 25, 1953 issue of Nature. For more information on the race by various research groups to discover the molecular structure of DNA, read Watson’s book, The Double Helix (New York: Atheneum Publishers, 1968). 2 Translation starts by unwinding a region of DNA to expose its code. A strand of messenger RNA (mRNA) is created by copying the exposed DNA base-pair codes. The appropriately named messenger RNA records a copy of a portion of the DNA letter sequence and travels out of the nucleus into the cell body There the mRNA encounters a ribosome molecule, which reads the letters encoded in the mRNA molecules and then, using another set of molecules called transfer RNA (tRNA), actually builds protein chains one amino acid at a time.

A Logical Journey: From Gödel to Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996. Warrick, Patricia S. The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980. Watanabe, Satoshi. Pattern Recognition: Human and Mechanical. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1985. Waterman, D. A. and E Hayes-Roth, eds. Pattern-Directed Inference Systems. Out of print. Watson, J. B. Behaviorism. New York: Norton, 1925. Watson, J. D. The Double Helix. New York: Atheneum, 1968. Watt, Roger. Understanding Vision. London: Academic Press, 1991. Webber, Bonnie Lynn and Nils J. Nilsson, eds. Readings in Artificial Intelligence. Los Altos, CA: Morgan Kaufmann, 1981. Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992. _________. The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe. New York: Pantheon Books, 1977.

pages: 692 words: 127,032

Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto


affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Berlin Wall, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cepheid variable, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, commoditize, cosmological constant, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dean Kamen, desegregation, double helix, energy security, Exxon Valdez, fudge factor, ghettoisation, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, mutually assured destruction, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, sharing economy, smart grid, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, University of East Anglia, War on Poverty, white flight, Winter of Discontent, working poor, yellow journalism, zero-sum game

The “inquisition tyrannies” of the church’s crackdown in response to Galileo had “dampened the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had been there written, now these many years, but flattery and fustian.”10 By the end of the seventeenth century, as Anglican clergy in London were preaching Newton’s science, Italian scientists were standing trial in Naples for stating “that there had been men before Adam composed of atoms equal to those of other animals.”11 THE DNA OF WESTERN THOUGHT Each arm of this double helix of Western Christianity—Roman Catholicism and the emerging Protestantism—embodied the two distinctly different worldviews of the authoritarian and the antiauthori-tarian: that rules and methods were either proscribed from on high or built up by individuals in consensus. These two views had always been present, but they were greatly amplified in 1517, when Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses* challenging church authorities to debate principles that seemed defensible only by virtue of the church’s authority over its subjects.

After the war, the feeling that our ability with science had outstripped our moral and ethical development as a society, perhaps as a species, was not limited to physicists, but rather was spread across the sciences. The Austrian Jewish biochemist Erwin Chargaff immigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis in 1935. His work would lead to James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. Chargaff’s autobiography described his changed feelings about science. The double horror of two Japanese city names [Hiroshima and Nagasaki] grew for me into another kind of double horror: an estranging awareness of what the United States was capable of, the country that five years before had given me its citizenship; a nauseating terror at the direction the natural sciences were going.

His early papers were extensions of the work of Max Planck, the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, and others, and his revolutionary findings on Brownian motion were independently discovered by Polish physicist Marian von Smoluchowski, who was also building on Boltzmann’s work. Hubble’s revolutionary discovery of the expansion of the universe also extended from ideas that were talked about for years. The redshift was first noted by American astronomer Vesto Slipher in 1912—nearly two decades before Hubble’s discovery. Galileo’s revolution was an extension of Copernicus’s writings of some seventy years before, which were widely discussed. The discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA was revolutionary, but it too was an extension, building on the work of biochemist Erwin Chargaff. It is true that science does not proceed linearly; it proceeds more like a pack of dogs sniffing out a fox, but that is because of its trial-and-error, observational approach that adopts whatever new tools become available, applies metaphor, builds on the latest recorded knowledge (“the literature,” as scientists call it), and makes and tests bold predictions to better see the reality of the thing instead of our prejudices or assumptions or beliefs or opinions or hopes and dreams.

pages: 469 words: 97,582

QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance by Lloyd, John, Mitchinson, John


Ada Lovelace, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, clean water, double helix, Etonian, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murano, Venice glass, out of africa, the built environment, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman, US Airways Flight 1549

What’s more, the staircase trick wouldn’t work: if a defender was left-handed then an anticlockwise staircase would indeed allow him to use his sword more effectively, but it would also give a right-handed attacker the same advantage. So, a staircase that twisted the other way would only be useful when defending against another Kerr (not impossible given their bloodthirsty reputation). The Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley has a double-helix staircase: two staircases which wind around each other so that people going up don’t bump into people coming down – and the cliff-top fortifications at Dover have a triple-helix staircase (known as the ‘Grand Shaft’) designed to get three columns of troops down to harbour level simultaneously. The most famous of all double helixes is the molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA. Francis Crick and James Watson first described its structure in 1953, although they were inspired by an X-ray photograph of DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin (1920–58), who almost beat them to it.

pages: 315 words: 93,628

Is God a Mathematician? by Mario Livio


Albert Einstein, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Brownian motion, cellular automata, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Georg Cantor, Gerolamo Cardano, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, music of the spheres, Myron Scholes, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, Russell's paradox, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, traveling salesman

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the genetic material of all cells. It consists of two very long strands that are intertwined and twisted around each other millions of times to form a double helix. Along the two backbones, which can be thought of as the sides of a ladder, sugar and phosphate molecules alternate. The “rungs” of the ladder consist of pairs of bases connected by hydrogen bonds in a prescribed fashion (adenine bonds only with thymine, and cytosine only with guanine; figure 58). When a cell divides, the first step is replication of DNA, so that daughter cells can receive copies. Similarly, in the process of transcription (in which genetic information from DNA is copied to RNA), a section of the DNA double helix is uncoiled and only one DNA strand serves as a template. After the synthesis of RNA is complete, the DNA recoils into its helix.

pages: 380 words: 104,841

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman


23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, airport security, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, Internet of things, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Masdar, mass immigration, megacity, microbiome, nuclear winter, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the High Line, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

In the meantime, as a fail-safe treasury, the vault houses millions of specimens of over four thousand different species. The second doomsday effort lives on the campus of Nottingham University, in the Frozen Ark, which stores the DNA of 48,000 individuals from 5,438 different animal species. It’s Noah’s Ark moored in Robin Hood’s backyard, and its logo is a blue sketch of an ark sailing on a double helix of ocean waves. FOR LOVE OF A SNAIL Bryan loved snails, though not all snails equally. He was especially fascinated by one turban-shaped gastropod in the genus Partula. Among partulas, he had a thing for the species Partula mooreana. Just like Darwin’s finches, drifting colonies of partulas on tiny islands became cut off from their neighbors and rapidly diversified to a surprising degree in color, size, and shell motifs.

But I like knowing that the farther back one traces any lineage the narrower the path grows, to the haunt of just a few shaggy ancestors, with luck on their side, little gizmos in their cells, and a future storied with impulses and choices that will ultimately define them. The noble goal of the Human Genome Project is to use such knowledge to find new ways to understand, treat, and cure illness. In that sense, it’s a group portrait of us as a species, realized at last, a mere fifty years after Crick, Watson, and Franklin decoded the double-helix design of DNA. The only thing more unlikely than DNA itself, nature’s blueprint for building a human being, is our ability to decode it. Thus far, it’s our greatest voyage of discovery, and we’re still scouting its spiral coves. IN NORRBOTTEN, THE northernmost province of Sweden, the reindeer outnumber humans, and shimmery green veils of northern lights spiral up from the horizon like enchanted scarves.

pages: 379 words: 108,129

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson


23andMe, Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, augmented reality, bank run, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, clean water, computer age, decarbonisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, flex fuel, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Leonard Kleinrock, life extension, Louis Pasteur, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, off grid, packet switching, peak oil, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, the scientific method, Wall-E, X Prize

If you add two long poles of sugar and salt for each line of molecular lovers to anchor themselves to (and so stand firm in their embraces) and give the whole shebang a twist, you’ll end up with something that looks like a spiralling ladder, its rungs made of adenine molecules holding on to thymine molecules and guanine molecules holding on to cytosine molecules, like billions of trapeze artists frozen in mid-clasp. There you are, then. The famous ‘double helix.’ The most famous molecule in the world. A cell’s individual hard drive. The code of life. A constantly referred-to book of recipes found in nearly every single cell that, amazingly, includes instructions to make everything in every cell. Your genome, encoded in the fêted and misunderstood ‘Deoxyribonucleic acid’ – the bane of unwitting criminals who leave it behind at crime scenes, the premise for Jurassic Park.

INDEX 23andMe 274, 297–9 42 100, 273 2001: A Space Odyssey 76, 102, 133 A Abengoa Solar 193 activated carbon 216–17 adenine 37–9, 46 aerosols 168–70 af Ekenstam, Robin 103, 104 Africa 252, 253, 302 Age of Spiritual Machines, The (Kurzweil) 274–5 agriculture 221–40, 253 Agüera y Arcas, Blaise 163 AInimals 92, 94, 96, 102–4, 105 algae 187, 210–12 Algenol Biofuels 187, 189 alleles 45, 48 Allen 83, 84 Amundsen, Roald 178 Anderson, Chris 291–5 Andrews, Lori 27 Angier, Natalie 47 Annas, George 27 Ansari X Prize for Spaceflight 135 Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation 208, 210–12 Arcadia 237–8 Arcadia (Stoppard) 281 Archer, David 177 Archon X Prize 50, 51 Aristotle 97 ARPANET 152 Art of War, The (Sun Tzu) 40–1, 51–2 artificial intelligence 73–107 Artificial Intelligence: AI 75 Asimov, Isaac 76–7 augmented reality 162–4 Augustine Commission 136 Australia climate change scepticism 168, 171 farming 221–40 Internet 157 mousepox virus 63–4 autocatalysis 270 B Bacillus subtilis 100, 273 Bacon, Francis 96–8, 99 bacteria 56–7, 61, 302 Bedau, Mark 66, 280 Bedford, James 15 Berners-Lee, Mike 169–70 Berners-Lee, Tim 154, 159 ‘Better World Shopper’ 163 Bezos, Jeff 141 BigDog 84 Bigelow, Robert 137 Billen, Abigail 31 Binney, Don 218 biochar 208–10, 212–20 biofuels 56–7, 61, 186–9, 210–12 biomass 209–10 bionics 14, 29, 301 biotechnology 35–70 bioterrorism 63–6, 68 BioTime 53–4 Birchall, Martin 20 bird flu 69–70 black carbon 169–70 Black Phantom 212–14, 219, 299, 301 Blackburn, Elizabeth 18 Blackstone Ranch 234 Blackwell, Paul 213 Blasco, Maria 18, 19 Blayney 235–7 Blenheim 210–12 blood transfusion 33 Blue Brain 90, 91 Blue Origin 141 Blundell, James 33 Bonaparte, Napoleon 146 Bongard, Josh 95 Boree Creek 237–8 Borman, Frank 135 Boston Dynamics 74–5 Bostrom, Nick 13, 17, 18, 22–31, 62, 65, 66 carbon-chauvinism 102 existential risk 63 and Kurzweil 267, 269 Bourke, Joanna 149 Brand, Stewart 108–9, 128, 270, 276 Branson, Richard 135, 141 Breazeal, Cynthia 76–82, 84–6, 90–2, 94, 101–2, 269, 277–8 Bréon, François-Marie 169 Brin, Sergey 273–4, 297 Broad Institute 40 Broecker, Wallace 173, 174, 177–86 Brooks, Rodney 76, 82, 83–4, 89, 103, 104, 105 Brown, John Seely 156, 282–3, 284–91, 292, 304 Buck, Vicki 207–8, 210–20, 288, 299 Burke, James 160, 161, 162 Burma 157 C C-3PO 76, 83, 102 cadmium 195, 196 California NanoSystems Institute 118 cancer 19, 40–1, 46–7 Candide (Voltaire) 218 carbon cycle 209 carbon dioxide (CO2) 57, 167–8, 170–1, 175–7, 186, 302 and agriculture 228–31, 233–5 biochar 209–10 biofuels 187–9 industrial uses 183–4 carbon nanotubes 110–11 carbon neutrality 243–4, 245 carbon scrubbers 179–85, 259–60, 299 Carbonscape 208, 212–20, 299, 301 carrying capacity 128–9 Castillo, Claudia 19–20, 33 Çatağay, Tolga 273 Catholic Church 106 Cave, Nick 304 Celera Genomics 36 Celsias 208 Cerf, Vint 151–64, 187, 245, 268, 283, 284, 299 Chappe, Abraham 146 Chappe, Claude 146 Chappe, René 146 charcoal 208–10, 212–20 chess 82, 83, 86 China 157, 200 Chomsky, Noam 303 chromosomes 44, 45–6 Chu, John 155 Chui, Alex 15 Church, George biofuels 57, 211 bioterrorism 63, 65–6 genome engineering 52, 56, 60–3, 64, 70, 105, 186–7, 203 genome sequencing 50–1 human genome project 35 human machines 89 IVF 106 and Lackner, Klaus 189 licensing 66–7 Personal Genome Project 36–7, 39, 41–50, 273, 299, 300, 301 Ćirković, Milan 65 cities 250, 252–3 Claramunt, Xavier 137 climate change 143, 164, 167–72, 174–7, 208 and agriculture 228–31, 233–5 Maldives 241–9, 256–62 Northwest Passage 178 Clinton, Bill 35–6 clouds 169 Cobar 231–5 Collins, Mike 135 Collins, Paul 192 Columbia University Medical Center 31 Columbus, Christopher 303 Comer, Gary 177, 178 Commercial Spaceflight Federation 138 Complete Genomics 51 Connections 160 Consortium for Polynucleotide Synthesis 68 Copenhagen Accord 256 Cornell University 93–6, 98–101, 210 158 Coughlan, Anna 221–2, 239–40 Coughlan, Michael 221–2, 239–40 ‘Couldn’t Be Done’ (Tim Finn) 208 Crichton, Michael 122 cryonics 15–16 Cuba 157 cytosine 37–9, 46 D dance 155 De Cari, Gioia 262 de Grey, Aubrey 14, 16, 17–18, 21, 34 ‘Death Clock’ 12–13 deductive reason 97 Deep Blue 82–3 del Cardayré, Stephen 61 Desertec Industrial Initiative 193 Deutsche Bank 193 diatoms 117–18 diesel 56–7 Dijkstra, Edsger 82 DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) 38–9, 40, 297–8 naked 46 nanotechnology 113, 119–20 Parkinson’s disease 273–4 Door into Summer (Heinlein) 142 double helix 38 double pendulum 98–9 Dragon 136 Drexler, Eric 109–17, 125, 127–30, 286, 287, 299, 300 critics 123–4 Grey Goo 121–3 and Kurzweil 268, 269 E E. coli 56–7, 61, 64 E85 cars 188 EasyJet 20 education 284–5, 288 Egypt 157 Ehrenreich, Barbara 303 Eigler, Donald 113, 125 Einhorn, Thomas 31 Einstein, Albert 140 Eisenberger, Peter 184 electricity 285–6 Eliza 86–7 Ember, Carol 147 enhancement 26–9 Endy, Drew 66 energy 191–2, 193–5, 202, 204 fossil fuels 168, 191–2, 193, 302 solar 190–1, 192–3, 195–205, 206, 274, 295, 302 Engines of Creation (Drexler) 109, 110–11, 115, 121, 122, 123, 127–8, 300 Enlightenment 267 Enriquez, Juan 33, 278–82, 293 Eros (Asteroid) 134 Estep, Preston 16 ethanol 187 Ethiopia 199, 200 Etiwanda Station 231–5 Eureqa 101 evolution 70, 105, 279–80, 281–2 existential risk 63 Exxon Mobil 56 EZ-Rocket 142 F Falcon 9 136 farming 221–40, 253 Feynman, Richard 112, 113 Finn, Tim 208 Flannery, Tim 215 flu 64–5, 69–70 Følling’s disease 44, 58 foot-and-mouth disease 68–9 forests 253–4 Forster, E.

pages: 385 words: 105,627

The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by Simon Winchester


Berlin Wall, British Empire, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Etonian, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of gunpowder, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, New Urbanism, Ralph Waldo Emerson, stakhanovite, Stephen Hawking, Ted Kaczynski, trade route

Needham decided to wear his long blue Chinese gown, the color blue having been regarded in imperial days in China as recognition of a high level of achievement, matching the high level of achievement in Britain that was suggested by the portrait itself. The older portraits under which members of the college dine are of ruffled, velvet-clad divines; Needham is among the more recent, and above him in his eastern getup are stained-glass windows depicting, not people, but the actual achievements made by other Caians—a colored-glass Venn diagram, and a delicately rendered double helix of DNA, conceptualized by Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, and Caius College’s Francis Crick. Needham’s retirement from the mastership came in 1976, and with it came the beginnings of a slow and steady downward spiral. For the first time Needham was beginning to realize—and, moreover, to admit—that he might not manage to cover the entirety of Chinese science within the limits of his lifetime.

., 53, 54, 57, 164 Cullen, Christopher, 251 Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), 231, 234, 235 names given to children during, 40n.7 Czechoslovakia, “Prague Spring” in (1968), 231 Dadu River, 85, 186 Daily Worker (Britain), 57 Daoism, 191, 192 Daquan River, 129 Darwinism, 13, 14 Deng Xiaoping (Chinese Communist leader), 237 Diamond Sutra, 101–2, 131, 138–39 Dictionary of National Biography (DNB), 230n.51 Diebold, John, 248, 249 dinosaur fossil Lufengosaurus, 156 DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), double helix model of, 240 Dong Zhongshu, 168 Driberg, Tom, 233 Dujiangyan irrigation project, 108, 109 Dunhuang oasis and caves, 101, 102, 105, 128–32, 134–39 East Asian History of Science trust, 243–44 Eden, Anthony, 56 Eggleston, Frederick, 87 elements, five Chinese, 168 Elers, Peter, 233 Ellis, Havelock, 32 Emblica officinalis, 155 encyclopedia, imperial Chinese, 176–77 English Gymnosophist Society, 22 Epidemic Prevention Bureau, Lanzhou, China, 122 erotic texts, Chinese Daoist, 192 explorations, Chinese seagoing, 186, 194 extraterritoriality as legal concept, 72n.14 Far Eastern Survey, 228 Far East War Council, 54 Fessel, Klaus, 196 Fire-Drake Manual, The 199 Fisher, Ronald, 179–80 fishing reel, Chinese, 186 Fitch, James, 196 Foot, Dingle, 32 foot-binding practice in China, 119–20 Forster, E.

pages: 338 words: 92,385

NeoAddix by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

8-hour work day, double helix, pirate software, Silicon Valley, stealth mode startup, stem cell

Digitized somewhere, gathering the binary equivalent of dust in a C3N CySat databank. While Maxine slept, tonight’s news was happening closer to home, down on the banks of the River Seine, where time froze and then stopped for Parisian tramp Louis Lepan as steel fingernails reached for his throat. For once the dim starlight was not washed out by the glare of Coca Cola’s revolving hologram, nor by the neon cross & double helix of the Church Geneticist. Communard terrorists had blown up the Rue Jacob substation, leaving darkness. The Prince smiled, an old man’s grin. He at least welcomed that night’s power cut… Spearing quickly through krycoid cartilage, the Prince’s fingers closed on the gnarled, stick-like column of the tramp’s upper spine and snapped it like a twig. Lepan dropped, a twitching heap of filthy rags, his opened throat bright as a scarf whose ends flowed over the cobbles, melting frost as they went.

