epigenetics

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pages: 357 words: 98,854

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

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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

They are all examples of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the new discipline that is revolutionising biology. Whenever two genetically identical individuals are non-identical in some way we can measure, this is called epigenetics. When a change in environment has biological consequences that last long after the event itself has vanished into distant memory, we are seeing an epigenetic effect in action. Epigenetic phenomena can be seen all around us, every day. Scientists have identified many examples of epigenetics, just like the ones described above, for many years. When scientists talk about epigenetics they are referring to all the cases where the genetic code alone isn’t enough to describe what’s happening – there must be something else going on as well. This is one of the ways that epigenetics is described scientifically, where things which are genetically identical can actually appear quite different to one another.

But in the 21st century it is the new scientific discipline of epigenetics that is unravelling so much of what we took as dogma and rebuilding it in an infinitely more varied, more complex and even more beautiful fashion. The world of epigenetics is a fascinating one. It’s filled with remarkable subtlety and complexity, and in Chapters 3 and 4 we’ll delve deeper into the molecular biology of what’s happening to our genes when they become epigenetically modified. But like so many of the truly revolutionary concepts in biology, epigenetics has at its basis some issues that are so simple they seem completely self-evident as soon as they are pointed out. Chapter 1 is the single most important example of such an issue. It’s the investigation which started the epigenetics revolution. Notes on nomenclature There is an international convention on the way that the names of genes and proteins are written, which we adhere to in this book.

Interestingly, though, they also found that even the MZ twins differed in their DNA methylation patterns, suggesting identical twins begin to diverge epigenetically during development in the uterus. Combining the information from the two papers, and from additional studies, we can conclude that even genetically identical individuals are epigenetically distinct by the time of birth, and these epigenetic differences become more pronounced with age and exposure to different environments. Of mice and men (and women) These data are consistent with a model where epigenetic changes could account for at least some of the reasons why MZ twins aren’t phenotypically identical, but there’s still a lot of supposition involved. That’s because for many purposes humans are a quite hopeless experimental system. If we want to be able to assess the role of epigenetics in the problem of why genetically identical individuals are phenotypically different from one another, we would like to be able to do the following: Analyse hundreds of identical individuals, not just pairs of them; Manipulate their environments, in completely controlled ways; Transfer embryos or babies from one mother to another, to investigate the effects of early nurture; Take all sorts of samples from the different tissues of the body, at lots of different time points; Control who mates with whom; Carry out studies on four or five generations of genetically identical individuals.


pages: 357 words: 98,853

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

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

It certainly seems to involve the epigenetic system again, resulting in the deposition of repressive epigenetic modifications on the protein-coding genes. If key epigenetic genes such as the major repressor that we met in Chapter 9 are knocked out in developing embryos, some of the imprinted genes that would normally be switched off are expressed.6 It’s not just restricted to the major repressor either, as knockout of other epigenetic genes that establish repressive histone modifications has similar effects.7,8 This demonstrates the importance of the epigenetic system in carrying out the instructions of the long non-coding RNA. It’s likely this is because the long non-coding RNA attracts these enzymes to the imprinted cluster, thereby targeting the histone modifications to the protein-coding genes. Epigenetic modifications are also present at the ICE itself.

These in turn can attract proteins that continue to add repressing epigenetic modifications, to prevent escape from inactivation. But we can imagine that the borders of the repression are quite vague, because the epigenetic machinery doesn’t recognise specific DNA sequences. So, at the periphery of the repressed regions, the epigenetic modifications could spread out. Halting the spread Our cells have evolved a remarkable way to prevent this. Just as fire crews will cut down stands of trees or blow up buildings to create a gap in the path of an inferno, our genome removes the fuel for the epigenetic machinery. Junk DNA that acts as an insulator between repressed and active regions of the genome loses its histone proteins. No histone proteins means no epigenetic histone modifications. No modifications means no spreading of epigenetic activity. This stops repressive modifications creeping into active genes and also prevents the opposite effect.

Keeping the ancient aliens quiet Long non-coding RNAs clearly interact with and help regulate the function of epigenetic proteins. But it would be a mistake to think this is the only way in which junk talks to the epigenetic system. Far from it. We saw in Chapter 4 that the human genome has been invaded by vast numbers of repetitive DNA elements and how important it is that these are kept switched off. Some researchers have gone so far as to speculate that epigenetic control of gene expression may originally have evolved to keep certain junk regions under control.14 It was only later that the epigenetic system struck out into new territory of regulating normal endogenous genes. A really striking example of the interplay between junk DNA, epigenetics and the final appearance and behaviour of a mammal can be found in a mouse strain called the Agouti viable yellow mouse.


pages: 220 words: 66,518

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

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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

Males have often been accused of thinking with their gonads, so it’s not entirely surprising that science has inadvertently confused the nucleus with the cell’s brain! Epigenetics: The New Science of Self-Empowerment Genes-as-destiny theorists have obviously ignored hundred-year old science about enucleated cells, but they cannot ignore new research that undermines their belief in genetic determinism. While the Human Genome Project was making headlines, a group of scientists were inaugurating a new, revolutionary field in biology called epigenetics. The science of epigenetics, which literally means “control above genetics,” profoundly changes our understanding of how life is controlled. (Pray 2004; Silverman 2004) In the last decade, epigenetic research has established that DNA blueprints passed down through genes are not set in concrete at birth. Genes are not destiny!

Signal transduction science recognizes that the fate and behavior of an organism is directly linked to its perception of the environment. In simple terms, the character of our life is based upon how we perceive it. Second, the new science of Epigenetics, which literally means “control above the genes,” has completely upended our conventional understanding of genetic control. Epigenetics is the science of how environmental signals select, modify, and regulate gene activity. This new awareness reveals that our genes are constantly being remodeled in response to life experiences. Which again emphasizes that our perceptions of life shape our biology. Months after this book was first published, an article in one of the most prestigious journals, Nature, revealed exciting new epigenetic insights on how the environment controls gene activity in stem cells, which coincidently is the same subject and conclusion I offer in Chapter 2.

As a result, the activity of the gene is “controlled” by the presence or absence of the ensleeving proteins, which are in turn controlled by environmental signals. The story of epigenetic control is the story of how environmental signals control the activity of genes. It is now clear that the Primacy of DNA chart described earlier is outmoded. The revised scheme of information flow should now be called the “Primacy of the Environment.” The new, more sophisticated flow of information in biology starts with an environmental signal, then goes to a regulatory protein and only then goes to DNA, RNA, and the end result, a protein. The science of epigenetics has also made it clear that there are two mechanisms by which organisms pass on hereditary information. Those two mechanisms provide a way for scientists to study both the contribution of nature (genes) and the contribution of nurture (epigenetic mechanisms) in human behavior. If you only focus on the blueprints, as scientists have been doing for decades, the influence of the environment is impossible to fathom.


pages: 435 words: 95,864

Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

epigenetics, fear of failure, impulse control, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

The Really Good News As scientists have learned more about how childhood adversity becomes biologically embedded, they have also learned how we can intervene in this process to reverse the damage of early stress—no matter whether we grew up in a happy, functional family or an often unhappy, dysfunctional one. And no matter what happened to us when we were young. “The beauty of epigenetics is that it’s reversible, and the beauty of the brain is that it’s plastic,” says McCarthy. “There are many ways that we can immuno-rehabilitate the brain to overcome early negative epigenetic changes so that we can respond normally to both pleasure and pain. The brain can restore itself.” We can heal those early scars to get back to who it is we really are, who we might have been had we not faced so much adversity in the first place. But to do that, we first have to understand why we may be more prone to epigenetic changes than others in the first place, even though we are no less capable of epigenetic reversal and change. CHAPTER THREE Why Do Some Suffer More than Others? Not everyone’s health is sabotaged by unremitting, unpredictable stress in childhood.

“Early stress causes changes in the brain that reset the immune system so that either you no longer respond to stress or you respond in an exacerbated way and can’t shut off that stress response,” she says. This change to our lifelong stress response happens through a process known as epigenetics. Epigenetic changes occur when early environmental influences both good (nurturing caregivers, a healthy diet, clean air and water) and bad (stressful conditions, poor diet, infections, or harmful chemicals) permanently alter which genes become active in the body. These epigenetic shifts take place due to a process called gene methylation. McCarthy explains, “Our DNA is not just sitting there. It’s wrapped up very tightly and coated in protected proteins, which together make up the chromosome. It doesn’t matter what your genome is; what matters is how your genome is expressed.

In other words, when a child is young and his brain: I’ve based this description of Michael Meaney’s gene methylation theory on that provided in an article by Paul Tough, “The Poverty Clinic,” The New Yorker (March 21, 2011), 25–30. For more on how childhood adversity is associated with epigenetic alterations in the promoters of several genes in hippocampal neurons, see B. Labonté, M. Suderman, G. Maussion, et al., “Genome-Wide Epigenetic Regulation by Early Life Trauma,” Archives of General Psychiatry 69, no. 7 (July 2012), 722–31. Kaufman found significant differences in epigenetic markers: N. Weder. H. Zhang, K. Jensen, et al., “Child Abuse, Depression, and Methylation in Genes Involved with Stress, Neural Plasticity, and Brain Circuitry,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 53, no. 4 (April 2014), 417–24.e5.


pages: 380 words: 104,841

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

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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 McGill study, researchers were able to undo the chilly behavior of the second generation of mother rats by using epigenetic drugs to turn genes on or off. The great promise of epigenetics is the possibility of curing cancer, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and autism by simply flipping the switches that tell some genes to wake up or work overtime, and others to lighten up or nap. Can we really hypnotize our genes like that, canceling out bad behavior and sparing innocent offspring before we plan to have any? The consensus is yes. Scientists have begun developing drugs such as azacitidine (given to patients with certain blood disorders) capable of silencing bum genes and spurring on healing ones. Many illnesses, such as ALS and autism, appear to be epigenetic, which puts them within reach. Three different types of epigenetic drug therapy are being actively investigated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other major psychoses.

Three different types of epigenetic drug therapy are being actively investigated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other major psychoses. The FDA has already approved several epigenetic drugs, and in 2008 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared epigenetics “central” to biology and committed $190 million to understanding “how and when epigenetic processes control genes.” The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, rightly celebrated as a wonder of human ingenuity, had only twenty-five thousand genes to map. The epigenome is much more complicated, with millions of telltale marks. So a full epigenome will take a while, but an international Human Epigenome Project is under way. The good news is that these are problems with possible, if not simple, solutions: ban more environmental toxins known to trigger epigenetic havoc; work harder to ease famine, reduce poverty, and repair the ravages of war; and help people understand the long-term impact of their actions and the vital role that nurture plays in their families, societies, and environment.

Gifted with the same libretto of genes, life forms intone them differently, and our own cells morph into skin, bone, lips, liver, blood. Epigenetics is providing clues to how this tonal magic is performed. Pembrey’s fascinating hypothesis is that the Industrial Age ushered in a flood of rapid-fire environmental and social changes, and while genetic evolution struggled to keep up with them, it couldn’t adapt that fast. The speed of change was unprecedented, and our genes don’t evolve in just a few generations. But certain “epigenetic tags” clinging to those genes could. So the pesticides or hydrocarbons your great-grandmother was exposed to when she was pregnant may heighten the risk of ovarian disease in you, and you in turn might pass that risk on to your grandchildren. Ovarian cancer has been increasing to affect more than 10 percent of women over the past few decades, and environmental epigenetics offers a plausible reason why.


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

New Age gurus and gullible journalists cite epigenetics as a way of changing your life, under the false supposition that genes are destiny, and epigenetic changes brought on by lifestyle choices such as meditation ‘allows us almost unlimited influence on our fate’, to quote the supreme New Age guru, Deepak Chopra. I suppose that really depends on what you mean by ‘fate’. If you are fated to digest your lunch, then yes, epigenetics will play a key part. If you are destined to go to sleep tonight, your epigenetic tagging will change accordingly. There will be other, perhaps less trivial epigenetic modifications during your life. Methyl tagging can affect genes that are involved in cancers, and indeed drugs are being developed that reverse epigenetic tagging in order to reactivate erroneously muted genes.

So, in every cell, one X – selected randomly – is permanently labelled with epigenetic methyl tags, which effectively redacts the whole chromosome. Many individual genes are modulated like this too, and many corresponding traits are dependent on this system. Rat mothers lick their pups, and those that are licked less have measurably higher stress levels, which correlates with less epigenetic tagging on genes associated with stress. Some breeds of mice can be given foods that alter epigenetic expression of a gene that is involved in their coat colour, which also has the knock-on effect of making them heavier and more prone to cancer. That sandwich you just ate, that triggered some epigenetic changes in your body as a way of modulating what genes you need to be active over the next few minutes and hours as you digest it. Epigenetics is a very important part of normal biology and an area that is blossoming, as new techniques are being developed to measure how the tagging takes place and in response to environmental triggers.

We don’t yet know about the permanence of the effects in humans, we’re just annoyingly slow to grow like that. Creationists (and others unencumbered by facts) cite epigenetics to assert that Darwin was wrong, and that these transgenerational epigenetic studies show Lamarckian evolution. They don’t, as the changes are not perpetual and do not change the DNA sequence itself, on which natural selection acts. Even the few inherited epigenetic changes we observe are not very predictable, let alone predictably positive. The Överkalix grandsons lived longer if their grandfathers lived through famine. But the granddaughters of women who had survived fallow seasons had lower life expectancy. Conclusion? Inconclusive. More work needed. Even if, one day, we did show that epigenetic tags were permanently heritable and therefore could be selected, it would still only be a drop in the evolutionary ocean.


The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, a Nd My Life by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

back-to-the-land, epigenetics, index card, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, place-making, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

. *** A LITTLE PERTURBED by all that I’ve learned—and concerned that it might be too late to change the brain that I now have—I reach out to neuroscientist Margaret McCarthy, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. McCarthy conducts research into how epigenetics impacts nuances of behavior and mental health. The good news, she reminds me, is that the brain is an epigenetically privileged place not just in terms of creating negative changes, but positive ones as well. “Our brains are malleable,” she reassures me. “Scientists are now of the mind that DNA methylation can come and go. And it may be that the reason why approaches such as meditation and mindfulness have such power is that they undo bad epigenetics or even induce new, good epigenetics.” I like that. Our current behavior can rewrite our epigenetic future. We can do something about the impact our ACEs have had on us, even decades after the fact, and begin to amend our biological glitches, no matter what caused them.

This occurs through a process known as epigenetics: biological changes that affect the expression of our genes— in this case, the genes that govern our stress hormone receptors in the brain. Here’s how epigenetics works. Every cell in the body has the full set of chromosomes and contains all of our DNA. But the reason why one cell, during embryonic development, becomes a skin cell versus a bone cell or eye cell is because most of the genes that could be expressed are turned off. They get switched off by an epigenetic process called gene methylation in which small chemical markers, or methyl groups, adhere to specific genes, silencing them. This gene silencing is permanent, which is why we don’t grow eyes in the back of our head. But scientists are beginning to realize that the brain is an epigenetically “privileged” place.

They become even more likely than other people to develop positive and beneficial psychological characteristics. They do better than dandelions. Why does all this matter? Growing scientific consensus tells us that efforts to meditate and retrain the brain might help to rewrite bad epigenetics and even induce new, better epigenetics. Undo the damage of gene methylation, or what some scientists now term our “DNA memories.” The sensitivity hypothesis, when viewed alongside ACE research, suggests that perhaps those who are most likely to end up facing chronic adult health issues as the result of ACEs are also those who are best able to turn their bad epigenetics into good epigenetics. No matter who you are—regardless of your experience or your genetics—it is quite possible to engage in regular practices that downshift the fight-or-flight response and grow new, healthier neural and chemical pathways, simply by adjusting your psychological state of mind.

The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain by James Fallon

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Bernie Madoff, epigenetics, Everything should be made as simple as possible, meta analysis, meta-analysis, personalized medicine, phenotype, Rubik’s Cube, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell, theory of mind

So your daughter, her great-granddaughter, under other teenage stressors, and with a plentiful food supply, responded by putting on weight to the point where she now resembles the plump but hearty teenager her great-grandmother became when the famine ended in her homeland eighty years ago. Some of these effects are dependent on whether the ancestor was male or female, since certain genes are “imprinted” on either the paternal or maternal side of the family. The epigenetic tag is one of many alterations to the genetic code that can be induced by environmental stressors. This is one of the core mechanisms underlying the interaction of nature and nurture. While there have been numerous recent studies on the role of epigenetic interactions on metabolism, cancer, and susceptibility to infectious and immune diseases, it is also a key to understanding some psychiatric disorders, from schizophrenia to psychopathy. One of my favorite scenes from the 1968 film Charly that so affected my career choice is the one in which the cognitively awakened title character goes to his teacher/therapist’s chalkboard and writes, “that that is is that that is not is not is that it it is,” and asks her what it says.

Normally the transcribed message from the DNA to the RNA would be translated into the protein, here the mature and sensical sentences “That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is that it? It is.” But environmental stressors can induce epigenetic tags to be added on to some of the original genetic DNA, so that the punctuation, the spacing of the words, the text formatting in general, can be altered to produce a slightly different meaning: “That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is that it? It is?” Same words, same sequence, but a final question mark added changes the thrust of the message. This slight “epigenetic” change to the sentence’s intended “genetic” meaning is different from an actual mutation. In a mutation, the actual spelling of the sentence is changed, either by inserting a letter (or more) or deleting an existing letter.