Johnnie knew that, because he’d had time to watched it happen before the surgery’s wall-mounted flat screen Toshiba exploded in the heat, showing him with shards of crystal polycarbon. Once free of the slab, he’d grabbed a blue scrub suit to cover his frozen body and decided to get out of there, fast. The fire fighters weren’t a problem, they parted respectfully enough when they spotted the cross and double helix on his borrowed scrub suit, hustling him out to the safety of the open courtyard. Johnnie was actually safely out through the main gate into the teeming crowd outside when the first police hover screamed towards him along Rashid Street, loudspeaker blaring. As the crowd around him thinned like wind-blown smoke, Johnnie found himself briefly outlined in the halogen beam of a police searchlight and tumbled sideways on instinct, rolling safely back inside the courtyard as a slug of recycled rubber whistled over his head.

pages: 410 words: 101,260

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, availability heuristic, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Firefox, George Santayana, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, Network effects, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, women in the workforce

When companies run suggestion boxes, there is evidence that older employees tend to submit more ideas and higher-quality ideas than their younger colleagues, with the most valuable suggestions coming from employees older than fifty-five. And in technology startups that have raised venture capital funding, the average founder is thirty-eight. In the arts and sciences, Chicago economist David Galenson shows that although we’re quick to remember the young geniuses who peak early, there are plenty of old masters who soar much later. In medicine, for every James Watson, who helped to discover the double helix structure of DNA at age twenty-five, there is a Roger Sperry, who identified different specializations between the right and left hemispheres of the brain at age forty-nine. In film, for every Orson Welles, whose masterpiece Citizen Kane was his very first feature film at age twenty-five, there is an Alfred Hitchcock, who made his three most popular films three decades into his career, at ages fifty-nine (Vertigo), sixty (North by Northwest), and sixty-one (Psycho).

And in an independent study of every physicist who has ever won the Nobel Prize, of the young geniuses under thirty, exactly half were conceptual innovators who did theoretical work. Among the old masters forty-five and above, 92 percent did experimental work. These fundamental differences between conceptual and experimental innovators explain why some originals peak early and others bloom late. Conceptual innovation can be done quickly, because it doesn’t require years of methodical investigation. When Watson and Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA, they didn’t need to wait for data to amass. They had built a three-dimensional theoretical model and examined X-ray images provided by Rosalind Franklin. In addition, conceptual breakthroughs tend to occur early, because it is easiest to come up with a strikingly original insight when we approach a problem with a fresh perspective. “Conceptual innovators normally make their most important contributions to a discipline not long after their first exposure to it,” Galenson finds.

pages: 137 words: 36,231

Information: A Very Short Introduction by Luciano Floridi


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, carbon footprint, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Internet of things, invention of writing, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, Pareto efficiency, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, RFID, Thomas Bayes, Turing machine, Vilfredo Pareto

But it was only in the 19th century that Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), the founder of genetics, showed that phenotypes are passed on, from one generation to the next, through what were later called genes. In 1944, in a brilliant book based on a series of lectures, entitled What Is Life?, the physics Nobel laureate Erwin Schrodinger (1887-1961) outlined the idea of how genetic information might be stored. He explicitly drew a comparison with the Morse alphabet. In 1953, James Watson (born 1928) and Francis Crick (1916-2004) published their molecular model for the structure of DNA, the famous double helix, one of the icons of contemporary science. Crick explicitly acknowledged his intellectual debt to Schrodinger's model. In 1962, Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins (1916-2004) were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine `for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material'. Information had become one of the foundational ideas of genetics.

pages: 1,396 words: 245,647

The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, gravity well, Henri Poincaré, invention of radio, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Murray Gell-Mann, period drama, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, strikebreaker, University of East Anglia

The directorship of the Cavendish passed to the crystallographer Sir Lawrence Bragg, who steered the laboratory away from studies of the innermost structure of matter, partly because it could no longer keep up with the competition from the United States. With Rutherford’s passing, the Cavendish had seen the last of its glory days as a place where experimenters probed atoms with the finest possible probes, though Bragg steered the laboratory’s agenda into productive territory, culminating in Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953. By the end of 1937, Dirac was bereft of the company of experimenters with similar interests in physics, and some of his most valued colleagues among the Cambridge theoreticians were in decline. Following a debilitating stroke, Fowler’s health was failing, and, by early 1939, he had ‘faded out’, as he told Eddington.43 In the sometimes gory seminars in the mathematics department, Eddington was timorous and unable to defend himself against pillory by his younger colleagues.

Rubenstein (eds), Understanding Autism: From Basic Neuroscience to Treatment, New York: Taylor & Francis, pp. 175–204. Wali, K. C. (1991) Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press. Walters, B. (1970) How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc. Warwick, A. (2003) Masters of Theory: Cambridge and the Rise of Mathematical Physics, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press. Watson, J. D. (1980) The Double Helix, ed. G. S. Stent, New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Wattenberg, A. (1984) ‘December 2, 1942: The Event and the People’, in R. G. Sachs (ed.), The Nuclear Chain Reaction: Forty Years Later, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, pp. 43–53. Weart, S. and Weiss Szilard, G. (eds) (1978) Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Weinberg, S. (2002) ‘How Great Equations Survive’, in G.

D. ceremony 1 lack of employment 1, 2, 3, 4 chauffeurs her father to and from work 1 forced to sell her car 1 family radio 2 and her parents’ marriage crisis 1 degree studies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 goes to Lourdes with her father 1 supports her parents 1 moves to London to become a secretary 1, 2 in Budapest 1, 2 possible reason for her parents’ failed marriage 1, 2n11 marries Joe Teszler 1 lives in Amsterdam 1 birth of son 1 in the Second World War 1, 2, 3 stays in Cambridge 1 her suffering in Budapest 1 birth of daughter 1 relationship with Manci 1, 2 in Alicante 1 stroke 1 Dirac, Charente, France 1 Dirac, Charles (PD’s father) 1, 2, 3, 4 birth (in Monthey, Switzerland) 1 childhood 1 education 1 in London 1 teaches at Merchant Venturers’ Secondary School 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 settles in Bristol 1, 2 appearance 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 personality 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 meets Florence Holten 1, 2 and religion 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 marries Flo 1, 2 insistence on his children speaking French 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 champions Esperanto in Bristol 1 relationship with PD 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 careful with money 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 work ethic 1, 2, 3, 4 effects of his rigorous educational regime at home 1 tyranny of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 his favourite child 1, 2, 3 forces Felix to study engineering instead of medicine 1, 2 deceptions by 1, 2 acquires British nationality 1, 2 efforts to send PD to Cambridge 1, 2, 3 helps PD financially 1, 2, 3, 4 interest in PD’s career 1, 2, 3, 4 family radio 1 deeply affected by the death of Felix 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 death of his mother 1 attends PD’s Ph.D. ceremony 1 letters to his ‘only son’ 115, 1 vegetarianism 1, 2 PD continues to feel intimidated by 1 and PD’s FRS election 1, 2 retirement 1, 2 infidelity 1, 2, 3 marriage crisis 1, 2, 3, 4 loses his grip on his family 1 continues to teach from home 1, 2 plans to visit Geneva 1 rediscovery of his childhood Catholicism 1 visits Geneva with Betty 1 Flo attacks in the Swedish press 1 tries to understand PD’s work 1, 2 goes to Lourdes 1 ill with pleurisy 1 serial tax evader 1 PD blames him for Felix’s suicide 1 ‘loathed’ by PD 1, 2n45 death and funeral 1 his estate 1 gravestone 1 Dirac, Felix (PD’s brother) 1, 2 birth 1 names 1n16 appearance 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6n32 education 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 34, 9 childhood in Bristol 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 bullied by his father 1, 2 personality 1, 2, 3 rift with PD 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 forced to study engineering instead of medicine 1 student apprenticeship in Rugby 1, 2 based near Wolverhampton 1, 2 a draughtsman 1 Buddhism and astrology 1 acquires a girlfriend 1 settles in Birmingham 1 volunteers for the Ambulance Corps 1 leaves his job at a machine-testing laboratory 1 personality 1, 2, 3 suicide 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9n7 the family’s response to his death 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 memorial service and inquest 1 gravestone 1 Dirac, Florence (née Holten; PD’s mother) 1, 2, 3, 4 first meets Charles 1, 2 appearance 1, 2 personality 1, 2, 3 absent-minded 1, 2 and religion 1 correspondence with Charles 1, 2 marries Charles 1 birth of Felix 1 birth of Paul 1 poem about PD 1, 2n49 Paul as her favourite child 1, 2 and Charles’s deception 1 correspondence with PD 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9n29 fears competition for PD’s affections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 asks PD for money 1, 2, 3 and the death of Felix 1 poetry 1, 2, 3n16, 4n34, 5n49, 6n15, 7n49 interest in politics 1, 2 attends PD’s Ph.D. ceremony 1 worried about PD’s emaciated appearance 1 evening classes 1, 2, 3, 4n17 admits her unhappiness 1, 2, 3 housework, dislike of 1, 2 PD pays for a diamond ring 1, 2 PD’s visits home 1, 2 visits PD in Cambridge 1 and PD’s visits to Russia 1, 2 opposes the idea of a woman prime minister 1 fussing over PD 1 and PD’s FRS election 1 dreads Charles’s retirement 1 the charade of her marriage 1, 2 affinity with the sea 1, 2; see also Richard Holten (her father) marriage crisis 1, 2, 3, 4 Mediterranean cruises 1, 2, 3 at PD’s Nobel Prize ceremony 1, 2 at Bohr’s party in Copenhagen 1, 2 and Charles’s pleurisy 1 meets Manci 1 disputes with Manci 1, 2 in the Second World War 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 death and funeral 1 Dirac, Gabriel (PD’s step-son) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13n26 Dirac, Gisela 1 Dirac, Judy (PD’s step-daughter) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Dirac, Louis (PD’s paternal grandfather) 1, 2n10 Dirac, Margit (Manci; née Wigner; PD’s wife) 1, 2, 3, 4 meets PD 1 personality 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and PD’s talk of his unhappy childhood 1, 2 on her first marriage and divorce 1, 2 and religion 1, 2, 3 a keen follower of the arts 1, 2, 3 pursuit of PD 1, 2 PD visits her in Budapest 1, 2 Isabel Whitehead’s assessment 1 PD’s proposal of marriage 1 marriage and honeymoon 1 relationship with Betty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ‘Wigner’s sister’ appellation 1, 2n17 settles in Cambridge 1 in the Soviet Union 1 pregnancies 1, 2, 3, 4n10 as an alien in wartime England 1 and air raids on Cambridge 1 Flo helps with housework 1 orders Judy out of the house 1 and the Nazi concentration camps 1 complains about the exodus from Cambridge 1 scorns Heisenberg 1 in Princeton 1 and politics 1, 2 marriage under strain 1, 2, 3 a better wife than mother 1 and disappearance of Judy 1, 2 worsening arthritis 1, 2 and PD’s decision to move to Florida State University 1 at Florida State 1, 2, 3 Jewish and occasionally anti-Semitic 1, 2n16 as a hostess 1, 2 fraught relationship with Halpern 1, 2, 3 PD’s death and funeral 1 lively and active for ten years after PD’s death 1 letter from Hillary Rodham Clinton 1 death 1 Dirac, Mary (PD’s daughter; later Colleraine, then Tilley) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 birth 1 childhood 1, 2, 3 personality 1 education 1 emigration to the USA 1, 2 Dirac, Monica (PD’s daughter) 1, 2 birth 1 childhood 1, 2, 3, 4 personality 1 at PD’s commemoration 1 Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice LIFE STORY birth (8 August 1902) 1 appearance and dress sense 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28n32 digestive problems 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 foresees the existence of the positron 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 childhood in Bristol 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 relationship with his father 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 nicknamed ‘Tiny’ 10, 1 school education 1, 2, 3 visits Switzerland 1, 2 Bristol accent 1, 2, 3, 4, 5n36 and technical drawing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6n44 handwriting 1, 2, 3 his mother’s favourite 1, 2 rift with Felix 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 engineering degree 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 public impact of relativity theory 1 trainee engineer in Rugby 1, 2 applied maths degree studies 1 and projective geometry 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 wins scholarships to St John’s College, Cambridge 1 supervision by Fowler 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Charles helps him financially 1 arrives at Cambridge 1 manner at the dinner table 1, 2 attends Eddington’s lectures 1 Blackett and Kapitza become his closest friends 1 and Soviet ideology 1, 2, 3 and his mother’s possessiveness 1 first academic papers 1, 2 Felix’s death 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 first great epiphany 1 first paper on quantum mechanics 1, 2 Ph.D. thesis 1 combines logic and intuition 1, 2 as ‘the strangest man’ (Bohr) 1 successful period in Copenhagen 1, 2, 3 in Göttingen 1, 2, 3 friendship with Oppenheimer 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 his visits home 1, 2, 3, 4 elected Fellow of St John’s College 1 his rooms in college 1 makes his most famous contribution to science 1 relationship with Isabel Whitehead 1 first visit to Russia 1 reductionism 1 first visit to US 1, 2 elected Fellow of the Royal Society 1, 2n10 buys his first car 1 represented in a special version of Faust 1, 2 Lucasian Chair 1, 2, 3, 4 Wittgenstein, opinion of 1 and moral philosophy 1 works with Kapitza in his laboratory 1, 2 last meeting with Ehrenfest 1 Nobel Prize for physics 1, 2, 3n20 first public comment on social and economic affairs 1 smitten with Rho Gamow 1, 2 first meets Manci 1 campaign for Kapitza’s release 1, 2, 3, 4 sends the Gamows a baby alligator 1, 2n43 guardian of Kapitza’s sons 1, 2 graduate supervisor 1 proposes to Manci 1 marriage and honeymoon 1 first love letter 1 wants his own children 1, 2n23 refuses Princeton’s job offer 1, 2n50 Scott lecture 1 offered war work 1 Baker Medal 1 and the death of his mother 1 refused a visa for the Soviet Union 1, 2n46 declines honours 1, 2 refused a US visa 1, 2 visits India 1 jaundice 1, 2n37 marriage under strain 1, 2 marginalised in Cambridge 1, 2, 3 emigration to US 1, 2, 3 Scientific American article (1963) 1, 2n10 Horizon interview (1965) 1, 2n11 quarks, likes concept of 1 decision to move to Florida State University 1 routine at Florida State 1 busts and paintings of PD 1 accepts the Order of Merit 1 visits CERN 1 flies on Concorde 1 sees his life as a failure 1 surgery on tubercular kidney 1 death (20 October 1984) 1, 2n17 funeral 1, 2n19 commemoration in Westminster Abbey 1 centenary of his birth 1, 2 possible autism 1 names 1n16 memorial stone 490n27 PERSONALITY – aloofness 1, 2, 3 – confident 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – defensiveness 1, 2 – determination 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – diffidence 1, 2 – equability 1 – frugality 1 – inhibition 1 – lack of social sensitivity 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 – literal-mindedness 1, 2, 3, 4, 5n44 – modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – narrow-mindedness 1 – objectivity 1 – obsession with taking long walks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17n28, 18n46 – otherworldiness 1, 2, 3, 4 – passivity 1 – physical ineptitude 1, 2 – private enthusiasms 1, 2 – reticence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – rigid pattern of activities 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – self-centredness 1, 2, 3 – shyness 1, 2, 3 – stubborness 1, 2, 3 – taciturnity 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – top-down thinker 1, 2, 3 – verbal economy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 – work ethic 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 INTERESTS, APTITUDES AND OPINIONS – beauty, mathematical, fascination with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 – board games and mathematical puzzles, enjoyment of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9n6 – driver, skills as a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – fondness for Mickey Mouse films 1, 2, 3, 4n5 – food, tastes and appetite 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14n6, – gardening 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7n33 – Hamiltonian approach to mechanics, strong belief in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – jokes, appreciation of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7n10 – lecturer, skills as a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16n11 – mountain-climbing 1, 2, 3, 4 – philosophy, opinion of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – relativity, fascination with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 – religion, opinions about 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9n45, – renormalisation, distaste for and dislike of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 – swimming 1, 2, 3 – team games and teams, aversion to participation in 1, 2, 3 – technology of space flight, interest in 1, 2, 3 – top-down thinking 1, 2, 3 – tree-climbing 1, 2, 3n17 CONTRIBUTIONS TO PHYSICS AND MATHEMATICS – action principle in quantum mechanics 1, 2, 3, 4 – antimatter, foresees, see also positron and antiproton 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – anti-electron predicts, see positron – anti-proton, predicts 1 – blackbody radiation spectrum derived 1 – bra and ket notation 1 – classical theories of the electron 1, 2 – cosmology, thoughts on 1, 2, 3, 4 – density matrix 1 – delta function 1, 2n20 – Dirac equation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 n30, – Dirac sea 1, 2 – dispersion theory 1 – ether, post-Einstein view of 1 – Fermi-Dirac statistics 1, 2, 3 – general relativity, Hamiltonian formulation of 1, 2, 3 – gravity, weakening of – postulates, see also large numbers hypothesis 1 – high-spin theory 1 – hole theory 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21n7 – indefinite metric 1 – jet-stream method of isotope separation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – Kapitza-Dirac effect 1, 2, 3, 4, 5n27 – large numbers hypothesis 1, 2, 3, 4, 5n13 – magnetic monopole 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8n5, 9n48 – many-times formulation of quantum electrodynamics by PD, Fock and Podolsky 1, 2n25 – neutron diffusion in matter, theory of 1, 2 – non-commutation in quantum mechanics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6n11 – parity violation, foresees possibility of 1 – philosophy of physical science 1, 2, 3 – Poisson bracket in quantum mechanics 1 – positron, prediction of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13n34 – principle of mathematical beauty 1, 2 – quantum electrodynamics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21n25 – quantum field theory, co-discovery see quantum electrodynamics 1 – quantum mechanics of heavy atoms 1 – quantum mechanics, later contributions 1, 2, 3 – Schrödinger equation (time dependent), independent discovery by PD 1 – sphere, quantum-relativistic treatment of 1, 2 – spinors 1 – string concept in quantum electrodynamics 1, 2 – transformation theory 1 – vacuum polarisation 1 – virtual states 1 THE ARTS, TASTE AND APPRECIATION OF – art (visual) 1, 2, 3, 4, – cinema 1, 2, 3 – comics and comic characters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10n6, 11n5 – music 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7n15 – novels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – poetry 1, 2, 3 – radio and television, appreciation of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 – theatre and opera 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 BOOKS – General Theory of Relativity 1 – Principles of Quantum Mechanics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10n49 Dirac, unofficial unit of frequency of speech 1 Dirac, Walla (PD’s paternal grandmother) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5n16 ‘Dirac stories’ 120, 1, 2, 3 DNA, double-helix structure of 1 Dneproges hydroelectric power station 1 Dobb, Maurice 1 Dostoevsky, Fyodor: Crime and Punishment 1 Douglas’ Works, Kingswood 1n16 Dublin 1 Dublin conference (1942) 1 Durango, Colorado 1 Duranty, Walter 1 Dutton, S. T.: Social Phases of Education in the School and the Home 1 Dyson, Freeman 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6n31, 7n11, 8n6, 9n13, 10n45 Eddington, Sir Arthur 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 mathematician and astronomer 1, 2 understanding of relativity theory 1 solar-eclipse experiments 1, 2, 3, 4 on Einstein’s E = mc2 equation 1 introduces PD to relativity 1 appearance 1 personality 1, 2 mathematical approach to science 1 and Rutherford 1 congratulates PD on his Ph.D. thesis 1 and the splitting of the atom 1 media savvy 1 pilloried by his younger colleagues 1 and nuclear energy 1, 2n60 disagreement with PD 1 Dublin conference (1942) 1 death 1 The Mathematical Theory of Relativity 1n20 The Nature of the Physical World 1 Space, Time and Gravitation 1 Edward VII, King 1 Ehrenfest, Paul 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Ehrenhaft, Felix 1n48 Einstein, Albert 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18n20 personality 1 most successful spurt of creativity 1 appearance 1, 2 studies Mill’s System of Logic 1 E = mc2 equation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Planck’s blackbody radiation spectrum formula 1 and solar eclipse results 1 light quanta idea 1 and Bohr 1 and Heisenberg’s theory of 1925 1 suspicious of the new quantum mechanics 1, 2 top-down approach to physics 1 on PD 1, 2 stimulated emission process and the laser 1 attacks Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle 1 differs from PD in his approach to science 1 praises PD’s textbook 1 at the 1930 Solvay Conference 1 despises Hitler 1 Nazis’ view of his ‘Jewish physics’ 1 and the photon 1 and the splitting of the atom 1 flees from Germany to the USA 1, 2 at Princeton 1, 2, 3, 4 and Kapitza’s detention 1, 2 dislike of quantum electrodynamics 1 treats Heisenberg with contempt 1 Hoover’s campaign against 1 suggests the existence of a positive electron 1 in search of generalisations 1 death 1 centenary of his birth 1, 2 ‘Electron and General Relativity’ 1n34 see also relativity Eisenhower, Dwight D. 1 electrical charge 1, 2 electromagnetic interaction 1 electromagnetism 1 laws of 1, 2 Maxwell’s theory 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 PD’s magnetic monopole theory 1 electron-positron pairs 1, 2 electrons bare 1, 2 behaving as discrete particles 1 Cavendish annual dinner, toast to 1 describing behaviour of a single, isolated electron 1 diffraction by light 1, 2 Dirac equation 1, 2, 3 discovered by J.

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil


additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business intelligence,, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

Robert Waterston quoted in "Scientists Reveal Complete Sequence of Human Genome," CBC News, April 14, 2003, 5. See chapter 2, note 57. 6. The original reports of Crick and Watson, which still make compelling reading today, may be found in James A. Peters, ed., Classic Papers in Genetics (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1959). An exciting account of the successes and failures that led to the double helix is given in J. D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (New York: Atheneum, 1968). has a collection of Crick's papers available online at 7. Morislav Radman and Richard Wagner, "The High Fidelity of DNA Duplication," Scientific American 259.2 (August 1988): 40–46. 8. The structure and behavior of DNA and RNA are described in Gary Felsenfeld, "DNA," and James Darnell, "RNA," both in Scientific American 253.4 (October 1985), p. 58–67 and 68–78 respectively. 9.

Life's Computer In the very early stages of evolution information was encoded in the structures of increasingly complex organic molecules based on carbon. After billions of years biology evolved its own computer for storing and manipulating digital data based on the DNA molecule. The chemical structure of the DNA molecule was first described by J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick in 1953 as a double helix consisting of a pair of strands of polynucleotides.6 We finished transcribing the genetic code at the beginning of this century. We are now beginning to understand the detailed chemistry of the communication and control processes by which DNA commands reproduction through such other complex molecules and cellular structures as messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and ribosomes. At the level of information storage the mechanism is surprisingly simple.

pages: 660 words: 213,945

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson


Colonization of Mars, double helix, gravity well, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Well, the cable’s pretty much unbreakable,” Steve replied. “You broke the cable?” Yeli exclaimed. “Well, no, we separated the cable from Clarke, is what we did. But the effect is the same. That cable is on its way down.” The group cheered again, somewhat more weakly. Steve explained to the travelers over the noise, “The cable itself was pretty much impervious, it’s graphite whisker with a diamond sponge-mesh gel double-helixed into it, and they’ve got smart pebble defense stations every hundred kilometers, and security on the cars that was intense. So Arkady suggested we work on Clarke itself. See, the cable goes right through the rock to the factories in the interior, and the actual end of it was physically as well as magnetically bonded to the rock of the asteroid. But we landed with a bunch of our robots in a shipment of stuff from orbit, and dug into the interior and placed thermal bombs outside the cable casing, and around the magnetic generator.

The impact zone was never anything but a moving white blob, like a flaw in the tape; no video was capable of registering such illumination. But as the montage continued the images had been slowed down and processed in every way possible, and one of these processed images was the final clip, an ultra-slow motion shot in which one could see details that would have been impossible to spot live. And so they could see that as the line had crossed the sky, the burning graphite had stripped away first, leaving an incandescent double helix of diamond, flowing majestically out of a sunset sky. All a gravestone, of course, the people on it already dead at that point, burned away; but it was hard to think of them when the image was so utterly strange and beautiful, a vision of some kind of fantasy DNA, DNA from a macroworld made of pure light, plowing into our universe to germinate a barren planet. . . . Nadia stopped watching the TV, moved into the copilot’s seat to help spot the other plane.

Clouds of smoke were surging up into the predawn sky over west Tharsis, pouring so high that they got up out of the shadow of the planet and were lit by the rising sun; they were mushroom clouds, their heads a bright pale pink, their dark gray stalks illuminated by reflection from above. Slowly the sunlight moved down the tumultuous stalks, until they were all burnished by the new morning sun. Then the lofty line of yellow and pink mushroom clouds drifted across a sky that was a delicate shade of indigo pastel: it looked like a Maxfield Parrish nightmare, too strange and beautiful a sight to believe. Nadia thought of the cable’s last moment, that image of the incandescent double helix of diamonds. How was it that destruction could be so beautiful? Was there something in the scale of it? Was there some shadow in people, lusting for it? Or was it just a coincidental combination of the elements, the final proof that beauty has no moral dimension? She stared and stared at the image, focused all her will on it; but she could not make it make sense. “That may be enough particulate matter to trigger another global dust storm,” Sax observed.

pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise

, Transactions of the Newcomen Society (2005). Something similar had arisen during the controversy over the John Harrison chronometers. The whole question of ‘scientific priority’ has become a major preoccupation in modern science. See for example the race over the structure of DNA between Crick and Watson at Cambridge, and Rosalind Franklin at Imperial College, as described in James Watson’s classic The Double Helix (1968) and Brenda Maddox’s biography Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA (2002). Carl Djerassi’s play Oxygen (2001) beautifully dramatises an earlier eighteenth-century priority dispute between Priestley, Scheele and Lavoisier. 9 Sorcerer and Apprentice 1 Sir Joseph Banks had been getting older and more infirm, and he hated it. After one particularly bad episode of gout in summer 1816, when he was seventy-three, he grumbled from his retreat at Spring Grove: ‘I fear its probable that I shall be obliged to spend the greater part of my Future Life in a Prostrate Posture…For these 12 or 14 years past my legs have Swelled towards evening…I am so effectually confined to my bed that I am not even allowed to be carried downstairs & placed on a Coach.’

A later edition of the poem was superbly illustrated with William Blake’s watercolour engravings, a consolation for those terrified by the new cosmology. Bibliography The Bigger Picture (In chronological order of publication) Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago UP, 1962-70 Albert Bettex, The Discovery of Nature (with 482 illustrations), Thames & Hudson, 1965 James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, 1968/2001 Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation, Danube edition, 1969 Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, 1973 Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin, Penguin, 1992 Lewis Wolpert, The Unnatural Nature of Science, Faber, 1992 James Gleick, Richard Feynman and Modern Physics, Pantheon Books, 1992 Michael J. Crowe, Modern Theories of the Universe from Herschel to Hubble, Chicago UP, 1994 Gale Christianson, Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995 Peter Whitfield, The Mapping of the Heavens, The British Library, 1995 John Carey (editor), The Faber Book of Science, Faber, 1995 Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: Volume I: Voyaging, and Volume 2: The Power of Place, Pimlico, 1995 and 2000 Michael Shortland and Richard Yeo, Telling Lives in Science: Essays in Scientific Biography, CUP, 1996 Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, 1996 Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present, HarperCollins, 1997 John Gascoigne, Science in the Service of Empire, CUP, 1998 Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, Allen Lane, Penguin Press, 1998 Lisa Jardine, Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution, Little, Brown, 1999 Jonathan Bate, The Song of the Earth, Picador, 2000 Ludmilla Jordanova, Defining Features: Scientific and Medical Portraits 1660-2000, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2000 Patricia Fara, Newton: The Making of Genius, Macmillan, 2000 Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routledge, 2001 Thomas Crump, A Brief History of Science as Seen Through the Development of Scientific Instruments, Constable, 2001 Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, Picador, 2001 Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann, Oxygen (a play in 2 acts), Wiley, New York, 2001 Anne Thwaite, Glimpses of the Wonderful: The Life of P.H.

.), 451 Vesuvius: Davy visits, 356, 358, 378, 381 Victoria, Queen: takes chloroform during childbirth, 284 Vineyard Nurseries, Hammersmith, 11 Vitalism (Life Force), xix, 307, 309-18, 321-3, 325, 327, 354, 356, 421, 428, 431 Volta, Alessandro, 173, 295, 314, 355 voltaic batteries, 245, 273-4, 286, 295, 297, 299, 317, 328-9 Voltaire, François Marie Arouet: in Haydon painting, 319; Candide, 68; Letters on the English Nation, xviiin; Micromégas, 426 Voyager (spacecraft), 190 Wagner, Richard: Tristan and Isolde (opera), 242 Wakefield, Priscilla, 179 Wakley, Thomas, 336 Walker, William: Eminent Men of Science Living in 1807-8 (painting), 303 Waller, Edmund, 424 Wallis, Captain Samuel, 3, 17 Walls End colliery, Northumberland, 361-2, 368-9 Walmer Castle, Kent, 200 Walpole, Horace, 135-8, 140, 338 Walton, Izaak, 276; The Compleat Angler, 339 Wansey (musician), 265 Waterton, Charles, 232, 382; Wanderings in South America, 382 Watson, James: The Double Helix, 373n Watson, Sir William, 60-1, 101 Watson, Sir William, junior: friendship with Herschel, 60-2, 92-3, 98, 100-1, 108-9, 135, 164, 166, 178, 180; and Herschel’s marriage to Mary Pitt, 185-6; and philosophical significance of astronomy, 203 Watt, Gregory: friendship with Davy, 150, 263-4, 266, 275, 362; death, 293-4 Watt, James: recommends Beddoes to Banks, 235; son stays with Davy’s mother, 250; Beddoes seeks financial support from, 251; encourages Beddoes to recruit Davy, 252; Davy visits, 256; in Davy’s nitrous oxide experiments, 263; designs portable gas chamber, 269; letter from Banks on Beddoes’s project, 281 weather forecasting, 160n Webb, T.H., 87 Wedgwood, Thomas, 263, 281 Wedgwood family, 256 Wells, Dr Horace, 283 Wells, Sarah, 49, 53-6, 384 Whewell, William: and John Herschel, 387; supports Wollaston for presidency of Royal Society, 397; and John Herschel’s Study of Natural Philosophy, 441; and formation of British Association, 446-7, 449; and Bridgewater Treatises, 452; reviews Mary Somerville, 459; befriends Charles Darwin, 460; On the Plurality of Worlds, 209 White, Gilbert, 12, 48, 136, 146, 249n Whitehaven Collieries, 369 Wilberforce, William, 386 Wilson, Frances: The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth, 187n Windham, William, 140 Wiverou (Tahitian chief), 30 Wollaston, William Hyde, 369, 374, 397-9, 401-2, 417, 436, 438-9 Wollstonecraft, Mary: published by Johnson, 106, 271; earnings, 179; Godwin writes Memoir of, 267; Davy supports, 304 women: earnings and professional status, 179-80; Davy advocates scientific knowledge for education of, 304; and third British Association meeting, 447, 452; membership of British Association, 459 wonder: nature of, xx Woodford, Revd James, 136 Wooster, David: Paula Trevelyan, 460n Wordsworth, Dora (William’s daughter), 203n Wordsworth, Dorothy, 186n, 203n, 249n Wordsworth, John (William’s son), 203n Wordsworth, Mary (née Hutchinson), 186n Wordsworth, William: on Newton, xvi-xvii, 320, 469n; published by Johnson, 106, 271; marriage to Mary Hutchinson, 186n; regional roots, 236; Coleridge visits in Lake District, 267; influence on Davy’s poetry, 276; Davy visits in Lake District, 295; at Haydon’s ‘Immortal Dinner’, 318; in Haydon painting, 319; quarrel with Coleridge, 340; honoured with dinner, 348; on Davy’s decline, 414; John Davy acts as doctor to, 433; effect of poetry on John Stuart Mill, 441; Coleridge on poetry of, 449; Lyrical Ballads (with Coleridge), 254, 275, 291; On Church and State, 449; Peter Bell, 162; The Prelude, 232, 320, 431, 469n; ‘The Tables Turned’, 320; ‘Tintern Abbey’, 316 Wright, Joseph (of Derby): paintings, xix; influenced by Priestley, 246 Wright, Thomas, 77; Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe, 91 Wynn, William, 265 Yansong, West Africa, 230 York, Edward, Duke of (George III’s brother), 75, 177 Young, Edward: Night Thoughts, 92 & n Young, Thomas, 436 Zoffany, Johann, 8, 47 ALSO BY RICHARD HOLMES One for Sorrow (poems) Shelley: The Pursuit Shelley on Love (editor) Gautier: My Fantoms (translations) Nerval: The Chimeras (with Peter Jay) Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin: A Short Residence in Sweden and Memoirs (editor, Penguin Classics) De Feministe en de Filosoof Dr Johnson & Mr Savage Coleridge: Early Visions Coleridge: Darker Reflections Coleridge: Selected Poems (editor, Penguin Classics) Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer Sidetracks: Explorations of a Romantic Biographer Insights: The Romantic Poets and their Circle Classic Biographies (series editor) Copyright HarperPress An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB Published by HarperPress in 2008 Copyright © Richard Holmes 2008 FIRST EDITION The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library EPub Edition © SEPTEMBER 2009 ISBN: 978-0-007-34988-3 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton


anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, white picket fence, wikimedia commons, working poor

The bridge is on the grounds of a 19th-century estate about 30 minutes west of Glasgow. 55.942506 4.521874 Garden of Cosmic Speculation HOLYWOOD, DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY Among the daffodils and daisies of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation are black holes, Fibonacci sequences, fractals, and DNA double helixes. Architectural theorist Charles Jencks and his late wife, Maggie Keswick, designed the 30-acre garden for their own property. Its aesthetic is guided by the fundamentals of modern physics, reflecting the shapes and patterns of the unfolding universe. Begun in 1988, the garden took almost 20 years to build, during which time Keswick succumbed to cancer. Jencks continued the project in her memory, occasionally altering designs in response to shifts and breakthroughs in scientific knowledge. (The Human Genome Project inspired the DNA Garden section, with its plant-threaded double helix.) Holywood, 5 miles (8 km) north of Dumfries. The garden is open to the public one day a year, during the first week of May.

Within a few months he had crafted an inspiring feat of engineering, a spiral staircase with no visible supports and no central column. When the nuns went looking for the benevolent stranger to pay him and thank him, he had disappeared. They concluded that the miracle staircase was built by St. Joseph himself. The fact that there are 33 steps—equaling the number of years Jesus lived—only adds to the legend. The spiral stairs are structurally sound but a little bouncy owing to their springlike double helix shape. They have been closed to public foot traffic since the 1970s, but if you book your wedding in the chapel you can stand on them to get your photo taken. 207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe. 35.685387 105.937637 The spiral staircase is said to have been constructed with the help of divine intervention. Also in New Mexico American International Rattlesnake Museum Albuquerque · Glass cages of tail-shaking serpents line the walls of this museum, which is dedicated to showing the gentler, softer underbelly of the often-feared rattlesnake. 109 East Palace Santa Fe · This innocuous-looking storefront was once the secret jump-off spot for Manhattan Project scientists working on the development of the atomic bomb.

pages: 544 words: 168,076

Red Plenty by Francis Spufford


affirmative action, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, asset allocation, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, John von Neumann, Kitchen Debate, linear programming, market clearing, New Journalism, oil shock, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, RAND corporation, Simon Kuznets, the scientific method

That is, when the lung cell is already busy dividing into two lung cells. The goo floats in, and finds inside the nucleus a double helix which has been unzipped into two separate strands, each of which is going to grow back into a complete copy of the genome. Of all the random blobs of goo in the random rainstorm, here comes the blob that suckers onto Chromosome 11 in the position to create the always-on version of ras, just as the unzipped halves of Chromosome 11 are waving loose. It’s too late for the editorial enzyme: there’s nothing to correct the mutant C against. Along the strand instead travels a polymerase, a construction enzyme, steadily building out the other half of a new double helix. And when it reaches the C, it obligingly supplies a new counterpart for the other side which is a match, which is a perfect opposite.

But it’s the switch that has been altered by having C where G used to be in this mutant version of ras. C instead of G at this one particular point jams the ras gene at ‘on’ – throws the lever for unstoppable growth, and then breaks the lever. But it’s all right. This copy of ras may be corrupted, but the cell has a failsafe mechanism built into the shape of the DNA molecules. The helix is a double helix. On the other side of the double corkscrew there runs another strand of Gs, Ts, Cs and As which carries all the information of the genome, only in reverse, like the negative of a photograph or the mould a jelly was turned out of; and the cell, which is used to operating in an environment of small chemical accidents, operates a handy editorial enzyme that moves up and down the chromosomes checking that the two strands remain perfect opposites.

pages: 404 words: 131,034

Cosmos by Carl Sagan


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Tunguska event

These are the best that four billion years of evolution could produce, containing the full complement of information on how to make a cell, a tree or a human work. The amount of information in human DNA, if written out in ordinary language, would occupy a hundred thick volumes. What is more, the DNA molecules know how to make, with only very rare exceptions, identical copies of themselves. They know extraordinarily much. DNA is a double helix, the two intertwined strands resembling a “spiral” staircase. It is the sequence or ordering of the nucleotides along either of the constituent strands that is the language of life. During reproduction, the helices separate, assisted by a special unwinding protein, each synthesizing an identical copy of the other from nucleotide building blocks floating about nearby in the viscous liquid of the cell nucleus.

The genetic material of the whale, like the genetic material of human beings, is made of nucleic acids, those extraordinary molecules capable of reproducing themselves from the chemical building blocks that surround them, and of turning hereditary information into action. For example, one whale enzyme, identical to one you have in every cell of your body, is called hexokinase, the first of more than two dozen enzyme-mediated steps required to convert a molecule of sugar obtained from the plankton in the whale’s diet into a little energy—perhaps a contribution to a single low-frequency note in the music of the whale. The information stored in the DNA double helix of a whale or a human or any other beast or vegetable on Earth is written in a language of four letters—the four different kinds of nucleotides, the molecular components that make up DNA. How many bits of information are contained in the hereditary material of various life forms? How many yes/no answers to the various biological questions are written in the language of life? A virus needs about 10,000 bits—roughly equivalent to the amount of information on this page.

pages: 443 words: 131,268

Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson


A Pattern Language, Colonization of Mars, double helix, epigenetics, Live Aid, Zeno's paradox

She and Nirgal were actually a lot alike in that sense, it should have worked. But it didn't, and that poor boy wandered the world as lonely as old Coyote himself. And he didn't have Maya—or he did, but for him she replaced Hiroko, not Jackie. Not motherless but partnerless. I felt for him. You see couples who have grown together like two old trees making one plant, trunks intertwined like the double helix itself, and you think, Yes that's the way it's supposed to be. It wouldn't be so lonely then. But there you are. You can't make partners by wanting them. So it's back to friends, and loneliness. And so I watched Nirgal live his lives like a second self cast loose on the wind. We all live the same stories. Nirgal is like a brother to me. And Sax is my brother in wonder. In all truth, there isn't a purer soul in the world.

But the grass wouldn't be as green.” “You don't think so?” says the neighbor. Back inside to recover the list and check off mowing. Then he rushes to his desk ready to write. Immense concentration brought to bear instantaneously, or at least as soon as another cup of black mud hits the bloodstream. The first word for the day comes quickly: “The” Of course it might not be the right word. He considers it. Time passes in a double helix of eternal no-time, in the blessing that cannot be spoken. He revises, rewrites, restructures. The phrase grows, shrinks, grows, shrinks, changes color. He tries it as free verse, sestina, mathematical equation, glossolalia. Finally he returns to the original formulation, complexifying it with an added nuance: “The End” It says what needs to be said; and it's twice as many words as his usual daily output.