In a similar sense, the genome is the book you inherited at birth, the epigenome is the way you read that book. Another way of looking at the epigenome function is to consider the new car you buy from the dealer. All that original hardware is like your genome, while alterations you might make to soup it up, give it some more pep, or, for your daughter, slow it down, are like the epigenetic modifications. Epigenetic alterations are one of several reasons why identical twins are not identical. Even with identical raw genetic codes, differences in early environment, whether overly stressful or more positively enriching, can change their behaviors down the line as teenagers and adults. Identical twins can also have different numbers of the same genes inherited from one parent or another, and this can also alter how the identical twins look and behave.


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, en.wikipedia.org, 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

Moreover, Stephen Suomi of the National Institutes of Health and Szyf found that mothering style in monkeys has epigenetic effects on more than a thousand frontocortical genes.* This is totally revolutionary. Sort of. Which segues to a chapter summary. CONCLUSIONS Epigenetic environmental effects on the developing brain are hugely exciting. Nonetheless, curbing of enthusiasm is needed. Findings have been overinterpreted, and as more researchers flock to the subject, the quality of studies has declined. Moreover, there is the temptation to conclude that epigenetics explains “everything,” whatever that might be; most effects of childhood experience on adult outcomes probably don’t involve epigenetics and (stay tuned) most epigenetic changes are transient. Particularly strong criticisms come from molecular geneticists rather than behavioral scientists (who generally embrace the topic); some of the negativity from the former, I suspect, is fueled by the indignity of having to incorporate the likes of rat mothers licking their pups into their beautiful world of gene regulation.

As emphasized in the last chapter, epigenetic changes can be multigenerational.8 Dogma was that all the epigenetic marks (i.e., changes in the DNA or surrounding proteins) were erased in eggs and sperm. But it turns out that epigenetic marks can be passed on by both (e.g., make male mice diabetic, and they pass the trait to their offspring via epigenetic changes in sperm). Recall one of the great punching bags of science history, the eighteenth-century French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.9 All anybody knows about the guy now is that he was wrong about heredity. Suppose a giraffe habitually stretches her neck to reach leaves high in a tree; this lengthens her neck. According to Lamarck, when she has babies, they will have longer necks because of “acquired inheritance.”* Lunatic! Buffoon! Epigenetically mediated mechanisms of inheritance—now often called “neo-Lamarckian inheritance”—prove Lamarck right in this narrow domain.

The field of “epigenetics” concerns how some hormonal organizational effects arise from permanently turning particular genes on or off in particular cells.75 Plenty more on this in the next chapter. This helps explain why your toes and nose work differently. More important, epigenetic changes also occur in the brain. This domain of epigenetics was uncovered in a landmark 2004 study by Meaney and colleagues, one of the most cited papers published in the prestigious journal Nature Neuroscience. They had shown previously that offspring of more “attentive” rat mothers (those that frequently nurse, groom, and lick their pups) become adults with lower glucocorticoid levels, less anxiety, better learning, and delayed brain aging. The paper showed that these changes were epigenetic—that mothering style altered the on/off switch in a gene relevant to the brain’s stress response.* Whoa—mothering style alters gene regulation in pups’ brains.


pages: 465 words: 103,303

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

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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

On the other hand, the production of too many tags might inactivate a tumor suppressor gene that would normally hold mitosis in check. Freed to proliferate, the cell would be vulnerable to more copying errors. So epigenetic changes would lead to genetic changes—and these genetic changes could conceivably affect methylation, triggering more epigenetic changes … and round and round it goes. Outside the laboratory enthusiasm for this scenario is driven both by hope and by fear. Epigenetics might provide a way for a substance to act as a carcinogen even though it has been shown incapable of breaking DNA. But unlike genetic damage, these changes might be reversible. How big a role epigenetics plays remains uncertain. Like everything that happens in a cell, methylation and the modification of histones are controlled by genes—and these have been found to be mutated in different cancers.

[http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2841597] 3. “For decades now”: Hanahan and Weinberg, “The Hallmarks of Cancer” (italics added). 4. don’t necessarily have to occur through mutations: The seminal paper on epigenetics is Andrew P. Feinberg and Bert Vogelstein, “Hypomethylation Distinguishes Genes of Some Human Cancers from Their Normal Counterparts,” Nature 301, no. 5895 (January 6, 1983): 89–92. [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v301/n5895/abs/301089a0.html] For a historical overview see Andrew P. Feinberg and Benjamin Tycko, “The History of Cancer Epigenetics,” Nature Reviews Cancer 4, no. 2 (February 2004): 143–53. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14732866] Epigenetic changes in germ cells—sperm or eggs—might even be passed from parent to child, though the significance of that is uncertain. 5. found to be mutated in different cancers: Päivi Peltomäki, “Mutations and Epimutations in the Origin of Cancer,” Experimental Cell Research 318, no. 4 (February 15, 2012): 299–310.

Methyl groups and other molecules can bind to the helix itself or to its protein core and cause the whole assembly to flex. As that happens some genes are exposed and others are obscured. Alterations like these, which change a cell’s function while leaving its DNA otherwise unscathed, are called epigenetic. “Epi-,” coming from ancient Greek, can mean “over,” “above,” “upon.” Just as a cell has a genome, it also has an epigenome—a layer of software overlying the hardware of the DNA. Like the genome itself the epigenome is preserved and passed on to daughter cells. What all this suggests is that cancer may not be only a matter of broken genes. Disturbances to a cell—carcinogens, diet, or even stress—might rearrange the epigenetic tags without directly mutating any DNA. Suppose that a methyl group normally keeps an oncogene—one that stimulates cellular division—from being expressed. Remove the tag and the cell might start dividing like crazy.


pages: 336 words: 93,672

The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists by Gary Marcus, Jeremy Freeman

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Recent work from the laboratories of Michael Meaney and Frances Champagne indicates that variation in early development induces epigenetic variation (in DNA methylation for example) and may serve as a mechanism for developmental plasticity. For example, alterations in nutrition, stress, and maternal care early in life can trigger these epigenetic mechanisms and generate anatomical and functional changes to the brain and body, which alters behavior of the offspring. These alterations in behavior can be sustained across generations via epigenetic effects on portions of the neuroendocrine system, or in some instances persist through epigenetic effects on the germ line. The dramatic role that epigenetic mechanisms play in shaping brain and behavior is well exemplified in humans. Anatomical alterations to the hand necessary for complex bimanual dexterity; to the supralaryngeal tract necessary for speech production; and to the inner ear, which amplifies frequencies associated with human speech, were present well before these behaviors that we attribute to modern humans were expressed within the population.

It is becoming more and more apparent that epigenetic mechanisms—which alter transcription or expression of genes—are critical for constructing a brain that is highly adapted to the context in which it develops and in which the animal will ultimately live. Conrad Waddington first used the term epigenetics in the middle of the last century in an effort to explain cellular differentiation during development. If there is a one-to-one correspondence between DNA and the phenotype, then every somatic cell in the body (which contains exactly the same genotype) would be identical. Instead, the phenotypes of cells vary from brain cells (neurons) to liver cells. Because of this, Waddington proposed that the mechanisms through which a genotype produces a phenotype should be termed epigenetics. Considering that cellular phenotypes undergo dramatic plasticity during development while the genotype of these cells remains stable implicit in Waddington’s definition is the notion that a phenotype can be altered without changes to the genotype.

Thus during the course of development, epigenetic mechanisms (such as DNA methylation, a biochemical process that reduces gene expression in specific portions of the brain and body) allow cells with the same DNA to differentiate and divide, passing on those alterations in gene function, not explained by alterations in DNA sequence, to daughter cells. If we expand this concept to take into account the fact that an organism does not remain static throughout the lifespan, but rather it dynamically responds to social and environmental contexts, then epigenetic mechanisms might also mediate the adaptability of brain and behavior to the environment. Recent work from the laboratories of Michael Meaney and Frances Champagne indicates that variation in early development induces epigenetic variation (in DNA methylation for example) and may serve as a mechanism for developmental plasticity.


pages: 382 words: 115,172

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

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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

The other components of soy such as endocrine disruptors like genistein, mentioned earlier, are regularly contained in infant feeds in amounts large enough to be a potential worry. Concern here is because the first three years of life are crucial for the normal development of a child, when the genes are constantly changing and fine-tuning their functions so as to produce new proteins. Given that the isoflavones in soy have such significant and usually beneficial epigenetic effects in cancer, we should be more cautious when considering whether to give soy to susceptible babies. When you combine the epigenetic effects of soy with other known endocrine disruptor chemicals like bisphenol (BPA), which is in many babies’ plastic bottles, you could be preparing a dangerous cocktail.8 Seaweed suppers An unusual source of protein is seaweed, although to get health-giving amounts you would need to spend your day in sushi bars, since protein makes up only about 2 per cent of the content of marine algae; the rest is hard-to-digest carbohydrate starch.

Some anxious pregnant women take five to ten times the recommended dose of folate (just in case). Studies show that folate can epigenetically switch off some of the protective genes of both the mother and the baby, and in a high dose could be having other effects such as increasing the risk of allergy, asthma and breast cancer (apart from reducing the risk of leukaemia).8 Other meta-analyses of randomised trials in 27,000 patients with heart disease have shown that folate supplements at 2 to 5 milligrams have no cardiac benefit, and have suggested that excess folate (over 5 mg a day) might increase the risk of heart vessel re-blockage in some people.9 Other studies showed no benefits for infertility, and even a suggestion that it might increase the risk of it.10 The mechanism is uncertain, and epigenetic changes to our genes could be a significant factor. In rat mothers fed large amounts of folate supplements, more health problems occur in their offspring, such as diabetes or altered neural brain connections.11 Broccoli sprouts or broccoli extract?

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. epidemiology: the study of large groups or populations in order to discover the causes of disease. epigenetic: describes mechanisms by which chemical signals can switch genes on and off without altering the DNA structure. A normal process in babies and growth, which can be altered by diet and chemicals for up to several generations. fat: a term with many different meanings. Scientifically synonymous with lipids.


pages: 404 words: 124,705

The Village Effect: How Face-To-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter by Susan Pinker

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assortative mating, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, facts on the ground, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, Occupy movement, old-boy network, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, Ray Oldenburg, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Pinker, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tony Hsieh, urban planning, Yogi Berra

It would take many generations for a mutation that was perfectly adapted to global warming to thrive, for example. But epigenetic transformation is fast, allowing the genome to “respond to the environment without having to change its hardware,” Jirtle explains. If we think of the genome as the computer’s hardware, then “epigenetics is the software. It’s just so darn beautiful if you think about it.”39 It is beautiful, if only because we now have a way to understand how something as simple as holding an infant against your chest can transform the baby’s developing synapses. This close contact provides the baby with clues about whether it’s a safe and predictable world. But if something goes wrong and adversity interferes with the parent–child pas de deux, the rupture in human contact communicates to the vulnerable infant that its system should be on high alert. Epigenetics translates environmental threats into chemical signals that activate—or silence—the gene clusters that govern the baby’s metabolism and endocrine systems.

., “The Benefits of Social Capital: Close Social Bonds among Female Baboons Enhance Offspring Survival,” Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences 2009, no. 276 (2009); J. B. Silk, D. S. Alberts, and J. Altmann, “Social Bonds of Female Baboons Enhance Infant Survival,” Science 302 (2003); Cheney and Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics. 39. Leslie A. Pray, “Epigenetics: Genome, Meet Your Environment,” The Scientist, Juy 4, 2004. 40. L. H. Lumey, “Decreased Birthweights in Infants after Maternal in Utero Exposure to the Dutch Famine of 1944–1945,” Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 6, no. 2 (1992); Bastiaan Heijmans et al., “Persistent Epigenetic Differences Associated with Prenatal Exposure to Famine in Humans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105, no. 44 (2008). 41. G. Kaati, L. O. Bygren, and S. Edvinsson, “Cardiovascular and Diabetes Mortality Determined by Nutrition during Parents’ and Grandparents’ Slow Growth Period,” European Journal of Human Genetics 10, no. 11 (2002); Marcus Pembrey et al., “Sex-Specific, Male-Line Transgenerational Responses in Humans,” European Journal of Human Genetics 14 (2006). 42.

Then the researchers put them in a cage liberally sprinkled with fox urine, a signal that a predator was lurking nearby. In response, the social isolates secreted ten times more corticosteroids (hormones released from the adrenal gland when mammals are stressed out) than a control group of female rats raised in social groups. This exaggerated biological response changed their behavior, making the rats less willing to explore their environment. It also had epigenetic effects, altering the way genes were expressed in their mammary glands. If you’re a rat, the scent of fox urine is unnerving. If you’re a human, you’re likely to be stressed out by something else, such as public speaking, being bullied by your boss, or missing the last train to Clarksville. Whatever makes you sweat, Martha McClintock’s research tells us that as mammals we need stable social contact at the beginning of life in order to cope with stress later on.


pages: 600 words: 174,620

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van Der Kolk M. D.

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anesthesia awareness, British Empire, conceptual framework, deskilling, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, false memory syndrome, feminist movement, impulse control, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), theory of mind, Yogi Berra

Boer, “The Genetic Background to PTSD,” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 31, no. 3 (2007): 348–62. 5. M. J. Meaney and A. C. Ferguson-Smith, “Epigenetic Regulation of the Neural Transcriptome: The Meaning of the Marks,” Nature Neuroscience 13, no. 11 (2010): 1313–18. See also M. J. Meaney, “Epigenetics and the Biological Definition of Gene × Environment Interactions,” Child Development 81, no. 1 (2010): 41–79; and B. M. Lester, et al., “Behavioral Epigenetics,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1226, no. 1 (2011): 14–33. 6. M. Szyf, “The Early Life Social Environment and DNA Methylation: DNA Methylation Mediating the Long-Term Impact of Social Environments Early in Life,” Epigenetics 6, no. 8 (2011): 971–78. 7. Moshe Szyf, Patrick McGowan, and Michael J. Meaney, “The Social Environment and the Epigenome,” Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis 49, no. 1 (2008): 46–60. 8.

We are just beginning to learn that stressful experiences affect gene expression in humans, as well. Children whose pregnant mothers had been trapped in unheated houses in a prolonged ice storm in Quebec had major epigenetic changes compared with the children of mothers whose heat had been restored within a day.6 McGill researcher Moshe Szyf compared the epigenetic profiles of hundreds of children born into the extreme ends of social privilege in the United Kingdom and measured the effects of child abuse on both groups. Differences in social class were associated with distinctly different epigenetic profiles, but abused children in both groups had in common specific modifications in seventy-three genes. In Szyf’s words, “Major changes to our bodies can be made not just by chemicals and toxins, but also in the way the social world talks to the hard-wired world.”7,8 MONKEYS CLARIFY OLD QUESTIONS ABOUT NATURE VERSUS NURTURE One of the clearest ways of understanding how the quality of parenting and environment affects the expression of genes comes from the work of Stephen Suomi, chief of the National Institutes of Health’s Laboratory of Comparative Ethology.9 For more than forty years Suomi has been studying the transmission of personality through generations of rhesus monkeys, which share 95 percent of human genes, a number exceeded only by chimpanzees and bonobos.

There now is voluminous evidence that life experiences of all sorts changes gene expression. Some examples are: D. Mehta et al., “Childhood Maltreatment Is Associated with Distinct Genomic and Epigenetic Profiles in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110, no. 20 (2013): 8302–7; P. O. McGowan, et al., “Epigenetic Regulation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor in Human Brain Associates with Childhood Abuse,” Nature Neuroscience 12, no. 3 (2009): 342–48; M. N. Davies, et al., “Functional Annotation of the Human Brain Methylome Identifies Tissue-Specific Epigenetic Variation Across Brain and Blood,” Genome Biology 13, no. 6 (2012): R43; M. Gunnar and K. Quevedo, “The Neurobiology of Stress and Development,” Annual Review of Psychology 58 (2007): 145–73; A.


pages: 395 words: 116,675

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

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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

‘Darwinian evolution can include Lamarckian processes,’ wrote Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb in 2005, ‘because the heritable variation on which selection acts is not entirely blind to function; some of it is induced or “acquired” in response to the conditions of life.’ But the evidence for these claims remains weak. All the data suggest that the epigenetic state of DNA is reset in each generation, and that even if this fails to happen, the amount of information imparted by epigenetic modifications is a minuscule fraction of the information imparted by genetic information. Besides, ingenious experiments with mice show that all the information required to reset the epigenetic modifications themselves actually lies in the genetic sequence. So the epigenetic mechanisms must themselves have evolved by good old Darwinian random mutation and selection. In effect, there is no escape to intentionality to be found here. Yet the motive behind the longing to believe in epigenetic Lamarckism is clear. As David Haig of Harvard puts it, ‘Jablonka and Lamb’s frustration with neo-Darwinism is with the pre-eminence that is ascribed to undirected, random sources of heritable variation.’

On Harun Yahya, Tremblay, F. in ‘An Invitation to Dogmatism’. At strongatheism.net. On Gould’s swerve, Dennett, Daniel C. 1995. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Simon & Schuster. On Wallace, Wallace, Alfred Russel 1889. Darwinism. Macmillan & Co. On Lamarckism, Weismann, August 1889. Essays Upon Heredity and Kindred Biological Problems. On epigenetics, Jablonka, Eva and Lamb, M. 2005. Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life. MIT Press. And Haig, D. 2007. Weismann Rules! OK? Epigenetics and the Lamarckian temptation. Biology and Philosophy 22:415–428. Chapter 4: The Evolution of Genes On the origin of life, Horgan, J. 2011. Psst! Don’t tell the creationists, but scientists don’t have a clue how life began. Scientific American 28 February 2011; and Lane, N. and Martin, W.F. 2012.

In the 1920s a herpetologist named Paul Kammerer in Vienna claimed to have changed the biology of midwife toads by changing their environment. The evidence was flaky at best, and wishfully interpreted. When accused of fraud, Kammerer killed himself. A posthumous attempt by the writer Arthur Koestler to make Kammerer into a martyr to the truth only reinforced the desperation so many nonscientists felt to rescue a top–down explanation of evolution. It is still going on. Epigenetics is a respectable branch of genetic science that examines how modifications to DNA sequences acquired early in life in response to experience can affect the adult body. There is a much more speculative version of the story, though. Most of these modifications are swept clean when the sperm and egg cells are made, but perhaps a few just might survive the jump into a new generation. Certain genetic disorders, for example, seem to manifest themselves differently according to whether the mutant chromosome was inherited from the mother or the father – implying a sex-specific ‘imprint’ on the gene.


pages: 945 words: 292,893

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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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

It had thus paved the way for the Great Seeding, which was responsible for the trees that Kath Two had been flying over this morning. In subsequent decades, larger and larger animals had been set loose on the surface as part of a planned program to jump-start whole ecosystems. Some of those—the ones Kath Two had been worried about this morning—were canids. When Rhys said that they were “going epi,” he meant that they were passing through some kind of epigenetic shift. If the Agent had blown up the moon a couple of decades earlier, Eve Moira wouldn’t have known about epigenetics. It was still a new science at the time she was sent up to the Cloud Ark. During her first years in space, when she and her equipment had been coddled in the most protected zones of Izzy and Endurance, she’d had plenty of time to bone up on the topic. Like most children of her era, she’d been taught to believe that the genome—the sequence of base pairs expressed in the chromosomes in every nucleus of the body—said everything there was to say about the genetic destiny of an organism.

Had it not been for the sudden intervention of the Agent, the biologists of Old Earth would have devoted at least the remaining decades of the century to cataloging these mechanisms and understanding their effects—a then-new science called epigenetics. Instead of which, on Cleft, in the hands of Eve Moira and the generations of biologists she reared, it became a tool. They had needed all the tools they could get, and they had wielded them pragmatically, bordering on ruthlessly, to ensure the survival of the human races. When creating the children of the other six Eves, Moira had avoided using epigenetic techniques. She had felt at liberty, however, to perform some experiments on her own genome. It had gone poorly at first, and her first eight pregnancies had been failures. But her last, the only daughter of Moira to survive, had flourished.

But her last, the only daughter of Moira to survive, had flourished. Cantabrigia, as Moira had named her after the university of Cambridge, had founded the race of which Kath Two was a member. By the time the Great Seeding was in the works, thousands of years later, epigenetics was sufficiently well understood to be programmed into the DNA of some of the newly created species that would be let loose on the surface of New Earth. And one of the planks in the Get It Done platform was to use epigenetics for all it was worth. So rather than trying to sequence and breed a new subspecies of coyote that was optimized for, and that would breed true in, a particular environment, as the TOT school would have had it, the GID approach was to produce a race of canines that would, over the course of only a few generations, become coyotes or wolves or dogs—or something that didn’t fit into any of those categories—depending on what happened to work best.


pages: 379 words: 109,612

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future by John Brockman

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asperger Syndrome, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, biofilm, Black Swan, British Empire, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Danny Hillis, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of writing, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, lone genius, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, social graph, social software, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telepresence, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

What the Internet cannot accomplish as a tool of learning it might eventually accomplish as a tool of natural selection. Epigenetics (the study of changes in appearance or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in DNA) sculpts human thought within a lifetime and across a few generations. Experience and environment are its guides, and shifts in gene expression triggering shifts in cognition, emotion, and physiology are its relevant effects. Neuroscientist Timothy Oberlander and colleagues found that a mother’s depression can change the expression of the NR3C1 gene in her newborn, leading to the infant’s increased reactivity to stress.* Childhood abuse similarly can lead to persistent feelings of anxiety and acute stress in a child, fundamentally altering its thought life. Is the Internet in the tool kit of epigenetics? Possibly, but no one knows. The field of epigenetics is young, and even the basic mechanisms by which transgenerational epigenetic effects are inherited are not well understood.

The field of epigenetics is young, and even the basic mechanisms by which transgenerational epigenetic effects are inherited are not well understood. But the finding that parental behavior can alter gene expression and thought life in a child certainly leaves open the possibility that other behavioral environments, including the Internet, can do the same. Thus, in sum, the relevance of the Internet to human thought depends on whether one evaluates this relevance phylogenetically, ontogenetically, or epigenetically. Debate on this issue can be clarified by specifying the framework of evaluation. What Kind of a Dumb Question Is That? Andy Clark Philosopher and cognitive scientist, University of Edinburgh; author, Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension How is the Internet changing the way I think?

* Robin Dunbar, How Many Friends Does One Person Need: Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks (London: Faber and Faber, 2010). * T. A. Keller and M. A. Just, “Altering Cortical Connectivity: Remediation-Induced Changes in the White Matter of Poor Readers,” Neuron 64 (2009): 624–31. * T. F. Oberlander et al., “Prenatal Exposure to Maternal Depression, Neonatal Methylation of Human Glucocorticoid Receptor Gene (NR3C1) and Infant Cortisol Stress Responses,” Epigenetics 3, 2 (2008): 97–106. * D. C. Engelbart, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework,” Summary Report AFOSR-3233, Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, Calif., October 1962. * “Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes,” Psychological Review 84, 3 (1977): 231–59.

The Science of Language by Noam Chomsky

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Alfred Russel Wallace, British Empire, Brownian motion, dark matter, Drosophila, epigenetics, finite state, Howard Zinn, phenotype, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Pinker, theory of mind

There is no mention of the fact that many genes are conserved over species and clades. Epigenetic factors are ignored. ‘Happy accidents’ of the sort found in what Lewontin and Gould called “spandrels” are not mentioned. Too often – especially in the cognitive domain – there is only a minimal effort to find evidence for claims: just-so stories are common. Virtually all features within a species and their structures and behaviors are treated as though they were ‘selected’ over a long period, chosen by virtue of adapting to the environment in which a species is found. While there are gestures toward a role for the genome, nothing is said about its precise structure and how it works and one finds no mention of epigenetic factors. The genome's role on this naïve view of evolution – one too often popularized by those who should know better – is just to transmit from generation to generation successful ways for a species and its members to ‘solve problems’ in dealing with an environment.

Page 42, On canalization: likely the third factor Chomsky seems to treat canalization as a third factor matter. It is not entirely clear what exactly Waddington had in mind by way of an explanation of canalization, although one dominant theme is his appeal to “buffering” due to epigenetic ‘networks’ – intuitively, interactions between alleles and the environment. A prominent example is the transformation of stem cells (which can be ‘made into anything,’ as the popular press puts it) into cells of a specific sort: their DNA remains the same, and the environment ‘specializes’ them. Are epigenetic factors “third factor” contributions? Plausibly, yes: they involve more than DNA coding. The phenomena themselves are in general obvious enough. ‘Canalization’ captures the remarkable fact that despite genetic variation and mutation within a genome and considerable environmental variation, plus a lot of variation in specific ‘input,’ the result of development is a stable and clearly distinct phenotype.

For one thing, there is the fact that modification requires mutation, and mutation can only proceed within the constraints set by physics and chemistry, among other sciences: possible structures and modifications of structure are limited by the laws of nature. Various structural features of organisms, for example, cannot be explained by genetic instruction sets alone, nor can the way phenotypical development takes place; ‘epigenetic’ factors play a crucial role in the latter. Scaling of skeletal structure (the genome cannot be thought to provide a complete specification of the sizes of each bone in a specific organism) and symmetry (the fact that each rib on the right has a homologue on the left, each wing of a butterfly the same pattern as the other . . .) are two examples. And there are issues that bear on structure and form that selectional adaptation does not speak to in any significant way: the fact, for example, that what have been called “control” or “master” genes are found in the same form in a large number of different species that cross biological clades.


pages: 61 words: 16,429

Just Keep Calm & Take Some Magnesium - Why a "Boring" Mineral Is Suddenly Hot Property for Soothing Bodies and Calming Minds by James Lee

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Albert Einstein, epigenetics, life extension, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell

However nowadays as science has progressed, the buzz word has become epigenetics, which basically refers to your genes and how they can be turned on or off by your environment. Let me give the example of a smoker. Why is it that some people can smoke a pack a day for life and never get lung cancer while others are struck down in midlife, despite smoking the same amount of cigarettes? This is because a small minority of smokers have a particular genetic makeup that prevents them from developing lung cancer. I should point out an important point however – many smokers point to these rare outliers who don’t get cancer as a reason why it doesn’t matter whether you smoke or not. However this is a complete fallacy. Not only are these people exceedingly rare, this belief doesn’t take epigenetics into account. You should never base your beliefs and decisions on the visible minority (they are the visible minority because most of the other long-term smokers are not particularly visible unless you are a “Long Island medium”) So any scientific research aimed at extending the life span of humans must also look at genetics, not just environmental aging.

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers by David Perlmutter, Kristin Loberg

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epigenetics, Gary Taubes, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mouse model, phenotype, publication bias, Ralph Waldo Emerson, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell

How often do we hear people say things like, “I’ll probably get [insert disease here] because it runs in my family.” No doubt our genetic heritage does play a role in determining our risk for various health conditions. But what leading-edge medical research now understands is that we have the power to change our genetic destiny. One of the hottest areas of research currently gaining momentum is epigenetics, the study of particular sections of your DNA (called “marks”) that essentially tell your genes when and how strongly to express themselves. Like conductors of an orchestra, these epigenetic marks are the remote control not only to your health and longevity but also to how you pass your genes on to future generations. Our day-to-day lifestyle choices have a profound effect on the activity of our genes. And this is empowering. We now know that the food choices we make, the stress we experience or avoid, the exercise we get or avoid, the quality of our sleep, and even the relationships we choose actually choreograph to a significant degree which of our genes are active and which remain suppressed.

If you’re already thinking that this book isn’t for you because (1) you haven’t been diagnosed with any condition or disorder, or (2) you’re not sensitive to gluten as far as you know, I implore you to read on. This is about all of us. Gluten is what I call a “silent germ.” It can inflict lasting damage without your knowing it. Beyond calories, fat, protein, and micronutrients, we now understand that food is a powerful epigenetic modulator—meaning it can change our DNA for better or worse. Indeed, beyond simply serving as a source of calories, protein, and fat, food actually regulates the expression of many of our genes. And we have only just begun to understand the damaging consequences of wheat consumption from this perspective. Most of us believe that we can live our lives however we choose, and then when medical problems arise, we can turn to our doctors for a quick fix in the form of the latest and greatest pill.

A million years ago, we triumphed over long distances because we could outrun and outwalk most other animals. This ultimately helped make us the clever human beings we are today. The more we moved, the fitter our brain became. And even today our brain’s healthy functioning requires regular physical activity despite the passage of time and ills of the aging process. CALORIC RESTRICTION Another epigenetic factor that turns on the gene for BDNF production is calorie restriction. Extensive studies have clearly demonstrated that when animals are on a reduced-calorie diet (typically reduced by around 30 percent), their brain production of BDNF shoots up and they show dramatic improvements in memory and other cognitive functions. But it’s one thing to read experimental research studies involving rats in a controlled environment and quite another to make recommendations to people based upon animal research.


pages: 504 words: 147,660

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction by Gabor Mate, Peter A. Levine

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Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, corporate governance, epigenetics, ghettoisation, impulse control, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, phenotype, placebo effect, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), source of truth, Yogi Berra

“The cell’s operations are primarily moulded by its interaction with the environment, not by its genetic code,” the cell biologist Bruce Lipton has written.14 There is a new and rapidly growing science that focuses on how life experiences influence the function of genes. It’s called epigenetics. As a result of life events, chemicals attach themselves to DNA and direct gene activities. The licking of a rat pup by the mother in the early hours of life turns on a gene in the brain that helps protect the animal from being overwhelmed by stress even as an adult. In rats deprived of such grooming, the same gene remains dormant. Epigenetic effects are most powerful during early development and have now been shown to be transmittable from one generation to the next, without any change in the genes themselves.15 Environmentally induced epigenetic influences powerfully modulate genetic ones. How a gene acts is called gene expression. It is now clear that “the early environment, consisting of both the prenatal and post-natal periods, has a profound effect on gene expression and adult patterns of behavior,” to quote a recent article from The Journal of Neuroscience.16 One example is related to alcohol consumption.

The important point to explore here is how stresses during pregnancy can already begin to “program” a predisposition to addiction in the developing human being. Such information places the whole issue of prenatal care in a new light and helps explain the well-known fact that adopted children are at greater risk for all kinds of problems that pre-dispose to addictions. The biological parents of an adopted child have a major epigenetic effect on the developing fetus. The conclusions of many animal and human studies are best encapsulated by researchers from the Medical School at Hebrew University, Jerusalem: In the past few decades it has become increasingly clear that the development and later behaviour of an immature organism is not only determined by genetic factors and the postnatal environment, but also by the maternal environment during pregnancy.18 Numerous studies in both animals and human beings have found that maternal stress or anxiety during pregnancy can lead to a broad range of problems in the offspring, from infantile colic to later learning difficulties19 and the establishment of behavioural and emotional patterns that increase a person’s predilection for addiction.

It is commonly assumed, with no scientific basis, that if a condition “runs in a family,” appearing in successive generations, it must be genetic. Yet as we have seen, for example with my Downtown Eastside patients, pre-and post-natal environments can be recreated from one generation to the next in a way that would impair a child’s healthy development without any genetic contribution. Parenting styles are often inherited epigenetically—that is, passed on biologically, but not through DNA transmission from parent to child. Why, then, are narrow genetic assumptions so widely accepted and, in particular, so enthusiastically embraced by the media? The neglect of developmental science is one factor. Our preference for a simple and quickly understood explanation is another, as is our tendency to look for one-to-one causations for almost everything.


pages: 433 words: 106,048

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

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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

Nuns who wrote sentences thick with ideas were less likely to develop dementia than those whose autobiographies showed a paucity of themes. The now-famous Nun Study was just the beginning. A handful of studies are finally taking place nationwide today that use donated brains with a rich and detailed clinical history gleaned from years of memory tests and physical exams. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health awarded Rush University about $5.5 million in grants to study how epigenetic changes—chemical modifications to genes that can result from diet, aging, stress, or environmental exposure—contribute to memory formation and cognitive decline. These studies have already unveiled surprising findings, one of which is a concept that neurologist David Bennett, director of Rush University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, calls neural reserve. Almost a third of the participants who died without demonstrating any marked memory loss exhibited hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease when their brains were examined by neuropathologists using high-powered microscopes.

., 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. See physical activity/exercise exercise physiology, 224–29 Fairfield, Kathleen, 181 family health tree, 68, 104 fasting lipid profile, 58 fate, 22 fatigue, 59, 175, 192, 236, 246 feelings gut, 190, 191–93 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 15 See also emotions; specific feeling Feiler, Bruce, 200 fiber, 192 fibromyalgia, 41 fingers, 16 Finland: cancer study in, 167–69 fish, 184–85, 194 fish-oil supplements, 137 See also omega-3 fatty acids fitness movement, 224–25 Flexible Spending Accounts, 75 flu.