The Future of Technology by Tom Standage


air freight, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, creative destruction, disintermediation, distributed generation, double helix, experimental economics, full employment, hydrogen economy, industrial robot, informal economy, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, job satisfaction, labour market flexibility, Marc Andreessen, market design, Menlo Park, millennium bug, moral hazard, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, railway mania, rent-seeking, RFID, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart grid, software as a service, spectrum auction, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, technology bubble, telemarketer, transcontinental railway, Y2K

This page intentionally left blank 8 CLIMBING THE HELICAL STAIRCASE THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY Climbing the helical staircase Biotechnology has its troubles, but in the long term it may change the world t has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.” With these ironic words, James Watson and Francis Crick began a biological revolution. Their paper on the structure of dna, published in Nature in April 1953, described the nowfamous double helix. It showed that the strands of the helix complement each other. It inferred, correctly, that either strand of the helix could thus act as a template for the other, allowing the molecule to replicate itself. And it suggested that because the four types of nucleotide sub-unit of which each strand is composed can be arranged in any order, a single strand could act as a message tape telling a cell which proteins to make, and therefore what job to do.

Fire x-rays through such a crystal and they will interact with the atoms in that crystal. The pattern that emerges will, with enough maths (nowadays done by computer), tell you how the atoms in the crystal are arranged. This works with any crystal, not just one made of protein. Indeed, it was the photographs taken by Rosalind Franklin of the x-ray patterns produced by dna crystals that gave James Watson and Francis Crick the clue they needed to understand that dna is a double helix. x-ray crystallography has already generated several drugs. Viracept, devised by Agouron (now part of Pfizer) and Agenerase, developed by Vertex of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are anti-aids drugs that inhibit a protein called hiv-protease. Relenza, devised by Biota Holdings, of Melbourne, Australia, gums up an influenza protein. Until recently, however, x-raying crystals has been a bespoke craft.

pages: 386 words: 114,405

The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable--And How We Can Get There by Vincent T. Devita, Jr., M. D., Elizabeth Devita-Raeburn

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, double helix, mouse model, personalized medicine, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, stem cell

I decided to write this book because I felt that the taxpayers who funded the war on cancer should know how their money was spent and that people with cancer and their families should know what is available for them—and how to make sure they get it. I want to lift the scrim that separates the public from those who study this disease and the individuals and institutions that treat it. What you will see behind the scenes is not always flattering. The process of science is inextricable from human nature. As James Watson wisely said, in the preface to his autobiographical book about discovering the structure of DNA, The Double Helix, “Science seldom proceeds in the straightforward logical manner imagined by outsiders. Instead, its steps forward (and sometimes backward) are often very human events in which personalities and cultural traditions play major roles.” It’s true. It will always be true. Watson’s book illustrates it in the search for the structure of DNA. In this book, I show you how it unfolded within the context of the war on cancer.

Most of the NCAB fell for it. Schmidt didn’t. And he didn’t just express his concern; he coolly and justifiably destroyed the logic that was presented. The program was stopped, and the director was perpetually terrified of him thereafter. You didn’t present garbage to Schmidt and expect it to go unnoticed. He exuded confidence and was fearless in dealing with unruly, arrogant board members. Jim Watson, of double helix fame, had been appointed to the NCAB because he was a brilliant scientist. But he also hated the concept of the war on cancer and was purposefully rude at board meetings to show his contempt. The board chair couldn’t control him. Watson was, after all, a Nobel laureate. He liked to lean back and put his feet up on the table and read The New York Times, lowering the paper only to interject a derogatory comment here and there.

pages: 428 words: 121,717

Warnings by Richard A. Clarke

active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K

From rain-forest mushrooms to tide-pool seashells, that fascination continues to drive her career to this day. “My dad loved books, and he loved reading about science,” she told us when we sat down in her office at UC Berkeley, where she is a professor of biology and manages a huge laboratory. “He would buy books and throw them on my bed. Early on, I was probably in about sixth grade or so, one of them was The Double Helix. I remember reading it and being just stunned that scientists could devise experiments to figure out something like the structure of DNA. It was just mind-blowing to me as a kid.”1 From then on, it wasn’t enough to just observe nature. “I wanted to know the chemicals that were in there; what’s the difference in the DNA that made, for example, one mushroom different from another?” Professor Doudna laughed, recalling the memory, and it was clear that the spark of scientific wonder, first realized in those early years, remains just as strong today.

First, at Pomona College, she worked in the lab of Sharon Panasenko, her undergraduate advisor, whom Doudna credits as a strong female role model in science. She later completed her Ph.D. at Harvard under Jack Szostak, who went on to share the 2009 Nobel Prize for his work in genetics. There Doudna developed a fascination for RNA, the close relative to its more famous genetic cousin, DNA. DNA, as is taught in any high school biology class, is the molecule that carries the hereditary information of all living organisms. Its famous double-helix structure looks like a long spiral staircase, twisting around itself, the steps holding the encoded information in what are called base pairs. The order of those base pairs is what’s important; it’s a blueprint for our design, regulating the creation and functions of all our cells and making life as we know it possible. While Doudna was at Harvard, RNA was widely believed to be DNA’s secretary: RNA carried out the commands spelled out by DNA.

pages: 261 words: 10,785

The Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford


Albert Einstein, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, double helix,, factory automation, full employment, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, mass immigration, moral hazard, pattern recognition, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, Ray Kurzweil, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas L Friedman, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty

This may seem like pure fantasy until we learn that nanotechnology is already here and has been operating Copyrighted Material – Paperback/Kindle available @ Amazon THE LIGHTS IN THE TUNNEL / 88 since long before human beings walked the earth.* It is all around us and even inside us. All living things, at the most basic level, operate under the direction of molecular machines. We know that our genetic recipe is encoded in the double helix-shaped DNA molecules in the nucleus of our cells. But how does that recipe get translated into an incomprehensibly complex organism like a human being? If we could zoom in and watch the action inside our cells, we would see tiny molecular machines “unzip” our DNA molecules and read portions of our genetic code in a way that is not unlike a computer scanning in a bar code. That genetic “bar code” is then transmitted to another area in our cells.

pages: 181 words: 62,775

Half Empty by David Rakoff


airport security, Buckminster Fuller, dark matter, double helix, Google Earth, phenotype, RFID, urban planning, urban renewal, wage slave, Wall-E, Y2K

When Dad presses his button, for example, the room adjusts itself to his various preprogrammed preferences: lighting, shades up or shades down, music playing, even the images that are displayed in the many digital picture frames all around. For Brian, who is an architect, the photos switch to things structural: an ink drawing of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a view of London with Norman Foster’s Gherkin office tower visible, as well as the double-helix ramps in his dome for the Reichstag in Berlin. Atkins is an incredibly friendly guy who, while having enjoyed the experience of working on the Dream Home, hardly seems like a Kool-Aid drinker. He is pleased when I can identify a wall mural as being in the style of Maxfield Parrish, and downright thrilled when we enter the home for the first time and he has us turn left, because most people turn right, and I say “Paco Underwood,” referring to the retail anthropologist who observed this phenomenon (something I only know from reading Malcolm Gladwell).

pages: 210 words: 56,667

The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity From Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs by Alexa Clay, Kyra Maya Phillips


3D printing, Airbnb, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Burning Man, collaborative consumption, conceptual framework, creative destruction, double helix, fear of failure, game design, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, megacity, Occupy movement, peer-to-peer rental, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar

Many of us cleave to our own ideas. But part of learning to innovate is recognizing that other people sometimes have better ideas, and that what we think are “our” thoughts are not our ideas at all but ours to witness. How often have you had what you were certain was an original thought or concept only to discover that others had it, too, either prior or simultaneously? The discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA is one example—James Watson and Francis Crick are known to have been working on the problem at the University of Cambridge while Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins at the University of London did the same.10 The theory of evolution, while largely accredited to Charles Darwin, was independently conceived by British biologist Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace sent Darwin a letter outlining his theories of evolution.

pages: 202 words: 62,199

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown


Albert Einstein, Clayton Christensen, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, double helix,, endowment effect, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Lao Tzu, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, microcredit, minimum viable product, North Sea oil, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Vilfredo Pareto

Given that, it should hardly be surprising that key breakthroughs in thinking have taken place in times of play. Hallowell writes: “Columbus was at play when it dawned on him that the world was round. Newton was at play in his mind when he saw the apple tree and suddenly conceived of the force of gravity. Watson and Crick were playing with possible shapes of the DNA molecule when they stumbled upon the double helix. Shakespeare played with iambic pentameter his whole life. Mozart barely lived a waking moment when he was not at play. Einstein’s thought experiments are brilliant examples of the mind invited to play.”9 Of Work and Play Some innovative companies are finally waking up to the essential value of play. The CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, promotes play through comedy; he instigated an improv class at the company.

Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire by Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian


affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Chelsea Manning, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate personhood, David Brooks, discovery of DNA, double helix, drone strike, failed state, Howard Zinn, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, inflation targeting, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Julian Assange, land reform, Martin Wolf, Mohammed Bouazizi, Naomi Klein, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, Powell Memorandum, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, single-payer health, sovereign wealth fund, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Tobin tax, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks

In Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Bruce Alberts, a biochemist, had a series of editorials on science education.18 What he points out is quite interesting. He says science education is increasingly being designed with the effect of killing any interest in science. If you are in college, maybe you have to memorize a bunch of enzymes or something. If you are in elementary school, you memorize the periodic table. When you study the discovery of DNA, you’re just taught what scientists already discovered. You memorize the fact that DNA is a double helix. Science is being taught in a way that kills any joy in science, gives you no sense of what discovery is. It’s the opposite of Weisskopf’s view that it matters what you discover, not what you cover. Alberts gives some nice examples of alternatives that do work. In one kindergarten class, each kid was given a dish with a mixture of pebbles, shells, and seeds, and asked, “How do we know if something is a seed?”

pages: 171 words: 57,379

Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (But Also My Mom's, Which I Know Sounds Weird) by Michael Ian Black

Bernie Madoff, double helix, Minecraft, pre–internet

Martha’s attitude does not dissuade me from opening my own test box. I’m not sure what I expect to find inside, but I assume there will be an assortment of science gizmos including: a hypodermic needle, a high-speed centrifuge, a DNA sequencer, safety goggles, and a tabletop laser. Not so. The box contains exactly one (1) plastic spittoon and one (1) mail-in envelope. I shake out the box, but that’s it. Hm. Shouldn’t the process for untangling my personal double helix be a bit more Star Treky than filling a plastic cup with spit? It takes ten minutes of effortful expectorating to fill the cup. When I finish, I hold it up to the light, the way schoolkids do conducting experiments on pond water. Somewhere in that watery goop is my fate. I seal up the envelope and mail it off to the future. A couple weeks later, I receive an e-mail informing me that my results are ready for viewing.

pages: 181 words: 52,147

The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future by Vivek Wadhwa, Alex Salkever

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, double helix, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Google bus, Hyperloop, income inequality, Internet of things, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, license plate recognition, life extension, Lyft, M-Pesa, Menlo Park, microbiome, mobile money, new economy, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supercomputer in your pocket, Tesla Model S, The Future of Employment, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uranium enrichment, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

Christened Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0, also known as “Synthia,” the slow-growing, harmless bacterium was made of a synthetic genome with 1,077,947 DNA base pairs. To make Synthia, Venter’s team inserted a synthetic genome into a cell containing no DNA. The technology that Venter used to “write” the genes of this new organism is the equivalent of a laser printer that can “print” DNA. DNA has a fairly simple structure, with a double helix containing linked chains of nucleic acids. Already there are a number of DNA print providers, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and GeneArt, that will sell DNA synthesis and assembly operations as a service. Current pricing is by the number of amino-acid base pairs—the chemical components of a gene—that are to be assembled. From 2003 to 2015, assembly costs plummeted from $4 to 20 cents per base pair; and in March 2016, one company, Gen9, offered assembly for 3 cents per base pair of long DNA constructs.7 It is very likely that, in the early 2030s, it will be possible to search for genetic designs on the Web, download them to your computer, and modify and adapt them to your needs.

pages: 273 words: 83,186

The botany of desire: a plant's-eye view of the world by Michael Pollan


back-to-the-land, clean water, David Attenborough, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Francisco Pizarro, invention of agriculture, Joseph Schumpeter, mandatory minimum, Maui Hawaii, means of production, paper trading, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Steven Pinker

For reasons not yet understood, the agrobacterium method seems to work best on broadleaf species such as the potato, the gene gun better on grasses, such as corn and wheat. The gene gun is a strangely high-low piece of technology, but the main thing you need to know about it is that the gun here is not a metaphor: a .22 shell is used to fire stainless-steel projectiles dipped in a DNA solution at a stem or leaf of the target plant. If all goes well, some of the DNA will pierce the wall of some of the cells’ nuclei and elbow its way into the double helix: a bully breaking into a line dance. If the new DNA happens to land in the right place—and no one yet knows what, or where, that place is—the plant grown from that cell will express the new gene. That’s it? That’s it. Apart from its slightly more debonair means of entry, the agrobacterium works in much the same way. In the clean rooms, where the air pressure is kept artificially high to prevent errant microbes from wandering in, technicians sit at lab benches before petri dishes in which fingernail-sized sections of potato stem have been placed in a clear nutrient jelly.

pages: 208 words: 67,288

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, false memory syndrome, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Isaac Newton, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, the scientific method

Nowadays we know this, and we know exactly how DNA works, thanks to James Watson and Francis Crick, plus a lot of other scientists who came after them. Watson and Crick could not see DNA with their own eyes. Once again, they made their discoveries by imagining models and testing them. In their case, they literally built metal and cardboard models of what DNA might look like, and they calculated what certain measurements ought to be if those models were correct. The predictions of one model, the so-called double helix model, exactly fitted the measurements made by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, using special instruments involving X-rays beamed into crystals of purified DNA. Watson and Crick also immediately realized that their model of the structure of DNA would produce exactly the kind of results seen by Gregor Mendel in his monastery garden. We come to know what is real, then, in one of three ways.

Toast by Stross, Charles


anthropic principle, Buckminster Fuller, cosmological principle, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Extropian, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, glass ceiling, gravity well, Khyber Pass, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, NP-complete, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, performance metric, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, slashdot, speech recognition, strong AI, traveling salesman, Turing test, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

Wright vanished for three years; it was not until a fateful day in August of 1945 that we discovered the ends to which his research into explosive lenses had been put. Sadly, Kotcha the Albanian proved to be unreliable. He returned to his homeland and was immediately spirited away to the Soviet Union, taking his work on ultracentrifugation with him. We cannot estimate the extent of his contribution to the Bolshevik bomb program at this time. Meanwhile, work continues apace. The discovery of the Double Helix has given a tremendous boost to the Botanical Committee, who are now making extensive use of the Boddington’s Mark One Computer that now occupies the cellar of our former premises in Greek Street. When not employed preparing the accounts for the Boddington’s Beverage Corporation, the computer is used to assist the X-ray crystallographic analysis of the enzymes responsible for the production of the alkaloid constituents of Coffee.

pages: 250 words: 75,586

When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales From Neurosurgery by Frank Vertosick


butterfly effect, double helix, index card, medical residency, random walk, zero-sum game

Underneath their fine incisions Stirs the Culprit—Life! —EMILY DICKINSON Introduction Neurosurgery is an arrogant occupation. Astronomers study the stars but never touch them. Particle physicists see God in the vapor trails of their great atom-smashers, but cannot see the particles themselves, cannot reach into protons and feel the quarks with their fingers. Molecular biologists sing the praises of the double helix, but the gene is forever an abstraction, invisible to the naked eye. These scientists must be content with the shadow nature casts upon their instruments and photographic emulsions. But not the neurosurgeon, for whom the greatest mystery of creation resides in a few pounds of greasy flesh and blood. Only the neurosurgeon dares to improve upon five billion years of evolution in a few hours. The human brain.

pages: 284 words: 79,265

The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date by Samuel Arbesman


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Wiles, bioinformatics, British Empire, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Chelsea Manning, Clayton Christensen, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, David Brooks, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Galaxy Zoo, guest worker program, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index fund, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, life extension, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nicholas Carr, p-value, Paul Erdős, Pluto: dwarf planet, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, social graph, social web, text mining, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation

These types of errors, which can be used to understand the provenance of a document, are actually nearly identical to the types of errors caused by polymerase enzymes, the proteins responsible for copying DNA strands. When it comes to copying DNA—those strands of information that code for proteins and so much more—there are a few advantages over simply hand copying a document. DNA’s language is made up of four letters, or bases, which come in complementary pairs: A always goes with T, and G always goes with C. When DNA is copied, its double helix is unzipped, and the letters of each helix—one side of the zipper—can be easily paired with their complementary letters. This results in two new double helices—closed zippers—both of which have properly paired letters, because the complementary letters act as a simple way to prevent errors. Nonetheless, when DNA is replicated, it’s sometimes done imperfectly. The group of chemical machines responsible for duplicating a strand of DNA occasionally makes mistakes.

pages: 1,197 words: 304,245

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, commoditize, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix,, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Philip Mirowski, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel prize-winning physicist, expressed this view when he wrote ‘when we make contact with beings from another planet we will find that they have discovered the same laws of physical science as we have.’33 Science is thus a cross-cultural language which any culture can in principle learn to speak, and which any technologically sophisticated culture will already have learnt to speak. This was the assumption underlying a message that was broadcast into space by the Arecibo radio telescope in 1974. The message consisted of the numbers one through to ten, the atomic numbers of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus, the formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA, the number of nucleotides in DNA, the double helix structure of DNA, a figure of a human being and its height, the population of Earth, a diagram of our solar system, and an image of the Arecibo telescope with its diameter. The assumption was that any extraterrestrial intelligence capable of receiving the message would recognize the maths and the science and quickly make sense of the Earth-specific information. The great mathematician Christiaan Huygens discovered the law of the pendulum in 1673; he believed that there were inhabited planets scattered across the universe; and by the time he died in 1695 he had persuaded himself that this law was known throughout the universe.34 The opposing view is that science is shaped by a whole series of cultural and social factors which ensure that no two societies would produce the same knowledge, just as no two societies produce the same religious beliefs.

Wind and Water in the Middle Ages: Fluid Technologies from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 2006. Washburn, Wilcomb E. ‘The Meaning of “Discovery” in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries’. American Historical Review 68 (1962): 1–21. Waters, David W. ‘Nautical Astronomy and the Problem of Longitude’. In The Uses of Science in the Age of Newton. Ed. JG Burke. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983: 143–69. Watson, James D. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968. Weber, Eugen. Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France 1870–1914. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976. Weber, Max. The Vocation Lectures. Ed. TB Strong and DS Owen. Trans. R Livingstone. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004. Webster, Charles. ‘The Discovery of Boyle’s Law, and the Concept of the Elasticity of Air in the Seventeenth Century’.