See medical information redundancy, 265–66, 268–69 research studies correlation in, 135, 136 demographics and, 50–51 environment and, 86–91, 93–94 genetics and, 51 Lind’s study as one of first clinical, 151 microsystems and, 50 need for funding for cancer, 298 need for repeatable results in, 108, 109 technology and, 3 See also specific researcher or study respiratory disease, 24 restaurant analogy, 99, 100, 104, 105 restless legs syndrome, 72, 80 resveratrol, 159 rheumatoid arthritis, 41, 72, 80 Richtel, Matthew, 256–57 rickets, 133, 158 “right” decisions: concerning treatment for disease, 54–55 right to health, 299–301 Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) study, 76 robotics, 109 robustness, 266 Rosenberg, Barnett, 90 Rush University: epigenetic study at, 205–6 saliva, genetic testing and, 72 Salk, Jonas, 220 salmon, 179, 194 Santa Fe Institute: complex medicine systems research at, 114 sarcoidosis, 72, 80 saw palmetto, 56 schedule, regular, 236–58 and body’s natural rhythm, 238 brain and, 244, 246–47 children and, 252–54, 258 circadian rhythm and, 240–43, 246, 247 and dogs, 257–58 doing nothing and, 293 downtime and, 254–57, 258 eating and, 237, 238–39, 243–45, 246, 249, 258 hormones and, 240–45, 246 importance of, 214 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 15 physical activity/exercise and, 234–35, 237, 244, 249, 258 redefining health and, 11 sleep and, 237–38, 239–49, 258 stress and, 237, 238, 239, 241–42, 244, 247, 254 weight/obesity and, 244–45 schizophrenia, 84 Schrödinger, Erwin, 10 science, in the future, 259–62 Science Translational Medicine journal, 48 Scripps Howard News Service: football player study by, 198n scurvy, 150–53, 158 SeafoodWatch.org, 184, 194 second-born children, 83–84 The Second Brain (Gershon), 191 SELECT study, 172 selenium, 171–72, 179 Selmon, Lee Roy, 200 sensations: Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 15 sensory nerves, 191–92 shades of gray: complexity of body and, 91–94 shingles, 61 shoes, 11, 195, 212 signaling molecules, 146, 147 single nucleotide polymorphismss (SNPs), 70, 71, 72 skin cancer of, 140, 141 color of, 139–41, 142 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 151 tanning of, 140–41, 142 vitamin D and, 139–41, 142 sleep age and, 248, 253 amount of, 247–49, 253 apps for, 65 benefits of, 240 brain and, 244, 253, 254, 256 children and, 252–54 definition of health and, 21 doing nothing and, 293 drugs for, 249–51 eating and, 240, 243–45, 251 environment for, 248–49 gut feelings and, 192 hormones and, 239–45, 254 and keeping a regular schedule, 237–38, 239–45, 246–49, 258 lack of, 244, 245 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 17 principles of health and, 3 side effects of poor, 240 stress and, 240, 241, 248, 254 weight/obesity and, 240, 244–45, 251 sleep apnea, 17, 250–51 Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan (Breus), 248 smallpox, 276 smoking, 21, 23, 168, 201, 205, 230, 233, 280, 296 snoring, 17, 250 Snowden, David, 205 Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), 172 Stanford University complex medicine systems research at, 114 sleep-athletes study at, 248 technology-learning process study at, 256 Stanley, Edward (Earl of Derby), 215–16 Stark-Vance, Virginia, 87–88 statins age and, 61 benefits of, 75 cholesterol and, 26, 45, 46–47, 49, 61, 75 diverse effects of, 85 end of illness and, 296 heart attacks and, 46–47, 210 heart/cardiovascular disease and, 46–47, 48, 296 impact on biological system of, 45–47, 48 inflammation and, 47, 75, 209–10, 212 influenza and, 209 “legacy effects” of, 210 and questions that patients need to ask doctors, 11 source of, 45–46 statistics about deaths and, 26 stroke and, 210 trade-offs concerning, 48 See also Crestor; Lipitor stomach cancer, 72, 80 stress apps for, 65, 66 and body as homeostatic, 269 brain and, 246 chronic inflammation and, 46 definition of health and, 21–22 DNA analysis and, 40–41 downtime and, 255 environment as source of, 79 epigenetic changes and, 206 gut feelings and, 191, 192, 193 inflammation and, 196, 197, 204 and keeping a regular schedule, 237, 238, 239, 241, 244, 248, 254 negative test results and, 60, 76–77 oxidation and, 160, 161, 163, 164, 176, 196, 197 Personal Inventory Questionnaire and, 18 physical activity/exercise and, 213, 215, 227, 234, 237 psychological, 204 sleep and, 240, 241, 248, 254 stroke antioxidants and, 166 aspirin and, 62, 63 CRP and, 61 end of illness and, 296 growth hormone and, 242 inflammation and, 200, 211 oxidants and, 156 physical activity and, 221 statins and, 46–47, 48, 61, 210 statistics about death and, 23, 24, 26 vitamins/supplements and, 134, 167, 168 weight and, 49 “Strunk and White,” 123–24 studies at, 188 study at, 130 sucrose, 154 sugar in food, 180, 181 gut feelings and, 192 hemoglobin A1C test and, 59–60 See also blood sugar Sun Microsystems, 115 sunlight and keeping a regular schedule, 241–42 skin color and, 140–41, 142 vitamin D and, 127, 133, 134, 136, 137, 139–45, 147 supplements.


pages: 574 words: 164,509

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

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agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, epigenetics, fear of failure, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Netflix Prize, new economy, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, prediction markets, price stability, principal–agent problem, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, social graph, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

There is, however, a complementary technology, one which, once it has been developed for use in humans, would greatly potentiate the enhancement power of pre-implantation genetic screening: namely, the derivation of viable sperm and eggs from embryonic stem cells.46 The techniques for this have already been used to produce fertile offspring in mice and gamete-like cells in humans. Substantial scientific challenges remain, however, in translating the animal results to humans and in avoiding epigenetic abnormalities in the derived stem cell lines. According to one expert, these challenges might put human application “10 or even 50 years in the future.”47 With stem cell-derived gametes, the amount of selection power available to a couple could be greatly increased. In current practice, an in vitro fertilization procedure typically involves the creation of fewer than ten embryos. With stem cell-derived gametes, a few donated cells might be turned into a virtually unlimited number of gametes that could be combined to produce embryos, which could then be genotyped or sequenced, and the most promising one chosen for implantation.

However, this procedure would tend to disrupt the normal genetic relationship between parents and child, something that could negatively affect demand in many cultures.51 With further advances in genetic technology, it may become possible to synthesize genomes to specification, obviating the need for large pools of embryos. DNA synthesis is already a routine and largely automated biotechnology, though it is not yet feasible to synthesize an entire human genome that could be used in a reproductive context (not least because of still-unresolved difficulties in getting the epigenetics right).54 But once this technology has matured, an embryo could be designed with the exact preferred combination of genetic inputs from each parent. Genes that are present in neither of the parents could also be spliced in, including alleles that are present with low frequency in the population but which may have significant positive effects on cognition.55 Table 6 Possible impacts from genetic selection in different scenarios52 One intervention that becomes possible when human genomes can be synthesized is genetic “spell-checking” of an embryo.

To stave off the negative effects of inbreeding, iterated embryo selection would require either a large starting supply of donors or the expenditure of substantial selective power to reduce harmful recessive alleles. Either alternative would tend to push toward offspring being less closely genetically related to their parents (and more related to one another). 52. Adapted from Shulman and Bostrom (2014). 53. Bostrom (2008b). 54. Just how difficult an obstacle epigenetics will be is not yet known (Chason et al. 2011; Iliadou et al. 2011). 55. While cognitive ability is a fairly heritable trait, there may be few or no common alleles or polymorphisms that individually have a large positive effect on intelligence (Davis et al. 2010; Davies et al. 2011; Rietveld et al. 2013). As sequencing methods improve, the mapping out of low-frequency alleles and their cognitive and behavioral correlates will become increasingly feasible.


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

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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

Ironically, reductionism has not helped. The complexity of cells, together with the continued subdivision of biology into teaching departments in most universities, has led many down the path of a protein-centric versus a DNA-centric view of biology. In recent years, the DNA-centric view has seen an increasing emphasis on epigenetics, the system of “switches” that turns genes on and off in a cell in response to environmental factors such as stress and nutrition. Many now behave as if the field of epigenetics is truly separate from and independent of DNA-driven biology. When one attributes unmeasurable properties to the cell cytoplasm, one has unwittingly fallen into the trap of vitalism. The same goes for the emphasis of the mysterious emergent properties of the cell over DNA, which is tantamount to a revival of Omnis cellula e cellula, the idea that all living cells arise from pre-existing cells.

., 143 creativity, 111 Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, 43 Crichton, Michael, Timeline, 161 Crick, Francis, 4, 21, 28 on directed panspermia, 130 lab notebook at JCVI, 29 on RNA, 30 and Schrödinger, 5 Crucibles: The Lives and Achievements of the Great Chemists (Jaffe), 14 crystal: aperiodic, 3–5, 7, 26, 40 growth mechanisms, 57 See also X-ray crystallography Cybernetics (Weiner), 22 cystic fibrosis, 42–3 Darwin, Charles, On the Origin of Species, 16, 139 Darwin, Erasmus, Zoonomia; or the Laws of Organic Life, 26 Dawkins, Richard, 5 definitions, 127 See also life, definition of Deinococcus radiodurans R1, 89–91 Delbrück, Max, 2, 69, 173 Descartes, René, Discourse on Method, 10 designer life, 10, 130–1, 139–45 bio-circuits, 147–8 brain simulation, 140 and genes, 145 virtual cells, 140–5 d’Herelle, Félix, 172–3 Diamond, Jared, 79 digestive system, 136 digitized-life-sending-unit, 177 Dirac, Paul, 163 Discourse on Method (Descartes), 10 DNA: and cells, 145 composition of, 28–9 digital, 163–4 digitized-life-sending-unit, 177 double helix structure of, 4, 21, 28–9, 45 electrical charge of, 104 forensic, 111 fragility of, 103 as genetic material, 4, 24, 26–31 half-life of, 182–3 junk, 40 lateral gene transfer, 171 ligase, 64 methylation, 114–5 Neanderthal, 87 polymerase, 64–5, 67 protein structured by, 46 recombinant, 32–3 situation of, 104 as software of life, 6–7, 34, 41, 46–7, 78, 96, 109, 125, 130, 147, 187 and teleportation, 163, 165, 176 DNA fingerprinting, 32 DNA sequencing, 36, 47–53, 67–8 accuracy of, 71–2, 86–8, 94, 119–21, 124 and computers, 50 expressed sequence tags (ESTs), 50–1, 67 of first living organism, 53 interstellar broadcasts, 187 on Mars, 186–7 at speed of light, 163, 187 watermark sequences, 88, 94 See also shotgun sequencing DNA splicing, 31–4 DNA synthesis, 6, 61–2, 84–5, 89, 92, 94, 116–7 difficulty of, 70 error rate, 164–5 and phages, 175 do-it-yourself, 155, 157 Doctor Who, 160 Dolly (cloned sheep), 80, 96–7 doomsday virus, 157 Doyle, Arthur Conan, 161 epigraph, 160 Driesch, Hans, 17 dust, household, 41 The Dynamics of Living Matter (Loeb), 8 Dyson, Freeman, 128, 155 Dyson, George, Turing’s Cathedral, 23 E-Cell Project, 141–2 E. coli, 84, 115, 145 Earth: cellular life on, 130, 132–4, 137 life on, 163 and Mars, 179–80 planetary protection, 184 The Economist, 56 Einstein, Albert, 45, 161 elastin, 35 electrophoresis, 108 electroporation, 74 Eli Lilly and Company, 33 Eliava, George, 173 Embryonic Development and Induction (Spemann & Mangold), 97 Empedocles, 9 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 65 Endy, Drew, 146, 152 Energy Department (DOE), 68, 75, 77, 151–2 entelechy, 17 environment, 78, 80, 157–9 natural, 155 See also climate change; temperature environmentalists, 128 epigenetics, 18 ethics, 151–9 five guiding principles, 156 New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies, 156 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, 156 review board for synthetic life, 79, 151 and science, 80–2 Evans, Martin, 58 evolution, 53–4, 87 and chromosome acquisition, 100 designer life free of, 154 and genome transplantation, 100–1 experimental method, 34 expressed sequence tags (ESTs), 50–1, 67 extraterrestrial life, 56–7, 179–87 extremophiles, 57, 182 Fermi, Enrico, 163 fermions, 163–4 Feynman, Richard, 125, 127 epigraph, 111 Fiers, Walter, 48 Fire, Andrew, 40 Flavell, Richard, 67 Flemming, Alexander, 170 Florey, Howard Walter, 170 The Fly (Langelaan), 161 food, 33–4, 83, 157–9, 165 Fraenkel-Conrat, Heinz, 135 frameshift mutation, 121 Frankenstein (Shelley), 8, 12, 82, 156, 185 Franklin, Rosalind, 21, 29 Friedman, Robert, 151 gene knockouts, 58 Genentech, 33–4 genes: coding for, 40 concept of, 21 and context, 59 and designer life, 145 of influenza virus, 167 lateral gene transfer, 171 and life, 54–61, 80, 85 size of, 2 transplantation of, 99 unknown functions of, 56, 130, 146 genetic code, 36 as binary code, 3 first living organism sequenced, 53 and RNA, 132–4 genetic engineering, 32–4, 83–4, 111 crops, 33, 83 do-it-yourself, 155 first biotech product, 34 first transgenic animal, 32 toolkits for, 150 genetic mutations, 181 genetics: origin of, 26 reverse, 67 genome synthesis, 117 genome transplantation, 96–110 animal cloning, 96–8 and cell growth, 101–2 and evolution, 100–1 vs. gene transplantation, 99 mass spectrometry, 108–9 new methods, 103–5 questions about, 108 species change, 109 yeast trouble, 114–5 genomes: first decoding of, 48 first reading of, 5 metagenomics, 68–9 size of, 90, 92–3, 95, 102 See also comparative genomics; human genome; synthetic genome Gibson assembly, 117, 119 Gibson, Dan, 117–8, 120–2 Gibson, Everett, 56 Gilbert, Walter, 47 Glass, John I., 85, 101 God, 11, 24, 65, 82, 128, 158 Gosling, Raymond, 21, 29 Gould, Steven, Jumper, 161 Gram, Hans Christian, 53 Gram staining, 53 Griffith, Frederick, 27 Gurdon, John, 98 Gutmann, Amy, 156 Haemophilus influenzae, 51–5 Harry Potter (Rowling), 161 Healy, Bernadine, 76 Heatley, Norman, 170 Heliobacter pylori, 57 heredity, 3, 25–6, 28, 40 and nucleic acids, 28 d’Herelle, Félix, 172–3 Hershey, Alfred, 28, 173 Hershko, Avram, 43 history, 174 History of Chemistry (Kopp), 14 Holley, Robert W., 31, 48 Hood, Larry, 50 Hooke, Robert, 15, 130 Micrographia, 34 human genome, 48, 50, 68, 70 vs. microorganism, 90, 92–3, 95 and teleportation, 162–3 See also genomes human shedding, 41 humans, enhancement of, 158 Humulin, 34 Hutchison, Clyde, 49, 53, 59, 69–70, 74, 85, 113 industrial revolution, new, 177 influenza virus, 153 gene sequences of, 167 and vaccines, 166–70 information: and computers, 139 and life, 110, 124, 127, 129 and teleportation, 162 information science, biology as, 5 inheritance See heredity innovation, 111 The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), 50–1, 76 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM), 146–50, 154 internet, quantum, 162 Intralytix, 176 The Irish Times, 2 isomerism, 14 Itakura, Keiichi, 33 J.


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A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr

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Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Copley Medal, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, Deng Xiaoping, Edmond Halley, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, framing effect, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, hindsight bias, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land tenure, law of one price, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, new economy, phenotype, price stability, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, survivorship bias, the market place, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, ultimatum game, World Values Survey, Wunderkammern

., 292, 293, 302-308, 312, 322-324, 325, 328, 330-333, 335 on Chinese science, 325 Elvin, Mark, 136, 287, 289, 317, 332, 336 emergent property, growth of open science as, 183 emulation, 129, 168, 331 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 220 encyclopedias, 79 Chinese, 332 European, 332 Encyclopédie, 96, 121, 332 Engelfriet, Peter, 321, 325 engineers, 204 England, 175, 176, 178, 207 Puritanism in, 237 see also Britain Enlightenment, 94, 114, 154, 159, 171, 178, 198, 216, 231, 247, 266, 268, 297, 298, 339-341 and economic development, 321 and economic growth, 13 and religion, 244 Bacon’s influence on, 96, 97 different versions of, 221 importance of for growth, 315 Newton’s influence on, 101 victory of, 220 view of the Universe, 338 see also Industrial Enlightenment Enlightenment, Agricultural, 268 Enlightenment, Chinese, 321-338 Enlightenment, Commercial, 268 Enlightenment, European, 265 Enlightenment, Medical, 268 Enlightenment religion, 246 entrepreneurs, 63, 66, 67, 159 see also cultural entrepreneurs entrepreneurship, 67 Entsu, Fumon, 149 Epicurean materialism, 115 epigenetic inheritance, 12 epigenetic transmission, 43 epistasis, 29 epistemic base, 27, 83, 316 Epstein, S.R., 82, 183, 192, 273 Erasmus, Desiderius, 175, 176, 187, 197, 213, 214, 247 Estates General, Dutch, 177 Estonia, 126 ethos of science, 201 Euclid, 74, 326 Euler, Johann, 242 Euler, Leonhard, 108, 110, 112, 242, 271, 272, 274 Europe, considered a single entity, 243 European exceptionalism, 227 Evans, R.J.W., 206 Evelyn, John, 80, 154, 155, 196, 243, 249 evidence, admissible, 55 evidence, rules of, 216 evidentiary research school see kaozheng, 322 evolution, cultural, 24-33 evolution, multiple mechanisms, of, 43 evolutionary models, 22, 23 in economics, 22 evolutionary systems, 28-30 unintended consequence in, 245 examination system, in China, 306 examinations, imperial, 300 see also civil service examinations exceptionalism, cultural, 243 experimental data as rhetorical tool, 217 validity of, 190 experimental method, 73, 76, 190, 213 and Isaac Newton, 104 in Bacon’s thought, 76 experimental methodology, 231 experimental philosophy, 228 experimentation, and content bias, 212 expertise, 218 demand for, 109 experts, 217 eyeglasses, introduced into China, 288 fact, concept of, 216 facts, definition of, 55 Fairbank, John King, 304 Fang-Yizhi, 324, 325 Fara, Patricia, 99, 101, 102, 108, 205 Faraday, Michael, 245 Farrington, Benjamin, 70, 77, 97 feedback, 53, 71, 314 dynamic, 48 negative, 315 feedback effects, 29, 65, 66 Feijoo, Benito Jeronimo, 172 Feingold, Mordecai, 106, 109, 113, 114, 130, 131, 199 Feldman, M.W., 24, 41, 60 Ferdinand de Medici, Grand Duke, 204 Ferguson, Adam, 168 Fernández, Raquel, 13, 14 Fernel, Jean, 204 Ferney, 176 Ferrone, Vincenzo, 77, 253 Ficino, Marsilio, 197 Findlay, Moses, 143 Findlen, Paula, 239 five classics, 302, 305 Flamsteed, John, 87, 100, 106 Florence, 205, 206 princes of, 207 Fludd, Robert, 213 Fontenelle, Bernard LeBovier, 103, 243, 262 Foucault, Michel, 60 four books, 302, 305 Four Treasuries, 334 Fowler, James, 24 Fracastoro, Girolamo, 173 fragmentation, political, 145, 166, 167, 169, 170, 175, 177, 290 framing bias, 52 France, 56, 74, 106, 107, 109, 121, 130, 160, 177, 178, 231, 233, 234, 240-243, 250, 261, 264, 269, 317 belief in progress in, 261 “moderns” in, 250 Francke, August Hermann, 245 Frängsmyr, Tore, 279 Frank, Robert G., 251 Frankfurt on the Oder, 110 Franklin, Benjamin, 275, 277, 278 Frederic the Great, King,178, 181, 245, 282 free-riding behavior, 13 freedom of entry, 189 French science, 241 frequency-dependence, 13, 52, 53, 208 Freud, Sigmund, 7, 60 Friedrich Wilhelm I, King, 245 Fumaroli, Marc, 56, 180, 186, 187, 195, 197, 200, 258, 262 Futuyma, Douglas, 33 Galen, 134, 151, 258, 319 Galenian medicine, 134, 162, 251, 252 Galiani, Sebastian, 5 Galilean method, 105 Galilei, Galileo, 68, 72, 78, 81, 93, 100, 101, 111, 112, 130, 131, 152, 156, 157, 158, 160, 162, 164, 171-173, 191, 197, 204, 205, 206, 207, 211-213, 227, 256, 260, 281, 324, 330 Gallup World Poll, 13 Galor, Oded, 22, 36, 121, 124 games against nature, 135 Gans, Joshua, 62 gas lighting, 271 Gascoigne, John, 104, 107, 276 Gassendi, Pierre, 95, 104, 156, 207, 240, 243, 280, 281 Gaukroger, Stephen, 73, 80, 92, 95, 150, 213, 277 Gauss, Christian, 96 Gay, Peter, 68, 114, 177, 193, 242, 243, 262 General Scholium, 103 genetic transmission, 24 Geneva, 171, 174 Geng Dingxian, 323 Genghis Khan, 309, 315 genotype, 28 Genshō, Mukai, 149 Geoffroy, Etienne François, 101, 275 George II, King, 205 German universities, 173 Germany, 12, 110, 127, 176, 195, 244, 281 East, 54 fragmentation of, 176 Industrial Enlightenment in, 244 Gernet, Jacques, 307, 308, 330, 331 Gesner, Conrad, 204 Getaldić, Marin, 188 Geynes, John, 151 Gezhi congshu, 333 Gibbon, Edward, 168, 176, 243 Giddy (Gilbert), Davies, 276 Giglioni, Guido, 73 Gilbert, William, 72, 134, 152, 157, 194, 213 Gillispie, Charles C., 76, 93, 96, 269 Gintis, Herbert, 14, 22, 46 Giuliano, Paola, 7, 10, 13, 32 Glaeser, Edward, 60, 123, Glanvill, Joseph, 146, 255, 262 Glasgow University, 125 Glass, Bentley, 107 Goddard, Jonathan, 229 Goebbels, Joseph, 55 Goldgar, Anne, 196 Goldsmith, Richard, 26 Goldstone, Jack A., 5, 33, 163, 250, 287, 291, 308, 314, 340 Golinsky, Jan, 280 good works, virtuousness of, 230 Goodman, Dana, 96, 181, 223 Goody, Jack, 296, 297, 332 Gorodnichenko, Yuriy, 18 Gough.

. … By ‘motivation’ I mean here incentives broadly defined to include expectations, beliefs, and internalized norms.” 12 Acemoglu and Robinson (2012, pp. 56–63) dismiss the role of culture as an independent factor, and stress the importance of institutions without fully recognizing the possible effect of the dominant beliefs and values on the kind of institutions that emerge. 13 To be sure, even in biology, modern research has blurred some of these sharp distinctions. While the inherited DNA sequence is immutable over a lifetime, cells can acquire and pass on to their progeny information acquired over their lives through epigenetic inheritance using methylated bases in the DNA. These do not alter the proteins but affect the chances of their being transcribed. See Jablonka and Lamb (2005, pp. 113–46). 14 Much of this work is surveyed in Bisin and Verdier (2011) and Alesina and Giuliano (2016). It is striking that there seems to be very little work so far done on the cultural factors behind scientific and technological progress. 15 In Greif’s (1994, p. 915) terms, cultural beliefs are the expectations that individuals have about the actions that others will take.

Chapter 5 Biases in Cultural Evolution The richness of cultural evolution as a tool for understanding historical development is illustrated by the work of two biologists, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb (2005). They discern four dimensions of evolution. In their view, there are biological and nonbiological ways in which cultural traits are passed from generation to generation. The four dimensions really boil down to two: biological transmission (either through genes or through epigenetic transmission) and cultural, through learned cultural elements (either through imitation or through symbolic transmission). The kind of cultural evolution models that affected the early modern intelligentsia I have in mind here are mostly part of Jablonka and Lamb’s “fourth leg,” coded information was exchanged by intellectuals through letters, publications, and meetings that affected the beliefs and information of participants.


pages: 506 words: 152,049

The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene by Richard Dawkins

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Alfred Russel Wallace, assortative mating, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, epigenetics, Gödel, Escher, Bach, impulse control, Menlo Park, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, selection bias, stem cell

In order for it to be inherited, gemmules or RNA viruses, or whatever agent of reverse translation is postulated, would have to scan the macroscopic outline of the hand image and translate it into the molecular structure of DNA necessary to program the development of a similar hand image. It is suggestions of this kind that constitute a violation of the central dogma of embryology. The central dogma of embryology does not follow inevitably from common sense. Rather, it is a logical implication of rejecting the preformationist view of development. I suggest, indeed, that there is a close link between the epigenetic view of development and the Darwinian view of adaptation, and between preformationism and the Lamarckian view of adaptation. You may believe in inheritance of Lamarckian (i.e. ‘instructive’) adaptations, but only if you are prepared to embrace a preformationistic view of embryology. If development were preformationistic, if DNA really were a ‘blueprint for a body’, really were a codified homunculus, reverse development—looking-glass embryology—would be conceivable.

For a man who is artificially stuffed with food to pass on his acquired fatness to his children genetically, some mechanism would have to exist that sensed his fatness, then located a ‘fatness gene’ and caused it to mutate. But how could such a fatness gene be located? There is nothing intrinsic in the nature of the gene that makes it recognizable as a fatness gene. It has its obese effect only as a result of the long and complex unfolding sequence that is epigenetic development. The only way, in principle, to recognize a ‘fatness gene’ for what it is, is to allow it to exert its effects on the normal processes of development, and this means development in the normal, forward direction. This is why bodily adaptations can come about by selection. Genes are allowed to exert their normal effects on development. Their developmental consequences—phenotypic effects—feed back on those genes’ chances of surviving, and as a result gene frequencies change in succeeding generations in adaptive directions.

Selective theories of adaptation, but not instructive theories, can cope with the fact that the relationship between a gene and its phenotypic effect is not an intrinsic property of the gene, but a property of the forward developmental consequences of the gene when interacting with the consequences of many other genes and many external factors. Complex adaptation to an environment may arise in individual organisms through instruction from that environment. In many cases this certainly happens. But, given an assumption of epigenetic, not preformationistic embryology, to expect such complex adaptations to be translated into the medium of the genetic code, by some means other than the selection of undirected variation, is a gross violation of all that I hold rational. There are other examples of what looks like true Lamarckian ‘instruction’ from the environment being inherited. Non-genetic anomalies that appear, or even that are surgically induced, in the cortex of ciliates, may be directly inherited.


pages: 294 words: 86,601

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

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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

Early humans invented them in an attempt to express and control through magic the abundance of the environment, the power of solidarity, and other forces in their lives that mattered most to survival and reproduction. The arts were the means by which these forces could be ritualized and expressed in a new, simulated reality. They drew consistency from their faithfulness to human nature, to the emotion-guided epigenetic rules-the algorithms-of mental development. They achieved that fidelity by selecting the most evocative words, images, and rhythms, conforming to the emotional guides of the epigenetic rules, making the right moves. The arts still perform this primal function, and in much the same ancient way. Their quality is measured by their humanness, by the precision of their adherence to human nature. To an overwhelming degree that is what we mean when we speak of the true and beautiful in the arts.”

Consider what it includes: 1. all the fully formed images to which we do not attend; 2. all the neural patterns that never become images; 3. all the dispositions that were acquired through experience, lie dormant, and may never become an explicit neural pattern; 4. all the quiet remodeling of such dispositions and all their quiet renetworking that may never become explicitly known; and 5. all the hidden wisdom and know-how that nature embodied in innate, homeostatic dispositions.” Damasio, 1998, 228. 129. “With incest”: “The issue can be drawn more sharply by distinguishing the two principal hypotheses that compete for the explanation of human incest avoidance. The first is Westermarck’s, which I will now summarize in updated language: People avoid incest because of a hereditary epigenetic rule of human nature that they have translated into taboos. The opposing hypothesis is that of Sigmund Freud. There is no Westermarck effect, the great theoretician insisted when he learned of it. Just the opposite: Heterosexual lust among members of the same family is primal and compelling, and not forestalled by any instinctive inhibition. In order to prevent such incest, and the consequent disastrous ripping apart of family bonds, societies invent taboos.”


pages: 432 words: 85,707

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

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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

Water fleas have a huge genome because they can multiply and copy their genes much faster than other species, often in response to stress. The threat of a predator can lead them to rapidly develop spines, helmets or even teeth on their necks. This ability for genes to respond to the environment is at the centre of a new field of study called epigenetics. This argues that our genetic code is less like a computer program and more like a musical score. Different organisms in different environments have different ways of expressing the information locked in their DNA. Given its extraordinary genome, the water flea is one of the star organisms of epigenetics. But it’s of more than just academic interest. By studying how water fleas change on a genetic level, we are learning more about how the environment can affect our own genome, giving us vital knowledge in the fight against hereditary diseases such as cancer.

K. 1 chickens 1, 2 childbirth 1 Chile 1, 2 chimpanzees 1 China, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 Chinchorro 1 chlorine 1 chlorofluorocarbons 1 chocolate 1 Cholula pyramid 1 Chopin, Frédéric 1 chopines 1 chromosomes 1 Christianity 1, 2, 3, 4 Christmas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Churchill, Winston S. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ciabatta 1 Cielo, César 1 cinnamon 1, 2 Cistercians 1 citrus fruit 1, 2 clams 1 Clare of Assisi, St 1 Clarke, Jeremiah 1 CLARKSON, JEREMY 1, 2, 3 claws 1 Clement X, Pope 1 Cleopatra 1 Clinton, Bill 1 cloacal kiss 1 cloning 1 Club 1 2 coal-fired power stations 1 cobras 1 coca leaves 1 cocaine 1 Cochabamba 1 Cochran, Josephine Garis 1 Cockerell, Christopher 1 cockroaches 1 coffee, 1 cognitive dissonance 1 Cold War 1 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor 1 COLES, RICHARD 1 Colosseum 1 colour 1, 2, 3 Columbus, Christopher 1, 2 comb jellies 1 Commonwealth 1 compost 1 Conan Doyle, Arthur 1, 2, 3 conception 1 conditioned response 1 conscription 1 conservation 1 Conservatives 1 contract law 1 Cook, Thomas 1 Cool Running (film) 1 COREN-MITCHELL, VICTORIA 1 Cornelius, Robert 1 Cornwall 1, 2, 3 corrugated iron 1 corsets 1 Corvan, Ned 1 Coryat, Thomas 1 Coutts, Thomas 1 Coventry 1 cowbirds 1 cowboys 1, 2 cows 1, 2 crabs 1, 2, 3, 4 Creighton, James George Aylwin 1 Crick, Francis 1 cricket 1, 2 crickets 1 crime rates 1 Croatia 1 crocodiles 1 Croton 1 Crown Court 1 crows 1, 2 crude oil 1 Cruikshank, John 1 Cruise, Tom 1 crusades 1 crushing 1 cryogenics 1 cryonics 1 Cuba 1, 2 cuckoos 1 Cup-a-Soup 1 Currey, Donald 1 Cyprus 1 Dakar Rally 1 damnatio ad bestias 1 dams 1 dangerous sports 1 Darius the Great 1 Darwin, Charles 1, 2, 3, 4 Darwin, Emma 1 Darwin, George 1 Darwin, William Erasmus 1 dating 1 dating systems 1 Dauger, Eustache 1 David, Jacques-Louis 1 DAVIES, ALAN 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 Dead Sea 1 deductive reasoning 1 DEE, JACK 1 Denmark 1, 2, 3, 4 Dennis the Small 1 deserts 1 diabetes 1, 2 diamonds 1 diarrhoea 1, 2 DiCaprio, Leonardo 1 dictionaries 1 Dienekes 1 Dietrich, Marlene 1 Digby, Everard 1 dinosaurs 1, 2, 3 Dionysus Exiguus 1 dishwashers 1 Disney, Walt 1 DNA 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Doctor Who 1 Dodge City 1 dogs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Dolbear, Amos 1 dolphins 1, 2 Don, Monty 1 Don Juan Pond 1 doves 1 dragonflies 1 Drake, Sir Francis 1, 2 drawings 1 driving tests 1 drowning 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 drunkenness 1 dugongs 1 Dumas, Alexandre 1 dumb laws 1 Duncan, King of Scotland 1 dunce 1 Dunlop, John Boyd 1 Duns Scotus 1 Dürer, Albrecht 1 Dutch language 1 dyeing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 E. coli 1 Ea 1 Earth 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 atmosphere 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 magnetic field 1, 2, 3 orbit 1, 2, 3 population 1, 2 earthquakes 1 earthshine 1 earthworms 1, 2, 3 Easter 1, 2 eating for two 1 Eaton, Cyrus 1 Ebola 1 echolocation 1 Edinburgh 1 Edward VII, King 1 Edward VIII, King 1 Edward the Confessor 1 eggs 1, 2 Egypt 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Einstein, Albert 1, 2 Eisenhower, Dwight D. 1 elasticity 1 Eleanor of Aquitaine 1 elections 1 electricity 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 electrolytes 1 elephants 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Elizabeth I, Queen 1, 2 Elizabeth II, Queen 1, 2, 3, 4 Ellis, Eric 1 emissions standards 1 Empire State Building 1, 2 energy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 energy drinks 1 England 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, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 England, Bank of 1 English Civil War 1 English language 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 eons 1 Ephialtes 1 epigenetics 1 epochs 1 eras 1 ergs 1 Eriksson, Leif 1 Escoffier, Auguste 1 Ethiopia 1, 2 ethylene 1 EU 1 eucalyptus trees 1 Eugenie, Princess 1 euphemisms 1 Europe 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 European Convention on Human Rights 1 Eurytus 1 Evening Birds 1 Everest (Churchill’s nanny) 1 Everest (mountain) 1 Eves, Stuart 1 exosphere 1 extracellular matrix 1 eyelids 1 Fair Isle 1 Famous Five 1 Farrow, Mia 1 fascism 1 fashion 1 Faunce, Thomas 1 feathers 1 Federal Reserve 1 feeding of the 5,000 1 female franchise 1 Ferrero Rocher 1 Ferris, George Washington Gale 1 ferris wheels 1, 2 FIELDING, NOEL 1 Fiennes, Sir Ranulph 1 film-making 1 finches 1, 2 fingers 1 Finkelstein, Nat 1 Finland 1 Fiorelli, Giuseppe 1 fire extinguishers 1 First World War 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Fisher, John Arbuthnot 1 Fitzgerald, F.


pages: 346 words: 92,984

The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health by David B. Agus

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3D printing, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clean water, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Kickstarter, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, microcredit, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, publish or perish, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, wikimedia commons

In other words, you get to choose—to some degree—how your DNA is manifested. Genetics account for about a quarter of aging—how fast or slow you age and whether or not you’re still getting carded at age forty. Habits can sometimes trump genes when it comes to the pace of your aging and how long you live. The nature vs. nurture debate has been clarified by the science of epigenetics—the science of controlling genes through environmental forces, such as diet and exercise. But my thoughts on epigenetics aren’t totally aligned with those of other doctors. I don’t, for example, subscribe to the theory that doing X, Y, and Z can change gene A, B, and C to effect outcome D, E, F. This is a complicated area of medicine where the data is still elusive. That said, I do believe that none of us is necessarily a victim of our DNA. And a lot of the advice doled out amid the hand waving is often good general advice, such as “eat real food” and “move more throughout the day.”