Waldseemüller is far too good a Latinist to copy Vespucci’s usage in the Cosmographiae introductio. O’Gorman argues that Waldseemüller’s invenio should be translated as ‘conceive’, not ‘discover’, which is to ignore the fact that Waldseemüller is working from a Latin text of Vespucci in which invenio is already a translation of discooperio (O’Gorman, The Invention of America (1961), 123 and n. 117). 8. See, for example, Wolper, ‘The Rhetoric of Gunpowder’ (1970). 9. Watson, The Double Helix (1968), 197. 10. On the discovery of discovery: Fleming (ed.), The Invention of Discovery (2011); and Margolis, It Started with Copernicus (2002), Ch. 3 – neither explores the new terminology. On curiosity: Huff, Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution (2011); Harrison, ‘Curiosity, Forbidden Knowledge’ (2001); Ball, Curiosity (2012); Daston, ‘Curiosity in Early Modern Science’ (1995); and Daston & Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature (1998), 303–28.

pages: 728 words: 182,850

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter


3D printing, A Pattern Language, carbon footprint, centre right, Community Supported Agriculture, Computer Numeric Control, crowdsourcing, Donald Knuth, double helix,, European colonialism, fear of failure, food miles, functional fixedness, hacker house, haute cuisine, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, iterative process, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, random walk, Rubik’s Cube, slashdot, stochastic process, the scientific method

When heated above 185°F / 85°C, the galactose in agar melts, and upon cooling below 90–104°F / 32–40°C it forms a double-helix structure. (The exact gelling temperature depends on the concentration of agar.) During gelling, the endpoints of the double helices are able to bond to each other. Agar has a large hysteresis; that is, the temperature at which it converts back to a gel is much lower than the temperature at which that gel melts back to a liquid, which means that you can warm the set gel up to a moderately warm temperature and have it remain solid. For more information on the chemistry of agar, see Agar at the molecular level. When heated, the molecule relaxes into a relatively straight molecule (upper left) that upon cooling forms a double helix with another agar molecule (center). The ends of these double helices can bond with other agar double helices (upper right), forming a 3D mesh (left).

pages: 746 words: 239,969

Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson


double helix, gravity well, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype, skunkworks, the scientific method

It’s trouble for all of us, really.” “Tell me about it. I broke my forearm swinging a tennis racket.” “Left-handed giant bird-people, that’s what we’re growing down here. It’s bizarre, if you ask me. You see them running across the dunes and expect them to just take off and fly.” That night Nirgal had the usual trouble sleeping. Ectogenes, transgenic . . . it made him feel odd. White and green in their double helix. . . . For hours he tossed, wondering what the uneasiness twisting through him meant, wondering what he should feel. Finally, exhausted, he fell asleep. And in his sleep he had a dream. All his dreams before that night had been about Zygote, but now he dreamed that he flew in the air, over the surface of Mars. Vast red canyons cut the land, and volcanoes reared nearly to his unimaginable height.

Very neat, Art thought as he watched a little robot car roll past him in the opposite direction, up the tracks toward the city. The little train car was black, squat, powered by a simple motor engaging the cog track, filled with a cargo that was no doubt mostly carbon nanotube filaments, and capped on top by a big rectangular block of diamond. Art had heard about this in Sheffield, and so was not surprised to see it. The diamond had been salvaged from the double helixes strengthening the cable, and the blocks were actually much less valuable than the carbon filament stored underneath them— basically a kind of fancy hatch door. But they did look nice. On the second day of his drive, Art got off the immense cone of Pavonis, and onto the Tharsis bulge proper. Here the ground was much more littered than the volcano’s side had been with loose rock, and meteor craters.

Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, Arthur Eddington, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, break the buck, Brownian motion, business process, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Carmen Reinhart, Chance favours the prepared mind, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, diversification, diversified portfolio, double helix, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Ernest Rutherford, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, framing effect, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, housing crisis, incomplete markets, index fund, interest rate derivative, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, martingale, merger arbitrage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, old-boy network, out of africa, p-value, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, prediction markets, price discovery process, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, RAND corporation, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical arbitrage, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, survivorship bias, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Walter Mischel, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Natural selection is an entirely unplanned process, but it does depend on the range of variation within a species. This variation, in turn, depends on genes. We’ve seen how individuals within a species with more useful genetic traits for their environment are reproductively more successful than individuals with slightly less useful traits, but where do these different traits in a species come from? The answer to this riddle is mutation. Watson and Crick’s famous discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA showed not only how DNA could carry information, but also how it could act as its own template when copying itself. The process of genetic replication is very accurate. However, because of the physical structure of DNA and the laws of thermodynamics, it’s not quite perfect. As a result, entirely new variations in genetic traits occur naturally in an organism’s genome from time to time.

The private sector also pours tens of billions of dollars each year into biomedicine, but the nature of that funding is quite different. Investors demand a rate of return on their capital and won’t fund basic science, since there’s no way to extract a financial return on new knowledge unless it’s patentable or otherwise commercial. Much of basic science, like Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, or the sequencing of the human genome, isn’t patentable, but is enormously valuable in contributing to a multitude of applications that are patentable. As a result, private sector investment in biomedicine waxes and wanes, depending on the perceived risks and rewards of the companies seeking funding. In the late 1990s, biotech companies were hot, in some cases even hotter than the Internet companies that were taking off around the same time.

pages: 224 words: 12,941

From Gutenberg to Google: electronic representations of literary texts by Peter L. Shillingsburg


British Empire, computer age, double helix, HyperCard, hypertext link, interchangeable parts, invention of the telephone, means of production, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, Saturday Night Live, Socratic dialogue

I choose the problematic word ‘‘aesthetics’’ in part to honor the bold use of it made by my colleague, a modernist and Yeats editor, David Holdeman in a paper titled ‘‘The Editor as Artist.’’ His choice struck a chord with me that is worth plucking again.8 Aesthetics and beauty have not been fashionable words for use with science or scholarship, though I still remember the shock of recognition that I felt when reading in James Watson’s Double Helix that he knew he had the right model for DNA because it was beautiful. Aesthetics has many definitions, but among them are the notions that what may seem to be multifarious may also be seen as unity, that the chaotic can have harmony, that the complex may have coherence, that the intricate can have pattern, that the disparate may have commonality. Out of the many, one: e pluribus unum – . We abandoned these notions when we recognized that the pursuit of Truth and Wholeness with capital letters represented a misguided combination of idealism and essentialism.

pages: 364 words: 101,286

The Misbehavior of Markets by Benoit Mandelbrot


Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Brownian motion, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, carbon-based life, discounted cash flows, diversification, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Elliott wave, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, implied volatility, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market microstructure, Myron Scholes, new economy, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, stochastic volatility, transfer pricing, value at risk, Vilfredo Pareto, volatility smile

Merged together, the baby takes the father’s trading-time and converts it into a price by the rules the mother provides. Last step: Use the new, baby generator to make a full fractal price chart that is a variant of one of the panels in the “Panorama of financial multifractal.” And there you are: a realistic financial chart, made by stretching and shrinking time. And a nice metaphor for our age, some fifty years after the discovery of the double helix: Each parent contributes one half of a chromosome to the baby. The Baby Theorem. This diagram shows how two generators can pass on traits to a third. The mother generator at top right is a Brownian motion, in conventional clock time—as apparent from the chart of its increments shown above the generator. The father, at bottom right, transforms clock time into a new time-scale, called trading time.

pages: 290 words: 87,084

Branded Beauty by Mark Tungate


augmented reality, Berlin Wall, call centre, corporate social responsibility, double helix, East Village, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, haute couture, invention of the printing press, joint-stock company, liberal capitalism, placebo effect, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, stem cell

It earned a mention in LVMH’s financial results for the first quarter of 2010, which described it as ‘performing well’. WHERE SCIENCE MEETS STATUS The desire to blind consumers with science has led to the equivalent of an arms race in the industry, as each brand attempts to outdo the other with its latest find. They patent their findings and boast about these patents in their advertising claims: for example, Estée Lauder signals ‘20 patents worldwide’ and ‘25 years of DNA research’, emphasized by a golden double helix, for its Advanced Night Repair cream. Since 1991, Chanel has run the Centre de recherches et d’investigations épidermiques et sensorielles (epidermal and sensory research and investigation centre) (CERIES), which grants a €40,000 annual award for ground-breaking research into skincare. One of Chanel’s weapons in the skincare wars is Xavier Ormancey, the brand’s director of active ingredient research.

pages: 605 words: 110,673

Drugs Without the Hot Air by David Nutt


British Empire, double helix,, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, offshore financial centre, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), War on Poverty

I did some quick calculations … it would fit on the property and not only that … it would meet the cost and income requirements … I began to draw …my senses could not keep up with my images.” The image stayed with him just as sharply after the drug experience had ended, and his design was accepted and constructed. Even in the less-obviously creative fields of hard science, LSD can be profoundly beneficial. In fact, it played a role in the two biggest discoveries in biology of the 20th century. 14Francis Crick, who discovered the double helix structure of DNA with James Watson, and 15Kary Mullis, who invented the 16polymerase chain reaction (PCR), had both taken the drug, and attributed some of their understanding and insights to it. Mullis has gone so far as to say: “would I have invented PCR if I hadn’t taken LSD? I seriously doubt it … [having taken LSD] I could sit on a DNA molecule and watch the polymers go by. I learnt that partly on psychedelic drugs.”

pages: 362 words: 104,308

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson


bioinformatics, business intelligence, double helix, experimental subject, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), phenotype, prisoner's dilemma, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, zero-sum game

The discovery of the incompletability of all systems. The step-by-step mechanics of programming new calculating machines. All this resulted in an amalgam of math and logic, the symbols and methods drawn from both realms, combining in the often long and complicated operations that we call algorithms. In the time of the development of the algorithm, we also made discoveries in the real world: the double helix within our cells. DNA. Within half a century the whole genome was read, base pair by base pair. Three billion base pairs, parts of which are called genes, and serve as instruction packets for protein creation. But despite the fully explicated genome, the details of its expression and growth are still very mysterious. Spiraling pairs of cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine: we know these are instructions for growth, for the development of life, all coded in sequences of paired elements.

pages: 334 words: 103,508

Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson


Buckminster Fuller, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, double helix, gravity well

So often this had happened and I had resolved never to extend myself again — the aquifer was drained, the land above collapsing! — and here just the slightest show of friendship and I had done it again. Not the slightest bit of control over myself. There was something wrong with me, I knew it. I felt it. What I wanted then was a marriage like the Greek ideal, two strong trees grown round each other in a double helix, each stronger for the help of the other, and intertwined for good. Some people found such marriages even in our age, and I wanted one. I was just beginning to understand that my life was a series of discrete lives, and that I could not count on any family or friend to stay with me through more than one life. So that I would never really come to know anybody. Unless I could find that partner, you see, that Greek marriage.

pages: 342 words: 88,736

The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis by Ruth Defries


agricultural Revolution, Columbian Exchange, demographic transition, double helix, European colonialism, food miles, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, out of africa, planetary scale, premature optimization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade

Dwarf varieties kept wheat and rice upright when chemical fertilizers and irrigation boosted the weight. The Green Revolution took genetic twists of nature to new heights, with skyrocketing yields in the developing world that even outstripped the explosive growth in population of the past century. The next pivot is playing out in contemporary times. What Mendel’s experiments did for hybrids, the Nobel Prize–winning 1953 discovery of the double-helix DNA molecule by James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin, did for a new frontier for manipulating genes. DNA holds the blueprint for all traits, the code for all life. Breeding plants not by how they look to the eye but by the composition of their DNA, and splicing genes from one species to another, is a far cry from the forager who picked a wild tomato. But the basic principle remains the same.

pages: 304 words: 88,773

The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks. by Steven Johnson


call centre, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Dean Kamen, digital map, double helix, edge city, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, John Snow's cholera map, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, megacity, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, peak oil, side project, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, trade route, unbiased observer, working poor

But at a certain point—perhaps ten years from now, perhaps fifty—the window may well close, and the threat may subside, just as other, more specific, biological threats have subsided in the past: polio, smallpox, chicken pox. If this scenario comes to pass, the pandemic threat will ultimately be defeated by a different kind of map—not maps of lives and deaths on a city street, or bird flu outbreaks, but maps of nucleotides wrapped in a double helix. Our ability to analyze the genetic composition of any life-form has made astonishing progress over the past ten years, but in many ways we are at the very beginning of the genomic revolution. We have already seen amazing advances in our understanding of the way genes build organisms, but the application of that understanding—particularly in the realm of medicine—is only starting to bear fruit.

pages: 294 words: 86,601

Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life by Steven Johnson


Columbine, double helix, epigenetics, experimental subject, Gödel, Escher, Bach, James Watt: steam engine, l'esprit de l'escalier, pattern recognition, phenotype, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, zero-sum game

Even the most dogged biological determinist wouldn’t argue that people with innately lower cortisol levels were naturally rising to the top of the heap. Clearly the cultural environment of the civil service was affecting the stress levels of its members, and changing their brain chemistry accordingly. More status, less cortisol; less status, more cortisol. Such hormone levels would appear on one of our imagined neurotransmitter profiles, but they wouldn’t necessarily suggest some fate sealed in the double helix before birth. In fact, they might well point to an imbalance outside the individual body, in society itself. The drugs flowing through our bodies and our brains can tell us a great deal about ourselves, but not just the biological selves we were born with. They are also symptoms of a wider world outside the brain, a world that the brain’s inner chemistry reflects. I suspect that not too long from now we’ll see charts of average cortisol levels-alongside those of the other major endogenous drugs-across national populations, tracked over long periods of time.

pages: 341 words: 89,986

Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made by Tom Wilkinson


Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, double helix, experimental subject, false memory syndrome, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, housing crisis, Kitchen Debate, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, megacity, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, urban planning

This advertised the collective spirit of the group, which rejected the existing feudal structure of the profession, in which teams of anonymous office juniors laboured to create projects which would be signed off by a big-name architect, a situation that persists today. In the straitened circumstances of the Depression there were not many opportunities for such a radical group, but they made their mark in 1934 with the unlikeliest of commissions, a penguin pool at London Zoo. The famous double-helix ramp, made possible by the engineering expertise of Ove Arup – who was to collaborate with Tecton and Lubetkin for many years – was an early iteration of one of Lubetkin’s central ideas, the social condenser. Originated by the constructivists, the social condenser was a building that brought people together in new relationships, making new ways of life possible. Bringing penguins together might seem to be somewhat lacking in revolutionary potential, but this was design as propaganda: it was meant to advertise Tecton’s skill and the playful utopian potential of modern architecture to the public at large – and to potential patrons.

pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff


algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game

Indeed, in spite of widespread confidence that we will crack the human code and replicate cognition within just a couple of decades, biology has a way of foiling even its most committed pursuers. The more we learn about DNA and the closer we come to mapping the entire genome, for example, the more we learn how small a part of the total picture it composes. We are no more determined by the neatly identifiable codons of the double helix than we are by the confused protein soup in which it actually operates. Put the same codons in a different person or species, and you’ll get very different results. Our picture of human cognition is even hazier, with current psychopharmacology taking a shotgun approach to regulating neurotransmitters whose actual functioning we have only begun to understand. At our current level of technological sophistication, to argue that a virtual Second Life* simulation will soon become indistinguishable from real life smacks of fantasy and hubris.

pages: 282 words: 89,436

Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics by Paul Halpern


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmological constant, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, lone genius, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics

Pointing out that most natural systems tend toward increasing entropy (disorder), he showed how life maintains itself as orderly through the absorption of energy, such as from the Sun. He also speculated that an aperiodic crystal (a nonrepeating arrangement of atoms) played a role in the development of life. Hence he was one of the first to suggest that life was encoded by a chemical sequence. A book based on Schrödinger’s lectures would serve as a source of inspiration for biologists in the 1950s, such as James Watson and Francis Crick, as they developed the double-helix model of DNA. The popular lectures drew the attention of Time magazine, which reported, “Schrödinger has a way with him. His soft, cheerful speech, his whimsical smile are engaging. And Dubliners are proud to have a Nobel prizewinner living among them.”25 174 Luck of the Irish When the Irish Press first reported about Schrödinger’s general unitary theory, it sent Einstein a copy of the article to gauge his reaction.

pages: 378 words: 94,468

Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High by Mike Power


air freight, Alexander Shulgin, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, frictionless, Haight Ashbury, John Bercow, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Leonard Kleinrock, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, Mother of all demos, Network effects, nuclear paranoia, packet switching, pattern recognition, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, pre–internet, QR code, RAND corporation, Satoshi Nakamoto, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sexual politics, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, Zimmermann PGP

The fact that this outlandish mental expedition was embarked upon by a distinguished British politician and an internationally respected scientist reveals much about the journey away from a more liberal British stance towards the dysfunctional model of drug prohibition that now prevails worldwide. LSD remained legal for more than twenty years after its creation, since its users tended to be psychiatrists, scientists and, in the main, other serious-minded researchers. LSD’s early users included James D. Watson and Francis Crick, who cracked the fundamental secret of life in March 1953 when they imagined the double helix form of DNA while under the influence of a small dose of the drug, have shaped society in ways unimaginable before its appearance. Once it escaped the psychiatry ward and other medical institutions in the 1940s and 1950s, LSD was the first compound to enable mass drug use in the West during the 1960s. The mescaline eaten by Ellis was organic, natural and derived from peyote. Huxley, Osmond and Mayhew’s hydrochloride was lab-made, but synthetic – and the dose was 400 mg.

pages: 324 words: 92,805

The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification by Paul Roberts


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, business process, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, factory automation, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, game design, greed is good, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, impulse control, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, low skilled workers, mass immigration, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, performance metric, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Walter Mischel, winner-take-all economy

Shareholder returns (that is, share price appreciation plus dividends)‡ for the five hundred companies on the Standard & Poor’s 500 were more than twice the level of the 1960s and nearly as high as the boom times of the 1950s.6 With each quarterly report, the shareholder revolution and the logic of efficient markets were looking more and more righteous—so much so that many firms granted senior managers steadily larger blocks of company stock in order to “incentivize” them to create even more value. By then, rapid increases in computing power had unleashed the Internet and the surge in technology stocks. For many experts, the dot-com boom was final confirmation of a new economic order, a double helix of digital power and market efficiency that, in theory, was capable of generating even more wealth than the postwar economy. America was back on top. What was becoming clear, however, was that this massive new prosperity wasn’t anywhere near as broadly shared as its postwar predecessor had been—and this was hardly accidental. No longer hobbled by government intervention or expectations of social duties, American businesses were free to focus on a much more efficient and narrowly defined prosperity—one that gratified the interests of shareholders and executives, but left other parties to fend largely for themselves.

pages: 309 words: 95,495

Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe by Greg Ip


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Air France Flight 447, air freight, airport security, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, break the buck, Bretton Woods, capital controls, central bank independence, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, double helix, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, global supply chain, hindsight bias, Hyman Minsky, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift,, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transaction costs, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, value at risk, William Langewiesche, zero-sum game

In 1945 Fleming warned that resistant strains would become much more prevalent if penicillin became available in a pill, allowing patients to self-medicate rather than receive the drug intravenously in a hospital. Though Fleming was right about the possibility of resistance, he underestimated its potency. Fleming assumed that resistance would develop through natural selection. Suppose a strain of bacteria contained a mutation on its chromosome—the “double helix” of DNA that acts as a blueprint for the entire organism—that made it resistant to penicillin. Treating the patient with penicillin would kill off all the microbes except the resistant strain, enabling it to thrive and spread. Imagine a change in climate that kills all of a species of rabbit except some with unusually thick fur; the thick-furred species would thereafter become dominant because it was better adapted to this new climate.

pages: 326 words: 97,089

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings


Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, index card, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, music of the spheres, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, planetary scale, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Solar eclipse in 1919, technological singularity, the scientific method, transcontinental railway

His stained-glass window displayed the resulting output: a top row of dots establishing a binary counting method, listing numbers one through ten, followed by a second row listing the atomic numbers of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus, the key chemical elements of all life on Earth. A third section assembled the preceding atomic numbers into chemical formulas for the nucleotides in a molecule of DNA, followed by a schematic depiction of a DNA molecule’s distinctive double helix. A long vertical bar represented the DNA molecule’s sugar-phosphate backbone, and doubled as a binary depiction of 3 billion, roughly the number of nucleotide base pairs within the human genome. The molecule’s image hovered over the head of a stick-figure human being, which was sandwiched between two more binary numbers, 4 billion and 14. Four billion was meant to convey the world population in 1974, and 14, multiplied by the transmission’s wavelength of 12.6 centimeters, was intended to show that the human figure stands 176 centimeters high—just as tall, it turns out, as Frank Drake.