., 25 dreaming, 203 drug abuse, 22 drugs, see medications Duke Cancer Institute (DCI), 191 Duke University, 30 Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at, 45 Dulken, Ben, 63 Dunedin Study, 45–47, 46 Dyerberg, Jorn, 182–83 Dyson, Esther, 173 Earls, Felton, 213 East Africa, 44, 107 Eat, Sleep, Poop (Cohen), 137 eating patterns, heart disease and, 138–40 Ebola, 18, 221–22 E. coli, 123 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 182 Einstein, Albert, 2, 223 Elder, William, Jr., 115–16 electrodermal response, 230–31 Elledge, Stephen J., 84 emotions, touch and, 214 emulsifiers, microbiome and, 121–22 “end of history illusion,” 38–40, 39 End of Illness, The (Agus), 18 endoplasmic reticulum, 40 endorphins, 211 energy levels, 149 England, see Great Britain environment, see context epidemics: global spread of, 103 prediction of, 103–4 epigenetics, 20–21 esomeprazole (Nexium), 86 esophageal cancer, 217 estrogen, 64 ethics: genome editing and, 24–25 medical advances and, 10, 24 technology and, 25–26 Europe, 77 European Journal of Immunology, 34 exercise, 21, 114, 140, 185–201 chemotherapy and, 191, 192 honesty about, 133–34 ideal amount of, 196–200 intensity of, 197–98 life expectancy and, 189–90 mortality rates and, 148 Exeter, University of, 157 “Experimental Prolongation of the Life Span” (McCay, Lunsford, and Pope), 2 experimental treatments, quicker access to, 56 Facebook, 27 fasting lipid profile, 150 feebleness, aging and, 43 fertility, aging and, 43 Field, Tiffany, 214 financial industry, information technology and, 89 Finland, 220 fish oil, 182–83 Florida, 103 flu vaccine: misinformation about, 157–58 public distrust of, 160 FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols), 164 Fodor, George, 183 food, safety of, 11 Food and Drug Administration, US (FDA), 2, 18, 51, 55, 56, 86, 111, 112, 127–28, 146, 182, 201 Accelerated Approval provisions of, 128 Foundation Medicine, 50 Framingham Heart Study, 47, 118 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 169 free radicals, 208 fruit flies, eating pattern studies with, 138–40 fungi, 119 gait, 45 galvanic skin response (GSR), 230–31 gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), 86 Gates, Bill, 2 Genentech, 56 genes, genome, 45, 83–84 aging and, 20, 41 bacterial, 107, 119 context and, 14, 20–21, 118 DNA mismatch repair and, 32 expression of, 20–21, 125, 139 mitochondrial, see mitochondrial DNA sequencing of, 20, 23, 49–52, 112 SNPs in, 113–14 as switches, 41 viruses and, 119–20 genes, genome, editing of, 24–25, 45 ethics of, 102–5 genetically modified foods (GMOs), 18 genetic markers, 22, 113–14, 127 genetic mutations: aging and, 41 cancer and, 14, 21–22, 50 disease risk and, 9, 12 genetic screening, 103, 117, 137 flawed results in, 8–10 of newborns, 11–12 Georgia State University, 121 Gewirtz, Andrew, 121 Gibson, Peter, 164 Gilbert, Daniel, 38, 39, 40 Gillray, James, 161 Gladwell, Malcolm, 225, 227, 228 Gleevec (imatinib), 55 glial cells, 209 glioblastoma, 30 “Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health” (WHO), 187 gluten, debate over, 163–65 Goldstein, Irwin, 211 Google, 87, 88, 101 Google Flu Trends, 101 Grameen Bank, 232, 233–34, 235 Grameen Danone, 235 Graunt, John, 100 Great Britain, 96, 97, 100, 110, 155 Black Death in, 95–101, 98, 99, 100 Greatist.com, 200 Greenland, 182 Grove, Andy, 7, 7 growth factors, 59 gun violence, 91 gut: inflammation of, 120, 122 microbiome of, see microbiome H2 blockers, 86 habits and routines, 136, 137–41, 228, 237–38 see also diet; lifestyle choices Harlow, Harry, 213 Harvard Medical School, 84 Harvard School of Public Health, 142–43 Harvard University, 3, 23, 24, 37, 178, 186, 196, 212, 213, 216 hash tables, health care and, 87–88 Hawaii, 47 HDL cholesterol, 150 health: biological age and, 47 context and, 48, 76–78, 84, 89–90, 91–94, 101, 113, 114–15, 117, 124–25 family history of, 136–37 honesty about, 131–34 inflection point in, 8 lifestyle and, see lifestyle choices optimism and, 65–69 personal baselines for, 150 retirement and, 91–92 technology and, 37–70 health and fitness apps, 200 Health and Human Services Department, US, 103 health care: Affordable Care Act and, 69–70 hash tables and, 87–88 individual’s responsibility in, 12–13, 26, 70, 75, 78, 131–32 misinformation about, 14–15, 18, 19, 154, 157–58 politics and, 11–12 portable electronic devices and, 79, 90–91 Health Professionals Follow-up Study, 142–43, 217 health threats, prediction of, 103–4 heart: biological age of, 47–48 health of, 48 heart attacks, 76, 86, 182, 217, 218 heart disease, 59, 128, 150, 166, 175, 183, 186, 187, 215, 217, 221 context and, 22 diet and, 163 eating patterns and, 138–40 lifestyle choices and, 22 muscle mass and, 195 heart rates, 231 heart rate variability (HRV), 230 Heathrow Airport, 92 “hedonic reactions,” 38–40 heel sticks, 11–12 hemoglobin A1C test, 151 hepatitis B, 175 hepatitis C, 175 Herceptin (trastuzumab), 55 high blood pressure, 22, 188, 195 high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) test, 151 hippocampus, 214 Hippocrates, 71, 113, 122, 216 HIV/AIDS, 18, 24, 25, 59, 84, 127–28, 131, 159 Hoffmann, Felix, 215, 216 Holland, 41 Homeland Security Department, US, 103 homeostasis, 137–38, 140 Homo sapiens, evolution of, 107 honesty: about health, 131–34 nutritional studies and, 162 hormones, 219 hormone therapy, 201 Horton, Richard, 178 Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled (Hospital for Special Surgery), 28 house calls, 80 Houston Methodist, 86 “how do you feel” question, 231 hugs, 214 Human Genome Project, 113, 120 human growth hormone, 200 Human Molecular Genetics, 65 human papilloma virus (HPV), 161, 175 Hurricane Sandy, 84 Huxley, Aldous, viii, 6, 159, 238 Hydra magnipapillata, 42, 42 hyperglycemia, 122 hypertension, 125, 195, 203 IBM, 88–89 imatinib (Gleevec), 55 immune reactions, 5 immune system, 175, 190, 209, 211 aging and, 44 impact of hugs on, 214 immunotherapy, 28–33 polio virus and, 30, 31 incentives, 235–36 Indiana University Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, 94–95 infant mortality, 87, 97 infants: genetic screening of, 11–12 premature, 87 infections, 175–76 infectious diseases, 129 antibiotic-resistant, 67–69, 68 data mining and, 100–101 inflammation, 34, 151, 174–77, 181, 187, 190, 195, 215–22 inflammatory bowel disease, 121 inflection points, 7–8, 7 influenza, 161 risks from, 157 vaccine for, see flu vaccine information, sorting good from bad, 19–20 information technology, financial industry and, 89 inherited disorders, newborn genetic screening and, 12 insomnia, 122 Institute for Sexual Medicine, 211 insulin, 56, 190 insulin sensitivity, 5, 87, 120, 122, 151, 195 insurance companies, off-label drugs and, 55 Intel, 7 International Agency for Research on Cancer, 170 International Prevention Research Institute, 180 intuition, 224–29 Inuits, 182–83 in vitro fertilization (IVF), three-person, 109–12, 110 Ioannidis, John, 178 IRBs (institutional review boards), 52 iron deficiency, 231 irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), 164 Islam, 234 Italy, 183 ivacaftor (Kalydeco), 115–16 JAMA Internal Medicine, 142, 143, 192, 196 Jenner, Edward, 160, 161 Jobs, Steve, 2, 23–24, 26, 49 Johns Hopkins Hospital, 71, 72, 128 Hurd Hall at, 74 Osler Medical Housestaff Training Program at, 73–75, 74 Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, 32 Johns Hopkins University, 23, 169, 170, 171, 173, 174, 175, 176, 215 Jolie, Angelina, 21 Jones, Owen, 43 Journal of Sexual Medicine, 211 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 72, 114–15, 173, 201, 220, 221 Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 154 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 169 Journal of Urology, 168 journals, medical, misinformation in, 154, 179 J.

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood

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carbon footprint, delayed gratification, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, financial independence, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, Plutocrats, plutocrats, trickle-down economics, wage slave

In fact, he behaves like Scrooge, after Scrooge has been redeemed — the Scrooge who buys huge turkeys, giggles a lot, plays practical jokes on his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit, goes to his nephew’s Christmas party and joins in the parlour games, and saves Bob’s crippled offspring, Tiny Tim, leading us to wonder if Scrooge didn’t inherit a latent gene for bonvivantery from his distant ancestor Doctor Faustus — a gene that was just waiting to be epigenetically switched on. (Scrooge doesn’t get sex with a pretend Helen of Troy, however. He’s too wrinkly for that. Having thrown over his fiancée because she didn’t have enough money and then having devoted himself to no sins but those of the counting house, he’s left that part of life too long. All he gets is a moment of ogling the cute young maid at his nephew’s house —“Nice girl! Very!” says he, Hugh Hefnerishly — but even this ogling is done in an avuncular and benevolent manner: no bottom-pinching or even cheek-pinching for Scrooge.)

The United Church is the United Church of Canada, formed by a union between the Methodists and some of the Presbyterians. I came across Frans de Waal’s comment on the nature of culture in Harper’s magazine, June 2008, in an article by Frank Bures called “A Mind Dismembered: In Search of the Magical Penis Thieves.” I thank my brother, neurophysiologist Dr. Harold L. Atwood, for sending me various articles on epigenetics. There are many variants to the “Punch-buggy, no punch-backs” game. In one, the colour of the Beetle must be specified. I leave it to the experts to dispute the many rules. For primate trading, see De Waal, Frans, and S. F. Brosnan. “Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay.” Nature (2003): 425. Fisher, Daniel. “Selling the Blue Sky.” Forbes.com. 2008. Forbes. 20 February 2008. <http://www.forbes.com/business/global/2008/0310/070.html>. ————.

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

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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, c2.com, 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, en.wikipedia.org, 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

The entire genome consists of eight hundred million bytes, but most of it is redundant, leaving only about thirty to one hundred million bytes (less than 109 bits) of unique information (after compression), which is smaller than the program for Microsoft Word.8 To be fair, we should also take into account "epigenetic" data, which is information stored in proteins that control gene expression (that is, that determine which genes are allowed to create proteins in each cell), as well as the entire protein-replication machinery, such as the ribosomes and a host of enzymes. However, such additional information does not significantly change the order of magnitude of this calculation.9 Slightly more than half of the genetic and epigenetic information characterizes the initial state of the human brain. Of course, the complexity of our brains greatly increases as we interact with the world (by a factor of about one billion over the genome).10 But highly repetitive patterns are found in each specific brain region, so it is not necessary to capture each particular detail to successfully reverse engineer the relevant algorithms, which combine digital and analog methods (for example, the firing of a neuron can be considered a digital event whereas neurotransmitter levels in the synapse can be considered analog values).

Each epoch continues the evolution of information through a paradigm shift to a further level of "indirection." (That is, evolution uses the results of one epoch to create the next.) For example, in the third epoch, DNA-guided evolution produced organisms that could detect information with their own sensory organs and process and store that information in their own brains and nervous systems. These were made possible by second-epoch mechanisms (DNA and epigenetic information of proteins and RNA fragments that control gene expression), which (indirectly) enabled and defined third-epoch information-processing mechanisms (the brains and nervous systems of organisms). The third epoch started with the ability of early animals to recognize patterns, which still accounts for the vast majority of the activity in our brains.10 Ultimately, our own species evolved the ability to create abstract mental models of the world we experience and to contemplate the rational implications of these models.

Patent and Trademark Office, April 15, 2004, "Dynamical Brain Model for Use in Data Processing Applications." 8. I estimate the compressed genome at about thirty to one hundred million bytes (see note 57 for chapter 2); this is smaller than the object code for Microsoft Word and much smaller than the source code. See Word 2003 system requirements, October 20, 2003, http://www.microsoft.com/office/word/prodinfo/sysreq.mspx. 9. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics. 10. See note 57 in chapter 2 for an analysis of the information content in the genome, which I estimate to be 30 to 100 million bytes, therefore less than 109 bits. See the section "Human Memory Capacity" in chapter 3 (p. 126) for my analysis of the information in a human brain, estimated at 1018 bits. 11. Marie Gustafsson and Christian Balkenius, "Using Semantic Web Techniques for Validation of Cognitive Models against Neuroscientific Data," AILS04 Workshop, SAIS/SSLS Workshop (Swedish Artificial Intelligence Society; Swedish Society for Learning Systems), April 15–16, 2004, Lund, Sweden, www.lucs.lu.se/People/Christian.Balkenius/PDF/Gustafsson.Balkenius.2004.pdf. 12.


pages: 291 words: 81,703

Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

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Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, brain emulation, Brownian motion, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, cosmological constant, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deliberate practice, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Flynn Effect, Freestyle chess, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Khan Academy, labor-force participation, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Myron Scholes, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, reshoring, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra

The candidate approaches here are hardly simple or intuitive, and it’s far from obvious that they will converge to general intelligibility over time. We simply may have reached the point in some key scientific areas where we are working with levels of explanation that our human brains—even those of Nobel laureates—cannot handle. The top scientists might end up being people not who “know,” but rather who hold shadowy outlines of the truth in their heads. Today’s frontier questions about cosmology, epigenetics, or macroeconomics are all more complicated and more advanced than the questions being asked forty or even twenty years ago. There is no guarantee that future advances will move us back to simpler conceptual worlds, and if anything the likelihood seems to point in the opposite direction. If we increasingly rely on the genius of machines to crunch a lot of data, in lieu of a simple and easily intelligible overarching framework, will that really be so bad?

See healthcare domestic oil production, 177 domestic productivity, 169 Dorn, David, 164 Dreber, Anna, 106 driverless automobiles, 8 drone aircraft, 20–21 Duflo, Esther, 222 Dumaine, Erika, 62 Duncan, Arne, 57 dystopian visions, 135 “Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence” (Hanson), 135–36 economics behavioral economics, 75–76, 99, 105, 110, 149, 227 and “Big Data,” 221–22 changing emphasis in research, 221–28 computational economics, 222 development economics, 226 economic crises, 50–51, 53, 55, 232 and incentive for innovation, 138 Keynesian, 53–54, 56, 226 macroeconomics, 9, 166, 211–12, 226 microeconomics, 212, 225 and online education, 180 economies of scale, 184 Economou, Rona, 61 education and the changing labor market, 37, 168–69 chess as model for, 185–88, 191–92, 202–3 educational standards, 90 in El Paso, 246 Emporium model, 183–84 and face-to-face instruction, 194–202 and foreign competition, 176 and gaming, 185–88 and geographic trends, 171–72 and income polarization, 4 new higher education models, 188–94 online education, 179–85 and the social contract, 231 and “tutor kings,” 200–201 and wage trends, 40–41 egalitarianism, 189–90 eHarmony, 95 Einstein, Albert, 126, 211, 213, 215 El Paso, Texas, 245–46 elderly population, 51–52, 236–37, 258 elections, 10–11, 234–35 electronic shopping, 27 The Elegant Universe (Greene), 212–13 empiricism, 225–26 employer-provided healthcare, 237–38 Emporium education model, 183–84 endowment effect, 99–100 energy costs, 177 Eng, Richard, 200 engineering, 26 English boarding schools, 199 entertainment industry, 22 epigenetics, 212 Equifax, 125 Euclid, 216–17 Europe, 173–75 evolution of machines, 150–51 exclusivity, 36, 95–96, 192–94 expert testimony, 129 “Face time,” 146 Facebook, 26, 209–10, 221, 257 face-to-face education, 194–202 factor price equalization, 163 factories, 92 Fair Isaac Corporation, 124 Felin, Teppo, 139 Feller, Sébastien, 147 FICO scores, 124 financial crisis, 50–51, 53, 55 financial sector, 25, 41, 128–29, 129–30 fiscal crunch, 231–51 Fischer, Bobby, 101, 108, 188 fixed employment costs, 113 Florida, 8, 237, 241, 251–52 Florida, Richard, 256 “Flynn Effect,” 107–8 Foer, Joshua, 152 food prices, 246, 248 Ford, Martin, 6 foreign competition, 161–63, 163–71, 175–77 Foxconn, 7–8 “fracking,” 177 France, 39 Franchise (Asimov), 10–11 Franklin, Benjamin, 148 free trade, 166, 176 freelancing, 59–63 Freestyle chess compared to traditional chess, 77–83 and computer simulations, 227–28 and decision-making models, 129 described, 77–83 impact on human play, 83–86 masters of, 86–87 origin of, 46–47 and other man-machine collaborations, 86–89, 89–93 and risk-taking behavior, 75–76 and self-education, 202–3 spectator interest in, 156–57 Friendster, 209 Fritz (chess program), 68, 78, 109, 114 futurism, 6, 134 “g factor” (general intelligence), 42–44 game theory, 222 Gates, Bill, 25 Gattaca (1997), 13 Gelfand, Boris, 156 gender issues and changing worker profiles, 30–31 and chess, 106, 108 and labor force trends, 51 and wage trends, 52–53 and wealth inequality, 249 General Electric, 38, 87 general relativity theory, 211 “Generation Limbo,” 62 genetics, 17, 211–12 geographic trends, 171–75 Gerdes, Christer, 106 Germany, 39, 173–74 Global Hawk surveillance drones, 20–21 globalization, 10 Go (game), 135 Gobet, Fernand, 76 Google and availability of knowledge, 7 and “Big Data,” 221 and driverless cars, 8 and the labor market, 26, 27, 34–36 and medical diagnosis, 89 and memory, 151–52, 154 and online marketing, 22 and public trust, 217 and regulatory issues, 17 government budgets and spending, 175, 176, 198, 231–51 GPS technology, 7, 14–15, 113–15, 116–17 “Grand Unified Theories,” 212 Gränsmark, Patrik, 106 Great Recession (2008–2009), 54–59 “great stagnation,” 5 Greek symposia, 197 Greene, Brian, 212–13 Grischuk, Alexander, 109 Hanson, Gordon H., 164 Hanson, Robin, 135–36 Harvard University, 192–94, 201 Hauchard, Arnaud, 147 Hayek, Friedrich, 215 healthcare costs of, 59, 60, 113 employer-provided, 59, 113, 237–38 and the fiscal crunch, 232, 234–39, 242, 249–50 and the labor market, 31, 238 and mandates, 237–38 and physician rating systems, 124–25 and protectionism, 176 and rationing, 249–50 and regulatory issues, 16–17 and wealth inequality, 243–44 hermeticism, 153 Hernandez, Nelson, 78–79, 86, 157, 203 Higgs boson, 212 higher education, 168, 188–94, 194–202 hiring costs, 36, 59, 60 Hirschberg, Julia, 12–13 Hitt, Lorin M., 33 Hlatshwayo, Sandile, 176 Hong Kong, 200–201 Houdini (chess program), 68 household incomes, 38 housing costs, 53, 55, 63, 239–40, 244–45 human judgment and error, 102–3, 104, 131 human-machine interface, 91–92 Hydra (chess program), 69 IBM, 7, 47 imitation, 141, 144.


pages: 294 words: 80,084

Tomorrowland: Our Journey From Science Fiction to Science Fact by Steven Kotler

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Albert Einstein, Alexander Shulgin, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Burning Man, carbon footprint, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, epigenetics, gravity well, haute couture, interchangeable parts, Kevin Kelly, life extension, Louis Pasteur, North Sea oil, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, theory of mind, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

What had not been properly explained was mechanism, or how this process worked. The idea that humans can take control of evolution’s trajectory has been around since the 1970s, when polio vaccine discoverer Jonas Salk argued that humanity had entered a new era, which he dubbed “meta-biological evolution,” where we have the potential to control and direct evolution (our own and that of other species). Moreover, the now well-established field of epigenetics has shown us that a myriad of factors beyond alterations in DNA can produce heritable change in an organism. Fogel, though, goes farther by going faster. “It’s a ‘whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts’ argument,” he explains. “We’re talking about an incredible synergy between technology and biology, about very simple improvements — pasteurization, a general reduction of pollutants, cleaning up our water supply — producing heritable effects across populations faster than ever before.

See MDMA Ehrlich, Paul, 204 Einstein, Albert, 109 Eisenhower, Dwight, 109 Eldredge, Niles, 54 Eleusinian Mysteries, 167 empathodelics, 160 end-of-life care, 157–67, 170–71, 174–76, 178–82 LSD in, 178–79, 181–82 MDMA in, 170–71, 174–76, 178–79, 180–82 psilocybin in, 160 research on, 161–62 endorphins, 42 Energy from Thorium Foundation, 120 Engerman, Stanley, 51–52 Enríquez, Juan, 58 epigenetics, 55 epilepsy, 43–44 ethics distributed justice in, 211 genetic engineering and, 232–33 of space exploration, 143–45 of sperm banking, 251 stem cells and, 206–18 Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 260 “The Ethics of Exploration” (Consolmagno), 144 eugenics, 58–59 Evans, Nick, 189–90 Everglades, 81–95 alligators in, 91–92 Army Corps of Engineers taming of, 85–86 cattails and blue-green algae in, 90–91 cost of restoring, 85 drought and, 83–84, 89–90 Floridan aquifer and, 88 Kissimmee River in, 85–87 lack of knowledge about, 87–90 Lake Okeechobee in, 88–90 loss of species in, 84, 87 pollution in, 84, 89 sugarcane farming in, 90–92 water impoundments in, 88–90 evolution acceleration of, 49–59 economic development and, 51–53 gene-culture dynamics and, 55–57 geological shifts and, 53–54 inefficiency of, 53–54 metabiological, 55 of mosquito drug resistance, 134 of mosquitos and malaria, 134–35 of new species, 59 punctuated equilibrium in, 49, 54, 56 techno-physio, 54–57 existential anxiety, 175 exoskeletons, bionic, 20 extinction, 83 extreme states, xiv–xv, 33–48 after-effects of, 42–43 biological basis of, 40–43, 45–48 brain changes after, 43–45 brain changes during, 45–48 concentration in, 46–47 euphoria in, 41–42 in fighter pilots, 40–42 near-death experiences, 37–45 psychedelic drugs and, 155–82 REM sleep and, 44–45 reproducibility of, 47–48 in skydiving, 35–36 transformative nature of, 42–48 triggered by drugs, 38–39 triggered by fear, 39 Facebook, 3 Fairfax Cryobank, 246–47 Faisal, Turki bin, 255 Farmer in the Sky (Heinlein), 87 fascinomas, 38 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 236–37, 244 Fermi, Enrico, 109 fertility clinics, 247–63 Catholic Church on, 259–60 economics of, 250–51 stem cells and, 208–10, 211 Feynman, Richard, 30 Fisher, Lucy, 213–14 Floridan aquifer, 88 Floud, Roderick, 54 Flow Genome Project, 145 flying cars, xii, 97–105 Fogel, Robert, 51–52, 54–59 Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 67 on psychedelic research, 174 on sperm banking, 251, 261–62 on steroids, 195 Foundation Fighting Blindness, 74 Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, 232 Fraser, Claire, 245 Frazer, James, 258 free radicals, 191 Freud, Sigmund, 175 Fuentes, Carlos, 23 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 122–23 Gates, Bill, 121 gene-culture dynamics, 55–57 GeneGenie, 27, 222 General Electric, 113, 221 genetic code, xv.


pages: 280 words: 75,820

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher

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Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Build a better mousetrap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, fundamental attribution error, Isaac Newton, knowledge worker, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, music of the spheres, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

The discovery that a focusing regimen can have profound impacts not only on a person’s ability to concentrate but also on his or her basic emotional disposition is particularly significant, because temperament has traditionally been regarded as highly stable and resistant to change. In Davidson’s view, however, the genes you inherit “set very coarse boundaries” for your identity and behavior, but they don’t determine it. What really counts, he says, is your epigenetics, or the way in which your genes are expressed in the real world; this function can be strongly modified by your experience, which in turn greatly depends on how you direct your attention. As Davidson says, “That’s the process that ultimately determines who you are and what you do.” Not only how you focus, but also what you focus on can have important neurophysiological and behavioral consequences.

cooking cooperation coping strategies Così Fan Tutte (Mozart) courage CrazyBusy (Hallowell) creativity arts and brain and damaging myths and education and in Langer’s study of behavior mindfulness and personal renaissance and work and Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály ESM studies and flow research of leisure studied by culture attentional style and family relationships and motivation and Cushing, Robert Dalai Lama dance danger Darwin, Charles Davidson, Richard daydreaming death Death of a Salesman (Miller) decision-making behavioral economics and bounded rationality and about consumer goods education and effects of adaptation and experiencing vs. remembering self and focusing illusion and Kahneman’s views on leisure and risk and for short vs. long term Delta Wedding (Welty) demand-withdraw pattern depression cognitive therapy for drugs and Desimone, Robert Dickinson, Emily dictation, taking dieting, motivation for Dijksterhuis, Ap disgust distraction attentional problems and divorce dopamine dreams drinking drinking water, purity of drug abuse and addiction drugs ADHD and LSD du Barry, Madame Duckworth, Angela Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche Duncan, John Dutch study Dylan, Bob EA Ranch eating dinnertime and forgetting about motivation and eating disorders economic turmoil and goals economics, behavioral education ADHD and attention drugs and creativity and daydreaming and decision-making and multitasking and testing and see also colleges EEG (electroencephalography) tests efficiency multitasking and Einstein, Albert Ekman, Paul e-mail Emerson, Ralph Waldo emotions and feelings “cobra” high-value motivation and negative Norman’s conceptual model of brain and overeating and positive relationship of thought and robots and subliminal information and of wellness see also specific emotions and feelings empathy engagement Epictetus epigenetics epileptics, epilepsy evaluation, tyranny of Evan G. evolution Evolving Self, The (Csíkszentmihályi) executive network Experience Sampling Method (ESM) experiencing vs. remembering self experiential or respondent attention extraversion, extraverts eye-tracking experiments eyewitness testimony facial expressions fairness family friends vs. productivity and relationships and see also fathers; mothers; parents fathers fear amygdala and the sublime and see also anxiety; worrying Federal Communications Commission feedback feelings, see emotions and feelings Fellini, Federico Feynman, Richard fighter pilots Fitzgerald, F.


pages: 298 words: 76,727

The Microbiome Solution by Robynne Chutkan M.D.

clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, David Strachan, discovery of penicillin, epigenetics, hygiene hypothesis, Mason jar, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome

That’s when invading pathogens can disrupt our delicate bacterial balance, crowding out essential species that are never completely restored. So, Where Do Our Genes Come In? Many diseases that run in families that we thought were primarily genetic, such as heart disease and some forms of cancer, turn out to be hugely influenced by gut bacteria. It’s the complex and poorly understood interaction among your genes, your environment, and your immune system that ultimately determines whether you end up sick or not. Epigenetics is the study of how our environment affects heritable traits without changing the actual DNA material in our genes. It’s the classic nature-versus-nurture question: how much of who we are is a result of the genes we inherit, versus the environment we live in? WHAT WE’RE FINDING is that the environment living inside us—our microbiome—has one of the biggest impacts on our genes, turning them on and off and determining which ones are ultimately expressed as disease.

See also Live Dirty, Eat Clean Diet causes of dysbiosis, 54–56, 64–65, 136–37 to heal inflammation, 30–34, 120–21 impact on gut ecosystem, 11 influence of gut bacteria on food choices, 61 leaky gut and, 71–73 Specific Carbohydrate Diet, 122 versus supplements, 176–78 Western diet, 24 Dill Pickles, Garlic, 266–68 dips and spreads Artichoke & Spinach Dip, 223–24 Cashew “Cheese” Spread, 224 Guac-Kale-Mole, 222–23 Raspberry Chia Seed Jam, 259 DIY Nut Milk, 213 Dominguez-Bello, Maria Gloria, 101 dressings Basic Lemon Vinaigrette, 225–26 Creamy Ginger Tahini Dressing, 224–25 drinks Apple Pie Green Smoothie, 209–10 Blueberry Bliss Smoothie, 211 Coconut Milk Kefir, 263 Creamy Sweet Potato Smoothie, 210 Creamy Turmeric Latte, 212–13 DIY Nut Milk, 213 Everything but the Kitchen Sink Smoothie, 211–12 Green Colada, 213–14 Green Lemonade, 214–15 Lemonchia Coconut Water, 215 Live Dirty, Eat Clean Signature Smoothie, 208–209 Mint Chip Dessert Smoothie, 262–63 Dry Skin Facial Scrub, 147 dysbiosis agricultural practices causing, 109–11 definition, 49 diagnostic checklist, 90–91 dietary causes, 54–56, 64–65, 136–37 from hand sanitizers and chlorinated drinking water, 107–109 lifestyle causes and risk factors, 49–50, 56–58, 90–91 medical practices causing, 99–107 medications causing, 37, 48–49, 50–54, 69–71 dysbiosis, conditions associated with bloating, 62 celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, 75–79 chronic fatigue syndrome, 81 depression, 82 food allergies and sensitivities, 80–81 food cravings, 60–61 inflammatory bowel disease, 67–68 irritable bowel syndrome, 65–67 leaky gut, 71–73 new and existing maladies, 59–60, 91 parasites, 73–75 skin disorders, 82–87 small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, 68–70 vaginosis, 79–80 weight gain and obesity, 62, 95 yeast overgrowth, 63–64 Easy Gazpacho with Avocado, 252 eczema, 86–87 egg dishes Baked Avocado with Egg, 201–2 Vegetable Frittata, 200–201 Energy Balls, No-Bake, 255–56 epigenetics, 27 Essential Oil Scalp Treatment, 149 Everything but the Kitchen Sink Smoothie, 211–12 farm practices, 39, 109–11 Fasano, Alessio, 76 fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) administration modes, 186–87 at-home procedure, 191–94 donor selection, 187–89 frequency of treatment, 184–85 historical precedence, 180 indications for, 180–83 infection risk, 189–90 response time, 184 sources of specimens, 185–86 fennel bulb Homemade Vegetable Broth, 253–54 Roasted Fennel, 244 fermented foods Coconut Milk Kefir, 263 Garlic Dill Pickles, 266–68 German Apples and Kraut, 270–71 Gingered Carrots, 268 Kimchi, 264–66 in Live Dirty, Eat Clean Plan, 127 Sauerkraut, 269–70 synbiotics in, 168 fiber, dietary in complex carbohydrates, 125 insufficiency of, 55–56, 128 inulin and psyllium husk supplements, 177 in Live Dirty, Eat Clean Plan, 124 in plant foods, 129–30 Flank Steak, 239 flaxseeds, flax meal Banana Blueberry Flaxseed Muffins, 207–208 Chickpea Herbed Crackers, 257–58 flax “egg,” 257 Grain-Free & Vegan Veggie Burgers, 231–33 FMT.


Longevity: To the Limits and Beyond (Research and Perspectives in Longevity) by Jean-Marie Robine, James W. Vaupel, Bernard Jeune, Michel Allard

computer age, conceptual framework, demographic transition, Drosophila, epigenetics, life extension, phenotype, stem cell, stochastic process

Two strains, C57BLl6J, that differ 25 % in mean and maximum life span are shown from a larger set analyzed by Finch and Pike (I 996). In the 20 years since the original study was completed, the life spans of each of these strains has increased by about 25 %, which is most likely due to improvements of husbandry rather than genetic drift. controlled as laboratory conditions allow. This essay explores how these variations may arise epigenetically. I propose the hypothesis that individual variations in cell numbers differentiate individuals by the numbers of reserve cells which set critical thresholds for viability during aging. 1 Among the biological explanations for these variations in the life spans of individual mammals and other vertebrates is an outcome of cell fate determination during embryonic development, through which the numbers of cells normally show wide variations between individuals.

The rate ofloss of ovarian oocytes during postnatal aging approximates zero-order kinetics, like radioactive decay, and can be fitted nicely to the linear regression of log (oocytes) vs. age (Jones and Krohn 1961; Gosden et al. 1983; Nelson and Felicio 1986; Fig. 3). From data (Fig. 2) that mice cease cycling during aging when their oocyte and primary follicular reserve is < 150, it can be calculated from the regression equation that a 90 % reduction of oocyte loss by surgical resection should cause the acceleration of reproductive senescence by about seven months. 3 Here another caveat must be considered, a different possible epigenetic environmental phenomenon from the fetal neighbor effect. Rodents and probably other polytocous species show intra-uterine interactions between adjacent fetuses of different genders that, through influences on fetal sex steroid levels, have important outcomes on reproductive adult performance, including aging (vom Saal et al. 1994, pp 1272-4). For example, female mice that are flanked by males show an earlier onset of reproductive senescence than observed in females that are flanked by females, in association with delayed parturition (vom Saal and Moyer 1985) that increases still-births at later maternal ages in mice (Holinka et al. 1979; vom Saal and Moyer 1985).


pages: 460 words: 107,712

A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins

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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

Francis Crick65 showed an awareness of the possibility that general a priori arguments might be given, when he wrote, As far as I know, no one has given general theoretical reasons why such a mechanism must be less efficient than natural selection. I have since offered two such reasons, following an argument that the inheritance of acquired characteristics is in principle incompatible with embryology as we know it.66 First, acquired improvements could in principle be inherited only if embryology were preformationistic rather than epigenetic. Preformationistic embryology is blueprint embryology. The alternative is recipe, or computer-program, embryology. The important point about blueprint embryology is that it is reversible. If you have a house, you can, by following simple rules, reconstruct its blueprint. But if you have a cake, there is no set of simple rules that enables you to reconstruct its recipe. All living things on this planet grow by recipe embryology, not blueprint embryology.