pages: 445 words: 105,255

Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization by K. Eric Drexler


3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Bill Joy: nanobots, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crowdsourcing, dark matter, double helix, failed state, global supply chain, industrial robot, iterative process, Mars Rover, means of production, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, performance metric, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Thomas Malthus, V2 rocket, Vannevar Bush, zero-sum game

Starting in the 1980s, Nadrian Seeman developed structures based on branched DNA assemblies, and structural DNA nanotechnology (as the field is now called) made major strides in the 1990s. Since then, the field has gone through a series of revolutions culminating in the ability to engineer atomically precise molecular frameworks on a scale of millions of atoms and hundreds of nanometers, using a technique called “DNA origami.” The simple, pairwise matching of DNA strands to form the predictable, rod-like structure of the DNA double helix has provided a molecular engineering method that can be as predictable as carpentry. In this analogy, short, single DNA strands play the role of the nails (technically termed “staples”), crossing between double helical strands to fasten them together. The products made to date include rectangles with arrays of hundreds of DNA-addressable binding sites, struts forming octahedra, and boxes with lids that latch and unlatch.

pages: 518 words: 107,836

How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Information Policy) by Benjamin Peters


Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Davies, double helix, Drosophila, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, hive mind, index card, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, scientific mainstream, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technoutopianism, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, transaction costs, Turing machine

Many scientists worldwide were rushing to find ways to stabilize and regulate the consequences of a torrent of new and disruptive technologies—and cybernetics modeled a technical mindset for how to grapple with and control the consequences of technology itself. The 1950s saw a dizzying number of potentially revolutionary technologies become popular—atomic and hydrogen bombs, nuclear power plants, Sputnik, the double helix, passenger jets, dishwashers, polio vaccines, the lobotomy (invented in the 1930s), television, and transistor radios—and other trends, such as rock & roll and suburban housing developments. The disruptive influences of modern science and technology continued to be felt in the 1960s as quarks, lasers, Apollo, nylon, Pampers, the pill, LSD, napalm, DDT, mutually assured destruction, and the ARPANET entered the world stage.

pages: 432 words: 85,707

QI: The Third Book of General Ignorance (Qi: Book of General Ignorance) by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson


Albert Einstein, British Empire, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, dark matter, double helix, epigenetics, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, music of the spheres, out of africa, Ronald Reagan, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route

He did wonder if nuclein might be involved in heredity, but soon discounted it. He couldn’t believe a single molecule could account for all the variation seen within species. It was more than 60 years before anyone proved DNA communicated genetic information, and 25 more before Crick and Watson won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for identifying the shape of its molecule. They discovered DNA is double-helix-shaped, like two interlocking spiral staircases. Rosalind Franklin, who produced the first images of DNA, was supposedly snubbed by the Nobel Prize Committee when they awarded the prize to Crick and Watson in 1962. In fact, Franklin died of cancer in 1958 and was ineligible for the prize, which is never given posthumously. It was shared by Crick and Watson – and Maurice Wilkins, who’d worked with Franklin on the images.

pages: 287 words: 99,131

Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom by Mary Catherine Bateson


affirmative action, Berlin Wall, Celebration, Florida, desegregation, double helix, estate planning, feminist movement, invention of writing, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce

By the time I met Hank, he had learned a wide variety of skills in working with precious metals and semiprecious stones. The first example of his work that I saw was a chain necklace, given to me by Dick and Barbara. Such chains are made link by double or single link from different thicknesses of silver wire, then twisted together like a cable with a variety of textures. The Goldsbys, who are both biology professors, joked that the chain they gave me represented the double helix of DNA. Hank showed me a variety of other products he had developed, which he was reshaping into a small business. He got out half a dozen silver mussel shells, produced from a few shells brought from the Maine coast to his Tucson workshop, where he had experimented for over a year until he had a mold to produce a pendant that met his meticulous standards. On each one, he pointed out small flaws that had allowed him to refine his technique, so that together they provided a narrative of his patient learning.

pages: 310 words: 89,838

Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample


Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, uranium enrichment, Yogi Berra

Here’s why: synthetic sugar contains equal amounts of left-handed and right-handed sugar molecules. The two kinds are chemically identical, but mirror images of one another. In nature, for reasons unknown, sugar molecules only come in the right-handed variety, the only kind that bacteria will eat. If the bacteria encounter left-handed sugar, they leave it alone. They don’t know how to use it. Handedness is literally built into our genes. The double helix of our DNA is right-handed, as are the amino acids that make it up. The origin of this handedness in nature is one of the most baffling puzzles in biology. In 1984, Stephen Mason, a chemist at King’s College London, found what might be the answer. Particles such as electrons and quarks have a property called “spin” that can be left- or right-handed. The force transmitted by Z particles only affects particles with a left-handed spin.

pages: 417 words: 109,367

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century by Ronald Bailey


3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Cass Sunstein, Climatic Research Unit, Commodity Super-Cycle, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, double helix, energy security, failed state, financial independence, Gary Taubes, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Induced demand, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, price stability, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Stewart Brand, Tesla Model S, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce, yield curve

They self-consciously thought that they were avoiding what they saw as the mistakes made a generation earlier by Manhattan Project nuclear physicists when they unleashed the power of the atom. The initially restrictive guidelines have been greatly relaxed, not least because it turns out that microorganisms are natural and promiscuous exchangers of genes. Reflecting later on the hysteria and rush to regulate, James Watson, codiscoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, for which he won the Nobel Prize, succinctly noted, “Scientifically I was a nut. There is no evidence at all that recombinant DNA poses the slightest danger.” Similarly, biophysicist Burke Zimmerman, who participated in the congressional debates over regulating biotechnology, concluded, “In looking back, it would be hard to insist that a law was necessary, or, perhaps, that guidelines were necessary.”

pages: 327 words: 88,121

The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, assortative mating, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Nate Silver, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

While their counterparts were boring down more heavily into their respective fields of expertise, Watson and Crick were batting different concepts back and forth across a wider range of subjects. They pondered how the individual nucleic acids bonded. How were they sequenced? Slowly, by splicing the information available to them—much of it garnered from evidence published by their competition—their conversations led them to decipher the code: genes were structured in a double helix, a biological language now known as DNA. Watson and Crick’s triumph illustrates the underlying foundation of creative thinking. Trapped in their own intellectual stovepipes, the world’s leading biochemists, physical chemists, and biophysicists had been unable to fit the individual pieces of evidence together into a comprehensible whole. The breadth of Watson and Crick’s exposure rather than the depth of their expertise propelled them to victory.

pages: 332 words: 101,772

Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Life on Drugs by Marc Lewis Phd


dark matter, double helix,, Golden Gate Park, impulse control, Malacca Straits, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea

These two feedback loops amplify each other. As shown in Figure 4, they are interlocked, because that’s how the brain works. But they are even more tightly interlocked in the brain of the addict, in my brain, because they shut out competing inputs, alternative meanings. They go round and round, building on themselves, releasing more dopamine and more glutamate in an ever-tightening spiral, a double helix of neural excitation. Producing a state of directed desire: desire that’s come to a point, so that nothing else matters. It’s not just craving, it’s customized craving, narrowly aimed. An ever-tightening spiral that is the outcome of its own recurrent history of synaptic selection. FIGURE 4. Two feedback loops connecting the orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, ventral tegmental area (VTA), and ventral striatum, through dopamine and glutamate pathways.

pages: 299 words: 98,943

Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization by Stephen Cave

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, back-to-the-land, clean water, double helix, George Santayana, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, life extension, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, stem cell, technoutopianism, the scientific method

It is a nice irony that if Pauling had been allowed to travel to England in 1952 he would most likely have visited the laboratory of a certain young researcher, Rosalind Franklin, at King’s College, London, who was producing detailed images of DNA crystals. Pauling was at the time attempting to deduce the structure of DNA—a fact that, when they heard it, almost made the Cambridge University team including Francis Crick and James Watson give up immediately. But, unlike Pauling, Crick and Watson had seen Franklin’s crucial images and so were able to work out the now-famous double helix structure—a huge leap forward and triumph of the Engineering Approach. It is likely that if Pauling had been allowed to travel, he would have beaten them to it: by denying him a passport, the U.S. government ironically prevented one of the great achievements of twentieth-century science from being claimed by America. In November 1954, it was announced that Linus Pauling was to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

pages: 391 words: 106,394

Misspent Youth by Peter F. Hamilton

double helix, forensic accounting, illegal immigration, informal economy, new economy, Ronald Reagan

Yesterday Brussels had been dominated by the auditors refusing to sign off on the commission accounts for the fifteenth year in a row. But this was different; this was a human story, this was the official discovery of the fountain of youth. A long table had been set up on the raised stage, complete with the traditional glasses of water and silver microphones. Behind it, a huge screen was displaying a colorful double helix that writhed and twisted like a tormented serpent. The senior press officer looked across the audience of familiar cynical faces, took a deep breath to calm his fluttering nerves, and announced that they were ready to begin. President Jean Brèque walked onto the stage first. The press corps politely rose. Rob Lacey, the British prime minister, was next, producing his standardized lopsided smile for the newspool feed cameras.

France (Lonely Planet, 8th Edition) by Nicola Williams


active transport: walking or cycling, back-to-the-land, bike sharing scheme, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, Columbine, double helix, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information trail, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Blériot, Louis Pasteur, low cost carrier, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Murano, Venice glass, pension reform, QWERTY keyboard, ride hailing / ride sharing, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Sloane Ranger, supervolcano, trade route, urban renewal, urban sprawl, V2 rocket

Thrills abound for those with a passion for the unconventional. * * * France’s soulful capital seduces: the Eiffel Tower is the peak of romance. Pop the question Gothic-style in Hôtel St-Merry. Nip north to chink glasses on Champagne’s wine route, or west to the Loire Valley and its châteaux: see love blossoming at Villandry; a drama of passion and betrayal unfold at Chenonceau; or meet your lover on the double-helix staircase at Château de Chambord. Don’t miss Brittany’s haunting Île d’Ouessant. Oysters, for which Cancale is famed, are an aphrodisiac. Tempting to lonely hearts and lovers is Belle Île, with its caves and beaches steeped in legend. Shouting ‘yes’ from a huge sand dune or in the surf on the Atlantic Coast is not a bad idea. Or smooching atop Mont Aigoual or paragliding above Puy de Dôme. Provence and the Côte d’Azur are love at first sight.

The result is an astonishingly rich collection of architectural treasures, ranging from the medieval fortresses of Chinon, Angers and Loches through to the extravagant pleasure palaces of Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau and Chambord. If it’s aristocratic pomp and architectural splendour you’re looking for, the Loire Valley is a place to linger. * * * HIGHLIGHTS Join the Joan of Arc trail in the historic city of Orléans Explore the cloisters and chapels of the Loire Valley’s greatest ecclesiastical complex, Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Climb up the fabulous double-helix staircase to the turret-covered rooftop of Chambord, the Loire Valley’s most over-the-top château Visit the retirement home of the original Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci, at Clos Lucé Admire the fabulous kitchen gardens and floral displays of Villandry Wander around the hobbit houses and mushroom museums of the Troglodyte Valley POPULATION: 2,589,000 AREA: 33,646 SQ KM * * * History The Loire River was one of Roman Gaul’s most important transport arteries.

Though construction was repeatedly halted by financial problems, design setbacks and military commitments (not to mention the kidnapping of the king’s two sons in Spain), by the time Chambord was finally finished 30-odd years later, the castle boasted some 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases, not to mention a cityscape of turrets, chimneys and lanterns crowning its rooftop, and a famous double-helix staircase, supposedly designed by the king’s chum, Leonardo da Vinci. Ironically, François ultimately found his elaborate palace too draughty, preferring the royal apartments in Amboise and Blois – he only stayed here for 42 days during his entire reign from 1515 to 1547. Despite its apparent complexity, Chambord is laid out according to simple mathematical rules. Each section is arranged on a system of symmetrical grid squares around a Maltese cross.

pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku


agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

Instead, he speculated that all life was based on a code of some sort, and that this was encoded on a molecule. By finding that molecule, he conjectured, one could unravel the secret of life. Physicist Francis Crick, inspired by Schrödinger’s book, teamed up with geneticist James Watson to prove that DNA was this fabled molecule. In 1953, in one of the most important discoveries of all time, Watson and Crick unlocked the structure of DNA, a double helix. When unraveled, a single strand of DNA stretches about six feet long. On it is contained a sequence of 3 billion nucleic acids, called A,T,C,G (adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine), that carry the code. By reading the precise sequence of these nucleic acids placed along the DNA molecule, one could read the book of life. The rapid advances in molecular genetics finally led to the creation of the Human Genome Project, truly a milestone in the history of medicine.

pages: 561 words: 120,899

The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant From Two Centuries of Controversy by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne


Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double helix, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, full text search, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, linear programming, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, p-value, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, prediction markets, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, speech recognition, statistical model, stochastic process, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War

., ed. (1978) Quantitative Approaches to Political Intelligence: The CIA Experience. Westview. Hillborn R, Mangel M. (1997) The Ecological Detective: Confronting Models with Data. Princeton University Press. Hively, Will. (1996) The mathematics of making up your mind. Discovery (17) 98(8). Kass, Robert E. (2006) Kinds of Bayesians (Comment on articles by Berger and by Goldstein). Bayesian Analysis (1) 437–40. Kaye, David H. (in press) The Double Helix and the Law of Evidence. Harvard University Press. Kaye DH, Bernstein D, Mnookin J. (2004) The New Wigmore, A Treatise on Evidence: Expert Evidence. Aspen Publishers. Kersten D, Mamassian P, Yuille A. (2004) Object perception as Bayesian inference. Annual Review of Psychology (55) 271–305. Kiani R, Shadlen MN. (2009) Representation of confidence associated with a decision by neurons in the parietal cortex.

pages: 436 words: 140,256

The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond


agricultural Revolution, assortative mating, Atahualpa, Columbian Exchange, correlation coefficient, double helix, Drosophila, European colonialism, invention of gunpowder, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, out of africa, phenotype, Scientific racism, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, the scientific method, trade route, V2 rocket

Four things had to be done before molecular clocks could be applied: find the best molecule; find a quick way of measuring changes in its structure; prove that the clock runs steady (that is, that the molecule's structure really does evolve at the same rate among all species that one is studying); and measure what that rate is. Molecular biologists worked out the first two of these problems by around 1970. The best molecule proved to be deoxyribonucleic acid (abbreviated to DNA), the famous substance whose structure James Watson and Francis Crick showed to consist of a double helix, thereby revolutionizing the study of genetics. DNA is made up of two complementary and extremely long chains, each made up of four types of small molecules whose sequence within the chain carries all the genetic information transmitted from parents to offspring. A quick method of measuring changes in DNA structure is to mix the DNA from two species, then to measure by how many degrees of temperature the melting point of the mixed (hybrid) DNA is reduced below the melting point of pure DNA from a single species.

pages: 474 words: 136,787

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley


affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, assortative mating, Atahualpa, Bonfire of the Vanities, demographic transition, double helix, Drosophila, feminist movement, invention of agriculture, Menlo Park, phenotype, rent control, theory of mind, University of East Anglia, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Thus A pairs with T and vice versa, and C with G and vice versa. This means that there is an automatic way of copying DNA: by going along the strand of the molecule stitching together another from the complementary letters. The sequence AAGTTC becomes, on the complementary strand, TTCAAG: copy that and you get the original sequence back again. Every gene normally consists of a strand of DNA and its complementary copy closely entwined in the famous double helix. Special enzymes move up and down the strands and where they find a break repair it by reference to the complementary strand. DNA is continually being damaged by sunlight and chemicals. If it were not for the repair enzymes, it would quite quickly become meaningless gobbledegook. But what happens when both strands are damaged at the same place? This can be quite common, for example when the two strands get fused together like a spot of glue on a closed zip.

pages: 468 words: 150,206

Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins, Dean Ornish M. D.


Albert Einstein, carbon footprint, clean water, complexity theory, double helix, Exxon Valdez, food miles, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), laissez-faire capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Rosa Parks, telemarketer

It will survive you and your children and your children's children. An irreversible attack on the biosphere is something so unheard of, so unthinkable in previous generations, that I only wish that mine had not been guilty of it." -Erwin Chargaff, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, Columbia University, and discoverer of "Chargaff's Rules," the scientific foundation for the discovery of the DNA double helix' John Fagan is a molecular biologist who for more than twenty years was funded by the National Institutes of Health to conduct genetic engineering research. But in 1994, he returned more than $600,000 to the NIH and withdrew his proposals for another $1.25 million. Then he launched a global campaign to alert the public about the hazards of genetic engineering. According to Dr. Fagan, "Genetic engineers can cut and splice genes very precisely in a test tube, but the process of putting those genes into a living organism is extremely imprecise, inaccurate, and uncontrolled.

pages: 453 words: 132,400

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Albert Einstein, Bonfire of the Vanities, centralized clearinghouse, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, double helix, fear of failure, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, pattern recognition, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Vilfredo Pareto

This may indicate that people who enjoy what they are doing will do a good job of it (although, as we know, correlation does not imply causation). A long time ago, Maurice Schlick (1934) pointed out how important enjoyment was in sustaining scientific creativity. In an interesting recent study, B. Eugene Griessman interviewed a potpourri of high achievers ranging from Francis H. C. Crick, the codiscoverer of the double helix, to Hank Aaron, Julie Andrews, and Ted Turner. Fifteen of these celebrities completed a questionnaire in which they rated the importance of thirty-three personal characteristics, such as creativity, competence, and breadth of knowledge, in terms of helping them achieve success. The item most strongly endorsed (for an average of 9.86 on a 10-point scale) was enjoyment of work (Griessman 1987, pp. 294–95).

pages: 481 words: 120,693

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland


activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, assortative mating, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, call centre, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, double helix, energy security, estate planning, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Gini coefficient, global village, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, high net worth, income inequality, invention of the steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, liberation theology, light touch regulation, linear programming, London Whale, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, open economy, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Solar eclipse in 1919, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, the new new thing, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, Washington Consensus, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

The scientist who best exemplifies the self-fulfilling power of fame is, ironically, the one most of us would immediately name as the twentieth century’s brightest example of pure intellectual genius: Albert Einstein. Einstein was indeed a groundbreaking physicist, whose theory of relativity ushered in the nuclear age and transformed the way we think about the material world. But why is he a household name, while Niels Bohr, who made important contributions to quantum mechanics and developed a model of atomic structure that remains valid today, or James Watson, one of the discoverers of the double helix structure of DNA, is not? According to historian Marshall Missner, Einstein owes much of his power as one of the most influential men of the twentieth century less to his theoretical papers and more to the trip he made to the United States in April 1921 as part of a Zionist delegation led by Chaim Weizmann. Before the ship made landfall, Einstein was already known—and feared. His theory of relativity, first put forward in 1905, had been dramatically confirmed in 1919 by the observation of the deflection of light during the solar eclipse in May of that year.

pages: 736 words: 147,021

Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety by Marion Nestle


Asilomar, biofilm, butterfly effect, clean water, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, illegal immigration, out of africa, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, software patent, Upton Sinclair

• Gene DNA sequences specify the order in which amino acids link to make specific proteins; a sequence of three DNA bases specifies 1 of the 20 amino acids (this is the genetic code). • Proteins are composed of various combinations of the 20 different amino acids linked in a specific order defined by the gene DNA sequence. • Proteins do the work of cells, muscles, and other organs as structural components, signals, or enzymes. • Enzymes catalyze biochemical reactions in the body. • The structure of DNA is helical; its two strands are twisted around each other in a double helix. • Proteins differ from one another in structure; they fold into specific three-dimensional shapes that depend on the sequence of their amino acids (and other components that may be introduced during or after protein synthesis). • The structure of a protein determines its function. These biological features operate in the same way in most organisms. Differences among species depend on the specific order of base sequences in their DNA and, therefore, in the sequence of amino acids in their proteins.

pages: 543 words: 147,357

Them And Us: Politics, Greed And Inequality - Why We Need A Fair Society by Will Hutton


Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, discovery of the americas, discrete time, diversification, double helix, Edward Glaeser, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, money market fund, moral hazard, moral panic, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Neil Kinnock, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, unpaid internship, value at risk, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, zero-sum game, éminence grise

Moreover, an Italian immigrant called Antonio Meucci had declared his invention of a ‘voice telegraphy device’ fully five years earlier, but he had lacked the $10 that was required to register his work. So the telephone would surely have arrived with or without Bell, because the sum of intelligence in the mid-1870s could clearly deliver it. The same could be said of the theory of natural selection, the discovery of DNA’s double helix and even the theory of relativity. Most of the arguments over patents take place because two inventors arrive independently at the same conclusion; and this happens because they both have access to the same stock of knowledge. Obviously, entrepreneurship remains important. Each individual innovator will face specific uncertainties in commercialising his or her innovative advance. There will be unexpected, unanticipated and unbudgetable delays and problems, all of which must be surmounted.

pages: 396 words: 117,149

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos


3D printing, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Markoff, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, off grid, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, zero-sum game

But once Maxwell figured out how a changing electric field gives rise to magnetism and vice versa, it became clear that light itself is an intimate marriage of the two, and today we know that, far from rare, electromagnetism pervades all matter. Mendeleev’s periodic table not only organized all the known elements into just two dimensions, it also predicted where new elements would be found. Darwin’s observations aboard the Beagle suddenly began to make sense when Malthus’s Essay on Population suggested natural selection as the organizing principle. When Crick and Watson hit on the double helix structure as an explanation for the puzzling properties of DNA, they immediately saw how it might replicate itself, and biology’s transition from stamp collecting (in Rutherford’s pejorative words) to unified science had begun. In each of these cases, a bewildering variety of observations turned out to have a common cause, and once scientists identified it, they could in turn use it to predict many new phenomena.

pages: 532 words: 133,143

To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science by Steven Weinberg


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, Commentariolus, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, fudge factor, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, music of the spheres, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

It was particularly distasteful to imagine that humans are the result of millions of years of natural selection acting on random inheritable variations. Eventually the discovery of the rules of genetics and of the occurrence of mutations led in the twentieth century to a “neo-Darwinian synthesis” that put the theory of evolution through natural selection on a firmer basis. Finally this theory was grounded on chemistry, and thereby on physics, through the realization that genetic information is carried by the double helix molecules of DNA. So biology joined chemistry in a unified view of nature based on physics. But it is important to acknowledge the limitations of this unification. No one is going to replace the language and methods of biology with a description of living things in terms of individual molecules, let alone quarks and electrons. For one thing, even more than the large molecules of organic chemistry, living things are too complicated for such a description.

pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins


Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix,, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

Craig Venter, decoder of the human genome “Passionate religious irrationality too often poses serious obstacles to human betterment. To oppose it effectively, the world needs equally passionate rationalists unafraid to challenge long accepted beliefs. Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion.” —James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix “Should be read by everyone from atheist to monk. If its merciless rationalism doesn’t enrage you at some point, you probably aren’t alive.” —Julian Barnes, author of Arthur and George “A magnificent book, lucid and wise, truly magisterial.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement Books by Richard Dawkins THE SELFISH GENE THE EXTENDED PHENOTYPE THE BLIND WATCHMAKER RIVER OUT OF EDEN CLIMBING MOUNT IMPROBABLE UNWEAVING THE RAINBOW A DEVIL’S CHAPLAIN THE ANCESTOR’S TALE THE GOD DELUSION Richard Dawkins THE GOD DELUSION A MARINER BOOK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY Boston • New York Copyright © 2006 by Richard Dawkins Preface © 2008 by Richard Dawkins ALL RIGHTS RESERVED First published in Great Britain by Bantam Press, a division of Transworld Publishers, 2006 For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

pages: 365 words: 117,713

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins


double helix, information retrieval, Necker cube, pattern recognition, phenotype, prisoner's dilemma, zero-sum game

Usurper or not, DNA is in undisputed charge today, unless, as I tentatively suggest in Chapter 11, a new seizure of power is now just beginning. A DNA molecule is a long chain of building blocks, small molecules called nucleotides. Just as protein molecules are chains of amino acids, so DNA molecules are chains of nucleotides. A DNA molecule is too small to be seen, but its exact shape has been ingeniously worked out by indirect means. It consists of a pair of nucleotide chains twisted together in an elegant spiral; the 'double helix'; the 'immortal coil'. The nucleotide building blocks come in only four different kinds, whose names may be shortened to A, T, C, and G. These are the same in all animals and plants. What differs is the order in which they are strung together. A G building block from a man is identical in every particular to a G building block from a snail. But the sequence of building blocks in a man is not only different from that in a snail.

pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial cluster, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, mass immigration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, Pearl River Delta, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

The book of life The study of genes dates back to the 1860s, when an Augustinian friar, Gregor Johann Mendel, patiently bred some 30,000 pea plants and deduced from his monkish observations that the nature of a “child” plant must be due to a combination of dominant and recessive traits inherited from both parents. By around 1900, scientists had figured out that those inherited or “hereditary” traits are carried by chromosomes inside the nucleus of the cell. And by the 1950s, they had located within chromosomes the ultimate vault for our genetic inheritance: a clever, two-strand or “double helix” molecule dubbed DNA. DNA is nature’s language for storing and copying genetic information. It’s digital. But instead of 0s and 1s, each strand comprises a long sequence of A, C, G and T—adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine, which are four simple molecules present in all cells in all living things. These four molecules have a special property: A will only bond with T, and C will only bond with G.

pages: 410 words: 114,005

Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes--But Some Do by Matthew Syed


Airbus A320, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, British Empire, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, crew resource management, deliberate practice, double helix, epigenetics, fear of failure, fundamental attribution error, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, Isaac Newton, iterative process, James Dyson, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, publication bias, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, Yom Kippur War

Before the rise of Lysenko, Russian biology had been flourishing. Dmitry Ivanovsky discovered plant viruses in 1892. Ivan Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1904 for his work on digestion. Ilya Mechnikov won the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his theories on the cellular response to infection. In 1927, Nikolai Koltsov proposed that inherited characteristics are double-stranded giant molecules, anticipating the double helix structure of DNA. By the end of the purges, however, Russian science had been decimated. As Valery Soyfer, a Russian scientist persecuted during the Lysenko era, put it: “The progress of science was slowed or stopped, and millions of university and high school students received a distorted education.”2 This produced a ripple effect on the quality of life for millions of Russians, not least because the agricultural techniques proposed by Lysenko were often ineffective.

Culture and Prosperity: The Truth About Markets - Why Some Nations Are Rich but Most Remain Poor by John Kay


Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, California gold rush, complexity theory, computer age, constrained optimization, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, equity premium, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, experimental economics, Exxon Valdez, failed state, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, George Gilder, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, haute couture, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invention of the telephone, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, John Meriwether, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, late capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson,, popular electronics, price discrimination, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, second-price auction, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, urban decay, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, yield curve, yield management

Relativity, computing, and DNA are probably the most important contributions to twentieth-century knowledge, and also discoveries of great commercial importance. The economic implications of computing are all around us. Relativity not only led to nuclear power but, by redefining modern physics, influenced devices from spaceships to computers. And genetics and biotechnology will transform medicine and nutrition in the next few decades. Relativity, computing, and the double helix are ideas: antibiotics, television, and improved seed varieties are products. Slovenly practices in Alexander Fleming's laboratory led to the discovery that certain molds would kill bacteria. Although practical significance of this discovery seems obvious, it was over a decade before research by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, produced a drug fit for patients. 5 Antibiotics virtually eliminated infectious disease as a cause of death in otherwise healthy adults in rich countries and formed the foundation of the modern pharmaceutical industry

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress


Cepheid variable, double helix, gravity well, index card, indoor plumbing, job automation, phenotype, union organizing

Humor me, Stella—it’s my birthday. I’m old.” “Alice is old,” Stella said, altering the mood instantly. After a moment she said, “I’m sorry.” “Let the kid in. At least it will stop that yelling. What did you say his name was?” “Drew Arlen,” Stella said. In orbit over the Pacific Ocean, the Sanctuary Council broke into spontaneous applause. Fourteen men and women sat around the polished metal table shaped like a stylized double helix in the Council dome. A plastiglass window three feet above the floor ran around the entire dome, occasionally crossed with thin metal support struts. The dome itself sat as close as possible to one end of the cylindrical orbital, so the view from the conference room, which neatly occupied half the Council dome, was appealingly varied. To the “north” stretched agricultural fields, dotted with domes, curving gently upward until lost in the hazy sky.

pages: 405 words: 117,219

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis


3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, millennium bug, Moravec's paradox, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, off grid, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Bioinformatics – the accumulation, tagging, storing, manipulation and mining of digital biological data – is the present, and future, of biology research. The computer metaphor for life is reinforced by its apparently successful application to real problems. Many disruptive new technologies in molecular biology – for instance ‘DNA printing’ – function on the basis of digital information. This is how they do it: DNA is a molecule formed by two sets of base pairs: adenine-thymine (A-T) and guanine-cytosine (G-C). The pairs are stacked along the double helix and their sequence defines the hereditary characteristics of the living being13 whose DNA it is. The sequence is called the ‘genome’.14 Let’s imagine these pairs as Lego pieces. In themselves, they are just pieces of boring chemistry. Put them in the right order, however, and you have the recipe for a complex, living creature. By reshuffling the pieces of base pairs and putting them in different sequences biologists ‘recombine’ DNA molecules.

One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Fick, Nathaniel C.(October 3, 2005) Hardcover by Nathaniel C. Fick


clean water, defense in depth, double helix, friendly fire, John Nash: game theory, Khyber Pass, Silicon Valley

Branches screeched along my trousers, and each broken twig sounded like a rifle shot. I climbed slowly over a small berm and stopped. Below me was a fighting hole. Blankets lined it, and a kettle still hung over a fire. Untouched food was neatly dished onto two plates. Footprints in the dust disappeared into the brush. “Christeson, Stafford, get over here.” The two Marines came running and began walking a double helix along the footprints, cutting back and forth like dogs on a scent. But the hole’s occupants were gone. I imagined two guys, probably my age, told to sit in their hole and shoot at the Americans when they came. They would be protecting their village, their mothers and sisters, from the infidels. Even if they died, they would enter heaven as martyrs to live in eternity with their ninety-nine virgins.

pages: 387 words: 120,092

The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge by Ilan Pappe


affirmative action, Ayatollah Khomeini, Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, double helix, facts on the ground, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, mass immigration, New Journalism, one-state solution, postnationalism / post nation state, stem cell, urban planning, Yom Kippur War

The Globalisation of Israel: McWorld in Tel Aviv, Jihad in Jerusalem, London and New York: Routledge, 2007. Roberts, J. Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe, New York: Dundurn, 2013. Rogan, E. and Shlaim, A. (ed.) The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Rotberg, R. (ed.) Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Conflict: History’s Double Helix, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006. Sand, S. The Words and the Land: Israeli Intellectuals and the Nationalist Myth, London: Semiotext(e), 2011. Shafir, G. and Peled, Y. Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Shatz, A. Prophets Outcast: A Century of Dissident Jewish Writing About Zionism and Israel, New York; Nation Books, 2004.

pages: 270 words: 132,960

Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks


centre right, double helix, gravity well, job satisfaction, oil shale / tar sands, trade route

He turned the glass over in his hands, moving it carefully and smoothly, seemingly fascinated by the roughness of the ground areas and the silky slickness of the unetched parts. He held it up to the sun, his eyes narrowing. The glass sparkled like a hundred tiny rainbows, and minute twists of bubbles in the slender stem glowed golden against the blue sky, spiralling about each other in a fluted double helix. He lowered the glass, slowly, and his gaze fell upon the silent city. He squinted out over the roofs and spires and towers, out over the clumps of trees marking the sparse and dusty parks, and out over the distant serrated line of the city walls to the pale plains and the smoke-blue hills shimmering in the heat haze beyond, beneath a cloudless sky. Without taking his eyes from the view, he suddenly jerked his arm, throwing the glass over his shoulder, back into the cool hall, where it vanished into the shadows and shattered.

pages: 523 words: 143,139

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths


4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, constrained optimization, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, diversification, Donald Knuth, double helix, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, first-price auction, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Henri Poincaré, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, Lao Tzu, Leonard Kleinrock, linear programming, martingale, Nash equilibrium, natural language processing, NP-complete, P = NP, packet switching, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert X Cringely, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, sorting algorithm, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, urban planning, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

More generally, the Nash equilibrium offers a prediction of the stable long-term outcome of any set of rules or incentives. As such, it provides an invaluable tool for both predicting and shaping economic policy, as well as social policy in general. As Nobel laureate economist Roger Myerson puts it, the Nash equilibrium “has had a fundamental and pervasive impact in economics and the social sciences which is comparable to that of the discovery of the DNA double helix in the biological sciences.” Computer science, however, has complicated this story. Put broadly, the object of study in mathematics is truth; the object of study in computer science is complexity. As we’ve seen, it’s not enough for a problem to have a solution if that problem is intractable. In a game-theory context, knowing that an equilibrium exists doesn’t actually tell us what it is—or how to get there.

pages: 382 words: 115,172

The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat by Tim Spector


biofilm, British Empire, Colonization of Mars, cuban missile crisis, David Strachan, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, hygiene hypothesis, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, Steve Jobs

colon: the lower part of the intestines, where most of our bacteria and microbes live and digest the fibre-rich food that hasn’t been absorbed higher up in the small intestine. diabetes: two diseases resulting from too much sugar (glucose) in the blood. The commonest is Type 2, which is related to obesity and to our genes and makes insulin ineffective, causing blood glucose to rise and excessive insulin to be produced in compensation. DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid is the building block of our genetic material; it is arranged as a double helix in 23 chromosomes and contains the roughly 20,000 genes in each cell of our bodies. E. coli: a common bacteria that lives in our colons and can occasionally become pathogenic after infections or antibiotics. endocrine: a term for anything producing hormones (e.g. thyroid or pancreas). endocrine disruptors: chemicals that act epigenetically to alter hormones, e.g. the bisphenol (BPA) in plastic bottles.

pages: 472 words: 117,093

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson

3D printing, additive manufacturing, AI winter, Airbnb, airline deregulation, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backtesting, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, British Empire, business process, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, complexity theory, computer age, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, discovery of DNA, disintermediation, distributed ledger, double helix, Elon Musk,, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, family office, fiat currency, financial innovation, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, law of one price, Lyft, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Plutocrats, plutocrats, precision agriculture, prediction markets, pre–internet, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, transportation-network company, traveling salesman, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, yield management, zero day

If the innovators, researchers, and problem solvers working within the core of organizations in all these fields have not worked hard to keep their skills up to date, the crowd—especially its younger and more recently educated members—will easily be able to beat them. Cutting-edge gene-editing tools, for example, are completely different from what they were just five years ago. This is because of the development in 2012 of CRISPR, a tool kit derived from bacteria like Streptococcus that allows for unprecedented precision in finding, cutting out, and replacing any desired segment on the very long double helix of the DNA molecule. We’ve also seen fast recent changes in artificial intelligence and machine learning (as we discussed in Chapter 3), energy production (thanks to both fracking of oil and gas and very steep declines in the cost of solar power§), and many other fields. When such rapid progress is occurring, the knowledge of the core in organizations within these industries can easily become out of date.

Remix by John Courtenay Grimwood

clean water, delayed gratification, double helix, fear of failure, haute couture, linked data

Her court shoes were ruined, as was the Hermès silk scarf wrapped round her neck. Water ran under the collar of her coat, dripped from black-lacquered fingertips and tumbled from the tiny rat tails of her close-cropped grey hair. But the water running over her cheeks was not rain. Not all of it, anyway. The head of the French Empire’s most feared Directorate was weeping. Looking out at the grey ribbon of the swollen river, staring blankly at where the vast cross-and-double-helix hologram of the Church Geneticist should have been, if only that arrondissement had power, Lady Clare let burning tears stream down her frozen face. There was no one to see her misery, and why should she care even if there was? God knew, there was enough horror in the city for even the most hardbitten Minister of the Empire to be crying. Even one rumoured to be more brittle than glass and sharper than diamond.

pages: 445 words: 114,134

End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

double helix, haute couture

Lady Neku ran through the things she might have done wrong. On balance, she’d have to say she’d been pretty good. Maybe it was her most recent trip to the schloss? But…I mean, she thought, they couldn’t possibly know about that. Of course not. Scuffing dust, Lady Neku slid her way to the middle of the corridor and finished with a quick twirl that left her dizzy and slightly breathless in front of a double helix of steps. The spiral came out behind a tapestry in the audience chamber above. Up close one could see that the tapestry of a girl with a unicorn was stitched, but from a distance the picture looked like a painting. It was very old. Millions of years had been mentioned. Right back to the far side of the Great White, when there was only one inhabited planet and this was it. Of course, millions was relative.

pages: 634 words: 185,116

From eternity to here: the quest for the ultimate theory of time by Sean M. Carroll


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Columbine, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix,, gravity well, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, lone genius, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener,, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Schrödinger's Cat, Slavoj Žižek, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, the scientific method, wikimedia commons

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the book is Schrödinger’s deduction that the stability of genetic information over time is best explained by positing the existence of some sort of “aperiodic crystal” that stored the information in its chemical structure. This insight helped inspire Francis Crick to leave physics in favor of molecular biology, eventually leading to his discovery with James Watson of the double-helix structure of DNA.157 But Schrödinger also mused on how to define “life.” He made a specific proposal in that direction, which comes across as somewhat casual and offhand, and perhaps hasn’t been taken as seriously as it might have been: What is the characteristic feature of life? When is a piece of matter said to be alive? When it goes on ‘doing something’, exchanging material with its environment, and so forth, and that for a much longer period than we would expect an inanimate piece of matter to ‘keep going’ under similar circumstances. 158 Admittedly, this is a bit vague; what exactly does it mean to “keep going,” how long should we “expect” it to happen, and what counts as “similar circumstances”?

pages: 624 words: 180,416

For the Win by Cory Doctorow


barriers to entry, Burning Man, creative destruction, double helix, Internet Archive, inventory management, loose coupling, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, New Journalism, Ponzi scheme, Post-materialism, post-materialism, random walk, RFID, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, slashdot, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, union organizing, urban renewal, wage slave

After three days of doing this, the lawyer came back. Tom Levine was dressed in a stern suit with narrow lapels and a tie pierced with some kind of frat pin. He wasn’t much older than Death, but he made Death feel like a little kid. “I need to talk to you about your Internet activity,” he said, sitting down beside him. He’d brought along a salt-water taffy assortment bought from the roadside, cut into double-helix molecules and other odd biological forms—an amoeba, a skeleton. “OK?” Death said. They’d switched him to something new for the pain that day, and given him a rocker-switch he could use to drizzle it into his IV when it got bad. He’d hit it just before the lawyer came to see him and now he couldn’t concentrate much. Plus he wasn’t used to talking. Writing online was better. He could write something, save it, go back and re-read it later and clean it up if it turned out he’d gone off on a stoned ramble.

pages: 626 words: 181,434

I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter


Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Conway, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, place-making, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, publish or perish, random walk, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telepresence, Turing machine

Being feels very mysterious to me, because, like everyone else, I’m finite and don’t have the ability to see deeply enough into my substrate to make my “I” poof out of existence. If I did, I guess life would be very uninteresting. SL #642: I should think so! SL #641: When we do look down at our fine-grained substrates through scientific experiments, we find small miracles just as Gödelian as is “I”. SL #642: Ah, yes, to be sure — little microgödelinos! But… such as? SL #641: I mean the self-reproduction of the double helix of DNA. The mechanism behind it all involves just the same abstract ideas as are implicated in Gödel’s type of self-reference. This is what John von Neumann unwittingly revealed when he designed a self-reproducing machine in the early 1950’s, and it had exactly the same abstract structure as Gödel’s self-referential trick did. SL #642: Are you saying microgödelinos are self-replicating machines?

pages: 677 words: 206,548

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman


23andMe, 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, data is the new oil, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, don't be evil, double helix, Downton Abbey, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, future of work, game design, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, High speed trading, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, illegal immigration, impulse control, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, license plate recognition, lifelogging, litecoin, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, national security letter, natural language processing, obamacare, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, Parag Khanna, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, RAND corporation, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, security theater, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tesla Model S, The Future of Employment, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, uranium enrichment, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Wave and Pay, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, zero day

Krieger, “Biological Computer Created at Stanford,” San Jose Mercury News, March 29, 2013; Tim Requarth and Greg Wayne, “Tiny Biocomputers Move Closer to Reality,” Scientific American, Nov. 2, 2011; Adam Baer, “Why Living Cells Are the Future of Data Processing,” Popular Science, Nov. 5, 2012. 42 The emerging field: Clay Dillow, “Bio-storage Scheme Turns E. coli Bacteria into Hard Drives,” Popular Science, Jan. 10, 2011. 43 The legendary geneticist: Wyss Institute, “Writing the Book in DNA,” Aug. 16, 2012, http://​wyss.​harvard.​edu/​viewpressrelease/​93/. 44 Not only do such storage techniques: Ibid. 45 Indeed, a whole host: Chiropractic Resource Organization, “NIH Heads Foresee the Future,” http://​www.​chiro.​org/; Helen Thomson, “Deaf People Get Gene Tweak to Restore Natural Hearing,” New Scientist, April 23, 2014. 46 The died-out mammoth: George M. Church, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves (New York: Basic Books, 2012); J. Craig Venter, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life (New York: Viking Adult, 2013). 47 In another example: Kim-Mai Cutler, “Glowing Plant Is One of Y Combinator’s Very First Biotech Startups,” TechCrunch, Aug. 11, 2014. 48 Her estate eventually: Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (New York: Broadway Books, 2011); Moore v. Regents of University of California (1990) 51 Cal. 3d 120 (271 Cal. Rptr. 146, 793 P.2d 479), Justia Law, accessed Sept. 12, 2014, http://​law.​justia.​com/. 49 Why did they: A case of Moore v.

pages: 561 words: 167,631

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson


agricultural Revolution, double helix, full employment, hive mind, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Kuiper Belt, late capitalism, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, phenotype, post scarcity, precariat, retrograde motion, stem cell, strong AI, the built environment, the High Line, Turing machine, Turing test, Winter of Discontent

“Division of labor” in the proteins and what they accomplish is one way to describe the proliferation of replicating forms, but also, it’s a richer brew; it tastes better; there are micro-tastes within the taste. Your RNA will turn amino acids into particular flavors. (The technical term among biologists is “translation.”) Finally some of your RNA will melt together into strands of DNA, a more stable form because of its double helix. Then DNA will take over the role of protein expression, although by way of the creation of messenger RNA. (That would be “transcription.”) Information at that point will move from DNA to RNA to proteins, and the now living cell will reproduce itself, divide up functions in ever-more-versatile larger organisms, and so on. You have cooked up life from scratch! Eat it with gusto. Quantum Walk (1) a street out in a street move naturally be alert don’t make eye contact that will be hard hope is the thing with feathers buildings massed to the sides of the street surface foamed silicate lightly brushed for better footing by a circular broom tines two hundred millimeters apart each sweep erased part of a previous pair of sweeps surcharge and overlap concentricities under the streetlamp reflect the light these disks flaring orange underfoot make a larger disk ahead of you as you walk stars overhead 5:32 a.m. local time I’m letting you out the voice said at the door catch and release some of you need to be free of her so I’m setting free defects the ones that look wild there will be some helpers out there for you then you’ll be on your own don’t look back remember me northern hemisphere latitude 25 sun blocked the eclipse a symbol of the withdrawn god very apt starlight all day we walk in darkness ’tis so appalling it exhilarates leaving this town for another one keep away from doctors scans often can be provided with a proper result don’t meet people’s eyes unless intending to speak don’t mention chess for random sequences anything goes because all strategies do equally poorly thirty qubits strong think fast on the hunt on the run either or superposed a stranger on the edge of town green moss green grass marigold calendula yellow a male scrub jay drops bluely onto flagstone puddle in gap between street and flower strip wall of tram station jay hops in puddle one hop two flies out looks around hops back in hops and steps dips his head in once twice beaks the water rapidly back and forth flies out again he stands there wetly feathers round the head puffed out disarranged wet bird in again beaks the water flaps his wings in the water sudden flurry of gray and blue water drops splashed up into downy feathers on chest again fly out and stand wetly on the flagstone, dripping fly off a small dusk crawls on the village electric tram sealed train carrying the inoculant get on board say nothing no scans leaving this town the command to be free is a double bind cut the knot escape all part of the plan help is out there sit by a window read your wristpad little brother look out the window snowy hills dark under dark clouds snow falling from gray to white luminosity from below land leaking light up through the snow heading north oh to bask in the heat of the sun oh to end this dread eclipse bring back the god low skies humans talking to other humans perpetually they pass the Turing test it isn’t very hard to do ask a question seem distracted data-poor environments inside them or so it would seem by how they speak they need a better test space and place place is security space is freedom bushpeople sat close enough to pass things back and forth without getting up in thousands of square kilometers of empty land they are a social creature ecology of the instant distribution and abundance predict the organism under study predict the future population there are only four changes birth and death immigration and emigration change in population can be represented as B-D+I-E in an empty niche resources are only temporarily unlimited but in those moments life can increase exponentially which distinguishes it from nonlife an infestation population Vinmara 2,367 humans 23 qubes population Cleopatra 652,691 humans 124 qubes population Venus approximately two billion humans 289 qubes diffusion filling a niche contact in Cleopatra meet at train station there on the hunt enact the plan bring back the god sudden rise in temperature the jays the marigold what if a niche is emptied a propagule rain is a constant influx of organisms into an island population from mainland or seedbank thus Earth to the rest of the solar system Earth pours forth its propagule rain no reason to fear the heat of the sun some actions look like predation but are in fact symbiogenesis population rebounds are common after a niche is emptied Wang’s algorithm tram enters a lock air pressure rises 150 millibars louder faces bouncing at head level not that much like petals on a wet black bough an astigmatic metaphor light from the dome yellow and cyan cleopatra rim walk for random sequences anything goes western tanagers yellow and black red heads scrabbling for spilled popcorn their movements take milliseconds followed by frozen moments two or three magnitudes longer sometimes four or five magnitudes thus a visual illusion of instantaneous motion between one stillness and another for each ecstatic instant we must an anguish pay Hey stranger seized by the arm, seventy pounds per square inch eye contact almond-brown irises radially striated by emerald flecks hazel eyes Do you want to play chess?

pages: 589 words: 197,971

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon by Neil Sheehan


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, double helix, European colonialism, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, operation paperclip, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, uranium enrichment

After nine years at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the cancer center in New York, he gained sufficient recognition in the highly specialized field of X-ray microanalysis, a technique to detect and measure concentrations of chemicals in human tissue, that he was able to seek and receive an invitation to spend the academic year of 1962–63 at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University in England, which had continued to be a home of genius. (Most recently, James Watson and Francis Crick had won a Nobel for creating their “double helix” model, the first accurate rendition of a DNA molecule, at the Cavendish in 1953.) The one year turned into twenty-two as Hall and his wife, Joan (she was as intensely left-wing as he was and he had told her everything), and their three daughters settled in at Cambridge and he won international distinction for his work, retiring in 1984 after his research had played itself out. At the request of the FBI, a British counterintelligence officer interrogated him in 1963 in another attempt to crack him, and renewal of his labor permit was held up for a few months.

pages: 843 words: 223,858

The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells


Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Noyce, borderless world, British Empire, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, computerized trading, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, Induced demand, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, intermodal, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, laissez-faire capitalism, Leonard Kleinrock, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, moral panic, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, popular capitalism, popular electronics, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social software, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, urban renewal, urban sprawl, zero-sum game

I think we can say, without exaggeration, that the information technology revolution, as a revolution, was born in the 1970s, particularly if we include in it the parallel emergence and diffusion of genetic engineering around the same dates and places, a development that deserves, to say the least, a few lines of attention. Technologies of life Although biotechnology can be traced all the way back to a 6000 BC Babylonian tablet on brewing, and the revolution in microbiology to the scientific discovery of the basic structure of life, DNA’s double helix, by Francis Crick and James Watson at Cambridge University in 1953, it was only in the early 1970s that gene splicing and recombinant DNA, the technological foundation of genetic engineering, made possible the application of cumulative knowledge. Stanford’s Stanley Cohen and University of California at San Francisco’s Herbert Boyer are generally credited with the discovery of gene-cloning procedures in 1973, although their work was based on research by Stanford’s Nobel Prize winner Paul Berg.

pages: 661 words: 187,613

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker


Albert Einstein, cloud computing, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, elephant in my pajamas, finite state, illegal immigration, Loebner Prize, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, out of africa, P = NP, phenotype, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Saturday Night Live, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, Turing test, Yogi Berra

James Clerk Maxwell formalized the concepts of electromagnetic fields in a set of mathematical equations and is considered the prime example of an abstract theoretician, but he set down the equations only after mentally playing with elaborate imaginary models of sheets and fluids. Nikola Tesla’s idea for the electrical motor and generator, Friedrich Kekulé’s discovery of the benzene ring that kicked off modern organic chemistry, Ernest Lawrence’s conception of the cyclotron, James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of the DNA double helix—all came to them in images. The most famous self-described visual thinker is Albert Einstein, who arrived at some of his insights by imagining himself riding a beam of light and looking back at a clock, or dropping a coin while standing in a plummeting elevator. He wrote: The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be “voluntarily” reproduced and combined….

pages: 846 words: 232,630

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, assortative mating, buy low sell high, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test

We may not yet know exactly how to take all these ideas seriously, but thanks to Darwin's secure beachhead in biology, we know that we can and must. {151} It is small wonder that Darwin didn't hit upon a suitable mechanism of heredity. What do you suppose his attitude would have been to the speculation that within the nucleus of each of the cells in his body there was a copy of a set of instructions, written on huge macromolecules, in the form of double helixes tightly kinked into snarls to form a set of forty-six chromosomes? The DNA in your body, unsnarled and linked, would stretch to the sun and back several — ten or a hundred — times. Of course, Darwin is the man who painstakingly uncovered a host of jaw-dropping complexities in the lives and bodies of barnacles, orchids, and earthworms, and described them with obvious relish. Had he had a prophetic dream back in 1859 about the wonders of DNA, he would no doubt have reveled in it, but I wonder if he could have recounted it with a straight face.

pages: 578 words: 168,350

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, British Empire, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, clean water, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, continuous integration, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Guggenheim Bilbao, housing crisis, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of agriculture, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Marchetti’s constant, Masdar, megacity, Murano, Venice glass, Murray Gell-Mann, New Urbanism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, working poor

He strongly encouraged Perutz, who had been his student, to start a research program along these lines entirely devoted to unraveling the structural mysteries of life. Thus in 1947 was born one of the most successful enterprises in all of science, the Medical Research Council Unit (MRCU) within the famed Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, whose director was Lawrence Bragg. While under Perutz’s guidance the MRCU produced in just a few short years no fewer than nine Nobel prizes, one of which was the famous discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick. What was the secret to Perutz’s extraordinary success? Is there some magic formula he had discovered for optimizing how research should be carried out? If so, how could we exploit it to ensure the future success of the Santa Fe Institute? These were questions that I naturally asked myself when I assumed the leadership of SFI. I learned that Perutz, while maintaining his own research program, gave his researchers independence and treated everyone equally, even turning down a knighthood because he thought it would separate him from younger researchers.

pages: 1,087 words: 325,295

Anathem by Neal Stephenson


anthropic principle, cellular automata, Danny Hillis, double helix, interchangeable parts, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, phenotype, selection bias, Stewart Brand, trade route

It was nearly flat, but bulged up slightly in the middle to shed rainwater. Its stones were graven and inlaid with curves and symbols of cosmography. Around its perimeter, megaliths stood to mark where certain cosmic bodies rose and set at different times of the year. Inside of that ring, several freestanding structures had been erected. The tallest of these, right in the center, was the Pinnacle, wrapped in a double helix of external stairs. Its top was the highest part of the Mynster. The most voluminous structures up here were the twin domes of the big telescope. Dotted around from place to place were a few much smaller telescope-domes, a windowless laboratory where we worked with the photomnemonic tablets, and a heated chapel where Orolo liked to work and to lecture his fids. I led Cord in that direction.

pages: 945 words: 292,893

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson


clean water, Colonization of Mars, Danny Hillis, digital map, double helix, epigenetics, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, kremlinology, Kuiper Belt, microbiome, phenotype, Potemkin village, pre–internet, random walk, remote working, selection bias, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, the scientific method, Tunguska event, zero day, éminence grise

There was a pause in the conversation while she switched control to a different robot and got it moving down the tunnel. “Moving my eyeballs oh so slightly, I see at least three other morphologies in your bestiary.” “The Siwi is adapted from a robot that was made for exploring collapsed buildings. Which in turn was obviously adapted from a snake.” “A sidewinder, presumably, given the name.” “Yeah. The electromagnets are arranged around the Siwi’s body in a double helix, so by turning some on and others off, it can sort of roll diagonally along the surface with minimal power usage.” “The thing that looks like a Buckyball seems to be using a similar trick.” “You nailed the name. We do in fact call those Buckies. Technically speaking, it’s a thing called a—” “Tensegrity.” Dinah felt herself blushing. “Of course, you’d know all about those. Anyway, because it’s big and roughly spherical, it can roll in any direction by playing tricks with electromagnetics and making its struts get longer or shorter.

The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal by M. Mitchell Waldrop


Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Apple II, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Wiener process, zero-sum game

As a scientific prediction, that same analysis was breathtaking: in 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick finally determined the molecular structure of DNA, it would fulfill von Neumann's two requirements exactly. As a genetic program, DNA encodes the instructions for making all the enzymes and struc- tural proteins that the cell needs in order to function. And as a repository of ge- netic data, the DNA double helix unwinds and makes a copy of itself every time the cell divides in two. Nature thus built the dual role of the genetic material into the structure of the DNA molecule itself. In any case, John von Neumann was a very busy man indeed in the late 1940s-to the point where attendees at the Macy meetings began to talk of his "meteoric appearances," when he would show up for no more than half a day, or even just for lunch.

pages: 913 words: 265,787

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, double helix, experimental subject, feminist movement, four colour theorem, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Henri Poincaré, income per capita, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, John von Neumann, lake wobegon effect, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Necker cube, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sexual politics, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, urban decay, Yogi Berra

And, of course, give them a complex shape at an unfamiliar orientation, and they will rotate its image to a familiar one. Many creative people claim to “see” the solution to a problem in an image. Faraday and Maxwell visualized electromagnetic fields as tiny tubes filled with fluid. Kekule saw the benzene ring in a reverie of snakes biting their tails. Watson and Crick mentally rotated models of what was to become the double helix. Einstein imagined what it would be like to ride on a beam of light or drop a penny in a plummeting elevator. He once wrote, “My particular ability does not lie in mathematical calculation, but rather in visualizing effects, possibilities, and consequences.” Painters and sculptors try out ideas in their minds, and even novelists visualize scenes and plots in their mind’s eye before putting pen to paper.

pages: 1,261 words: 294,715

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky

autonomous vehicles, Bernie Madoff, biofilm, blood diamonds, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Brownian motion, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate personhood, corporate social responsibility, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, desegregation, double helix, Drosophila, Edward Snowden,, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, framing effect, fudge factor, George Santayana, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, John von Neumann, Loma Prieta earthquake, long peace, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mohammed Bouazizi, mouse model, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, publication bias, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel, wikimedia commons, zero-sum game

(And multiple copies of the cognate protein can be made from the instructions in a photocopy page of RNA. This sure helps in circumstances where copies of the protein must wind up in each of the thousands of a single neuron’s axon terminals.) This produces what is termed the “central dogma” of life, a concept first framed in the early 1960s by Francis Crick, half of the renowned Watson and Crick, who discovered the “double helix” structure of DNA (with more than a little purloined help from Rosalind Franklin, but that’s another story). Crick’s central dogma holds that the nucleotide sequence of DNA that composes a gene determines how a unique stretch of RNA is put together . . . which determines how a unique stretch of amino acids are put together . . . which determines the shape(s) of the resulting protein . . . which determines that protein’s function.

pages: 1,263 words: 371,402

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois


augmented reality, clean water, computer age, cosmological constant, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, financial independence, game design, gravity well, jitney, John Harrison: Longitude, Kuiper Belt, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Paul Graham, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Skype, stem cell, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, urban renewal, Wall-E

Unless you want to make a faith brigade and pass buckets around the room.” The Adarean shifted, turned his head toward the others, who leaned together, without speaking. A moment later, he said, “We want to honor the spirit of the twentieth century.” That made less sense to Max than anything. Yes, his people wanted to hold time back to the twentieth century, but the Adareans had advanced far beyond that. “What? You mean like the discovery of the double helix, the first genome projects?” “More than that,” the Adarean said. “It’s the great century of political change, of people like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. For the first time in history, people could peacefully oppose their governments; for the first time, without the use of violence, they could force their governments to change. It is the century where technology made real democracy possible, immediate, functional, on a large scale, for the first time ever.”

pages: 1,280 words: 384,105

The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New SF by Gardner Dozois


back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, Columbine, congestion charging, dark matter, Doomsday Book, double helix, Extropian, gravity well, Mason jar, offshore financial centre, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, Turing machine, Turing test, Winter of Discontent, Y2K, zero-sum game

In the three years Devrie had been going to Mass, I had discovered that I was sterile, divorced my second husband, finished my work in entomology, accepted my first position with a museum, and entered a drastically premature menopause. That is not a flip nor random list. After the funeral, I sat in the dark in my father’s study, in his maroon leather chair and at his teak desk. Both felt oversize. All the lights were off. Outside it rained; I heard the steady beat of water on the window, and the wind. The dark room was cold. In my palm I held one of my father’s research awards, a small abstract sculpture of a double helix, done by Harold Landau himself. It was very heavy. I couldn’t think what Landau had used, to make it so heavy. I couldn’t think, with all the noise from the rain. My father was dead, and I would never bear a child. Devrie came into the room, leaving the lights off but bringing with her an incandescent rectangle from the doorway. At sixteen she was lovely, with long brown hair in the masses of curls again newly fashionable.

Lonely Planet France by Lonely Planet Publications


banking crisis, bike sharing scheme, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, Columbine, double helix, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, haute couture, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, illegal immigration, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Blériot, Louis Pasteur, low cost carrier, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Murano, Venice glass, ride hailing / ride sharing, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, supervolcano, trade route, urban renewal, urban sprawl, V2 rocket

Though construction was repeatedly halted by financial problems, design setbacks and military commitments (not to mention the kidnapping of the king’s two sons in Spain), by the time Chambord was finally finished 30-odd years later, the castle boasted some 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases, not to mention a cityscape of turrets, chimneys and lanterns crowning its rooftop, and a famous double-helix staircase, reputedly designed by the king’s chum, Leonardo da Vinci. Ironically, François ultimately found his elaborate palace too draughty, preferring the royal apartments in Amboise and Blois; he stayed here for only 42 days during his entire reign from 1515 to 1547. Despite its apparent complexity, Chambord is laid out according to simple mathematical rules. Each section is arranged on a system of symmetrical grid squares around a Maltese cross.