., (i) Coevolutionary arms race, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Competition For opposite sex, (i), (ii) Survival of macromutations in absence of, (i) Within species, causing extinction, (i) Complexity (see also Genome: Information content of) As information content, (i) Increase in, (i) Complexity theory, Misuse of, (i) Computer, (i), (ii), 157 (see also Virus, Computer) Convergence Modern physics and eastern mysticism, (i) Science and religion, (i), (ii) Conway Morris, Simon, (i), (ii), (iii) Cooperation, Evolution of, (i) Copying, see Fidelity under Gene, Meme Creationism ‘Intelligent design’, (i), (ii) Young Earth Creationism, (i) Creationists Propaganda of, (i), (ii) Refusing to debate with, (i), (ii) Regrettable gift of punctuated equilibrists to, (i) Creator, The Added to later editions of Origin, (i)f Litters genomes with pseudogenes, (i) Treats genomes of newts capriciously, (i) Crick, Francis, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) Cronin, Helena, (i), (ii) Crow, James, (i)f Croze, Harvey, (i), (ii) Crystals Alleged magical properties of, (i) Self-assembly of, (i) Structure of lattices, (i) Cultural relativism, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Cultural Studies, (i) Culture, (i), 151 (see also Meme) Culturgen, (i), (ii) Cupitt, Don, (i) Curie brothers, (i) Cuvier, Georges, (i) Darwin, Charles, (i), (ii) His coining of ‘Devil’s Chaplain’, (i) His disagreement with Wallace, (i) His encyclopaedic knowledge, (i) His near anticipation of Fisher on sex ratios, (i) His near discovery of Mendelism, (i) His ‘other’ theory, see Sexual selection His timeless achievement, (i) His Victorian outlook, (i), (ii) His views on race, (i), (ii) Not against punctuationism, (i) On worms, (i) Darwinism Coining by Wallace, (i) Core, (i) Incompatibility with blending inheritance, (i) Moral implications of, (i) Opposing as human being, (i) Universal, (i), (ii), (iii) Data Compression of, (i) Independent, (i) Davies, Paul, (i) Dawkins, Juliet, (i), (ii), (iii) Dawkins’ Law of the Conservation of Difficulty, (i) Death, Forecasting, (i) Deleuze, Gilles, (i) Delius, Juan, (i) Dennett, Daniel, (i), (ii)f, (iii), (iv), (v) On memes, (i)f, (ii), (iii) Descent of Man, The, (i), (ii) Design, Illusion of, (i), (ii) Determinism, see ‘Genetic determinism’ Development (see also Embryology) Coding for complex life cycles, (i) Complex recipe-like effects of genes on, (i), (ii), (iii) Embryonic, Evolutionary change in terms of, (i) Point at which foetus ‘becomes human’, (i) Rubber band and blanket analogy for, (i) Devil’s Chaplain, A, (i), (ii) Diamond, (i), (ii) Diamond, Jared, (i) Diamond, John, (i), (ii), (iii) Digger wasp, (i) Disraeli, Benjamin (as typewriter transubstantiated), (i) DNA Duplicating, (i) Fingerprinting, (i) Information content of, (i), (ii) Junk, (i), (ii) National database, (i) Parasitic, (i), (ii) Selfish, (i)f, (ii) Sequencing, (i) Viral, (i), (ii) Dobzhansky, Theodosius, (i), (ii) Dog, (i) Dolly (sheep), (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) Double-blind trials, (i), (ii), (iii) Double Helix, The, (i) Douglas-Hamilton, Iain and Oria, (i) Düsing, Carl, (i) Eberhard, W. G., (i) Ecological community Of computer viruses, (i) Of genes, (i), (ii) Ecosystems, (i) Education, (i), (ii), (iii) Edwards, A. W. F., (i) Einstein, Albert, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) Eldredge, Niles, (i), (ii) Embryology (see also Development) ‘Computing’ a developing embryo, (i) Preformationistic vs. epigenetic, (i) Entropy, (i), (ii) Environment Ancestral, (i) Interaction of genes with, (i), (ii), (iii) Epidemiology In spread of scientific ideas, (i) Informational, (i) Of childhood crazes, (i), (ii) Of convictions, (i), (ii) Epigenesis, (i) Erectile organ, Mathematical significance of, (i) Essentialism, (i) Ethics Conjoined twins, (i) Human-centred view of, (i) Of abortion, (i), (ii) Of chimp/human hybrid, (i), (ii) Of human cloning, (i) Of stem cell research, (i), (ii) Reconstructing Lucy, (i) Science does not define, (i) Eucaryote, (i), (ii) Eugenics, (i) Evangelists, Television, (i) Evans, Christopher, (i) Ever Since Darwin, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Evolution As art of the developable, (i) As central to education, (i) As progressive, (i), (ii) Does not violate Second Law, (i) Gradualistic, (i), (ii) Myth of progress to man, (i), (ii), (iii) Nonadaptive, 95 (see also Neutral theory) Nonrandom nature of Darwinian, (i) Of computer viruses, (i) Of evolvability, (i), (ii) Of vertebrate eye, (i), (ii) Positive feedback in, (i) Role of genes in, (i) Evolutionarily stable state, (i) Exam Pressure, Destructive effects of, (i), (ii) Syllabuses, Limited nature of, (i) Expression of the Emotions, The, (i), (ii) Extended phenotype, (i), (ii) Extinction, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii) Fabre, Jean Henri, (i) Faith As symptom of infection by mind virus, (i) Exercised by belief in impossible things, (i) Intolerance to apostates, heretics, and rival faiths, (i) Respect for, (i), (ii), (iii) Spread of, compared to scientific ideas, (i) Suicide in the service of, (i), (ii) Feedback, Positive, (i), (ii) Female choice, see Sexual selection Feynman, Richard, (i) Fidelity in replication, see Gene, Meme Fisher, Kenneth, (i) Fisher, R.


pages: 312 words: 89,728

The End of My Addiction by Olivier Ameisen

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Albert Einstein, epigenetics, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), statistical model

Although “PTSD in any parent contributes to risk for depression, and parental traumatization is associated with increased anxiety disorders in offspring,” the study found that maternal traumatization has a greater impact than paternal traumatization. It noted that the children of women who survived the Holocaust are more likely to have low levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which would make them less emotionally resilient, and that the “tendency for maternal PTSD to make a greater contribution than paternal PTSD to [offspring’s] PTSD risk…paves the way for the speculation that epigenetic factors may be involved.” This could occur through a change in gene expression known as genomic imprinting, in which the genetic contribution of the father or mother outweighs that of the other parent.2 Do my early childhood experiences explain why I became anxious? An alcoholic? The old nature versus nurture debate remains undecided. A scientist looking at the impact of nurture on a category of medical problems and vulnerabilities might point to animal studies of “learned nervousness,” where, for example, the offspring of a nervous female monkey will imitate her behavior and themselves exhibit nervous behavior for the rest of their lives.

., “Maternal, not paternal, PTSD is related to increased risk for PTSD in offspring of Holocaust survivors,” Journal of Psychiatric Research, February 15, 2008, e-publication ahead of print. Regarding genomic imprinting, I am grateful to Jerome B. Posner, M.D., for bringing this phenomenon to my attention as the possible means of transmission of PTSD risk from parent to child and suggesting that it “is probably caused by epigenetic mechanisms, as for example, DNA methylation”; personal communication, August 17, 2008. Chapter 4. Doing Great and Feeling Awful 1. For relapse rates after rehab for alcoholism, see J. M. Polich, D. J. Armor, and H. B. Braiker, “Stability and change in drinking patterns,” in The Course of Alcoholism: Four Years After Treatment (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1981), 159–200. For relapse after rehab for other substance abuse, see W.

Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years by Richard Watson

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Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Black Swan, call centre, carbon footprint, cashless society, citizen journalism, commoditize, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, deglobalization, digital Maoism, disintermediation, epigenetics, failed state, financial innovation, Firefox, food miles, future of work, global supply chain, global village, hive mind, industrial robot, invention of the telegraph, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, linked data, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, mass immigration, Northern Rock, peak oil, pensions crisis, precision agriculture, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, self-driving car, speech recognition, telepresence, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing test, Victor Gruen, white flight, women in the workforce, Zipcar

Simply delete it with a pre-moistened wipe), disintegrators, short-wave scalpels, childcare robots, space tugs, oceanic thermal converters (a device that uses the sea to generate energy), face-recognition doors, spray-on surgical gloves, napcaps (hats that send you to sleep), stress-control clothing, gravity tubes (a way of removing gravity in a specific area), sleep surrogates and self-repairing roads. Another emerging field is epigenetics, the study of how particular genes act based on chemical and environmental factors. It’s significant because previously scientists thought that genes (and the DNA from which they are made) were “fixed” — DNA is destiny. But perhaps not. The new theory is that environmental factors can influence how a specific gene acts. Moreover, the so-called junk DNA that makes up 98% of all DNA possibly isn’t junk at all and can influence cell function.

A 311 Index ‘O’ Garage 170 3D printers 56 accelerated education 57 accidents 159, 161–6, 173, 246 ACNielsen 126 adaptive cruise control 165 Adeg Aktiv 50+ 208 advertising 115–16, 117, 119 Africa 70, 89, 129, 174, 221, 245, 270, 275, 290, 301 ageing 1, 10, 54, 69, 93, 139, 147–8, 164, 188, 202, 208, 221, 228–9, 237, 239, 251, 261, 292, 295, 297–8 airborne networks 56 airlines 272 allergies 196–7, 234, 236 Alliance Against Urban 4x4s 171 alternative energy 173 alternative futures viii alternative medicine 244–5 alternative technology 151 amateur production 111–12 Amazon 32, 113–14, 121 American Apparel 207 American Express 127–8 androids 55 Angola 77 anti-ageing drugs 231, 237 anti-ageing foods 188 anti-ageing surgery 2, 237 antibiotics 251 anxiety 10, 16, 30, 32, 36, 37, 128, 149, 179, 184, 197, 199, 225, 228, 243, 251, 252, 256, 263, 283–4, 295–6, 300, 301, 305 Apple 61, 115, 121, 130, 137–8, 157 Appleyard, Bryan 79 Argentina 210 Armamark Corporation 193 artificial intelliegence 22, 40, 44, 82 131, 275, 285–6, 297, 300 Asda 136, 137 Asia 11, 70, 78, 89, 129, 150, 174, 221, 280, 290, 292 Asimov, Isaac 44 Asos.com 216 asthma 235 auditory display software 29 Australia 20–21, 72–3, 76, 92, 121, 145, 196, 242, 246, 250, 270, 282 Austria 208 authenticity 32, 37, 179, 194, 203–11 authoritarianism 94 automated publishing machine (APM) 114 automation 292 automotive industry 154–77 B&Q 279 baby boomers 41, 208 bacterial factories 56 Bahney, Anna 145 Bahrain 2 baking 27, 179, 195, 199 Bangladesh 2 bank accounts, body double 132 banknotes 29, 128 banks 22, 123, 135–8, 150, 151 virtual 134 Barnes and Noble 114 bartering 151 BBC 25, 119 Become 207 Belgium 238 313 314 benriya 28 Berlusconi, Silvio 92 Best Buy 223 biofuel 64 biomechatronics 56 biometric identification 28, 35, 52, 68, 88, 132 bionic body parts 55 Biosphere Expeditions 259 biotechnology 40, 300 blended families 20 blogs 103, 107, 109, 120 Blurb 113 BMW 289 board games 225 body double bank accounts 132 body parts bionic 55 replacement 2, 188, 228 Bolivia 73 Bollywood 111 books 29, 105, 111–25 boomerang kids 145 brain transplants 231 brain-enhancing foods 188 Brazil 2, 84, 89, 173, 247, 254, 270, 290 Burger King 184 business 13, 275–92 Bust-Up 189 busyness 27, 195, 277 Calvin, Bill 45 Canada 63, 78, 240 cancer 251 car sharing 160, 169, 176 carbon credits 173 carbon footprints 255 carbon taxes 76, 172 cars classic 168–9 driverless 154–5 flying 156, 165 hydrogen-powered 12, 31, 157, 173 pay-as-you-go 167–8 self-driving 165 cascading failure 28 cash 126–7, 205 cellphone payments 129, 213 cellphones 3, 25, 35, 51, 53, 120, 121, FUTURE FILES 129, 156, 161, 251 chicken, Christian 192 childcare robots 57 childhood 27, 33–4, 82–3 children’s database 86 CHIME nations (China, India, Middle East) 2, 10, 81 China 2, 10, 11, 69–72, 75–81, 88, 92–3, 125, 137, 139–40, 142, 151, 163, 174–5, 176, 200, 222, 228, 247, 260, 270–71, 275, 279, 295, 302 choice 186–7 Christian chicken 192 Christianity, muscular 16, 73 Chrysler 176 cinema 110–11, 120 Citibank 29, 128 citizen journalism 103–4, 108 City Car Club 168 Clarke, Arthur C. 58–9 Clarke’s 187 classic cars 168–9 climate change 4, 11, 37, 43, 59, 64, 68, 74, 77–9, 93, 150, 155, 254, 257, 264, 298–9 climate-controlled buildings 254, 264 cloning 38 human 23, 249 CNN 119 coal 176 Coca-Cola 78, 222–3 co-creation 111–12, 119 coins 29, 128, 129 collective intelligence 45–6 Collins, Jim 288 comfort eating 200 Comme des Garçons 216 community 36 compassion 120 competition in financial services 124–5 low-cost 292 computers disposable 56 intelligent 23, 43 organic 56 wearable 56, 302 computing 3, 33, 43, 48, 82 connectivity 3, 10, 11, 15, 91, 120, Index 233, 261, 275–6, 281, 292, 297, 299 conscientious objection taxation 86 contactless payments 123, 150 continuous partial attention 53 control 36, 151, 225 convenience 123, 178–9, 184, 189, 212, 223, 224 Coren, Stanley 246 corporate social responsibility 276, 282, 298 cosmetic neurology 250 Costa Rica 247 Craig’s List 102 creativity 11, 286; see also innovation credit cards 141–3, 150 crime 86–9 forecasting 86–7 gene 57, 86 Croatia 200 Crowdstorm 207 Cuba 75 cultural holidays 259, 273 culture 11, 17–37 currency, global 127, 151 customization 56, 169, 221–2, 260 cyberterrorism 65, 88–9 Cyc 45 cynicism 37 DayJet 262 death 237–9 debt 123–4, 140–44, 150 defense 63, 86 deflation 139 democracy 94 democratization of media 104, 108, 113 demographics 1, 10, 21, 69, 82, 93, 202, 276, 279–81, 292, 297–8 Denmark 245 department stores 214 deregulation 11, 3 Destiny Health 149 detox 200 Detroit Project 171 diagnosis 232 remote 228 digital downloads 121 evaporation 25 315 immortality 24–5 instant gratification syndrome 202 Maoism 47 money 12, 29, 123, 126–7, 129, 132, 138, 150, 191 nomads 20, 283 plasters 241 privacy 25, 97, 108 readers 121 digitalization 37, 292 Dinner by Design 185 dirt holidays 236 discount retailers 224 Discovery Health 149 diseases 2, 228 disintegrators 57 Disney 118–19 disposable computers 56 divorce 33, 85 DNA 56–7, 182 database 86 testing, compulsory 86 do-it-yourself dinner shops 185–6 dolls 24 doorbells 32 downshifters 20 Dream Dinners 185 dream fulfillment 148 dressmaking 225 drink 178–200 driverless cars 154–5 drugs anti-ageing 231, 237 performance-improving 284–5 Dubai 264, 267, 273 dynamic pricing 260 E Ink 115 e-action 65 Earthwatch 259 Eastern Europe 290 eBay 207 e-books 29, 37, 60, 114, 115, 302 eco-luxe resorts 272 economic collapse 2, 4, 36, 72, 221, 295 economic protectionism 10, 15, 72, 298 economy travel 272 316 Ecuador 73 education 15, 18, 82–5, 297 accelerated 57 lifelong learning 290 Egypt 2 electricity shortages 301 electronic camouflage 56 electronic surveillance 35 Elephant 244 email 18–19, 25, 53–4, 108 embedded intelligence 53, 154 EMF radiation 251 emotional capacity of robots 40, 60 enclosed resorts 273 energy 72, 75, 93 alternative 173 nuclear 74 solar 74 wind 74 enhancement surgery 249 entertainment 34, 121 environment 4, 10, 11, 14, 64, 75–6, 83, 93, 155, 171, 173, 183, 199, 219–20, 252, 256–7, 271, 292, 301 epigenetics 57 escapism 16, 32–3, 121 Estonia 85, 89 e-tagging 129–30 e-therapy 242 ethical bankruptcy 35 ethical investing 281 ethical tourism 259 ethics 22, 24, 41, 53, 78, 86, 132, 152, 194, 203, 213, 232, 238, 249–50, 258, 276, 281–2, 298–9 eugenics 252 Europe 11, 70, 72, 81, 91, 141, 150, 174–5, 182, 190, 192, 209 European Union 15, 139 euthanasia 238, 251 Everquest 33 e-voting 65 experience 224 extended financial families 144 extinction timeline 9 Facebook 37, 97, 107 face-recognition doors 57 fakes 32 family 36, 37 FUTURE FILES family loans 145 fantasy-related industries 32 farmaceuticals 179, 182 fast food 178, 183–4 fat taxes 190 fear 10, 34, 36, 38, 68, 150, 151, 305 female-only spaces 210–11, 257 feminization 84 financial crisis 38, 150–51, 223, 226, 301 financial services 123–53, 252 trends 123–5 fish farming 181 fixed-price eating 200 flashpacking 273 flat-tax system 85–6 Florida, Richard 36, 286, 292 flying cars 165 food 69–70, 72, 78–9, 162, 178–201 food anti-ageing 188 brain-enhancing 188 fast 178, 183–4 functional 179 growing your own 179, 192, 195 history 190–92 passports 200 slow 178, 193 tourism 273 trends 178–80 FoodExpert ID 182 food-miles 178, 193, 220 Ford 169, 176, 213, 279–80 forecasting 49 crime 86–7 war 49 Forrester Research 132 fractional ownership 168, 175, 176, 225 France 103, 147, 170, 189, 198, 267 Friedman, Thomas 278–9, 292 FriendFinder 32 Friends Reunited 22 frugality 224 functional food 179 Furedi, Frank 68 gaming 32–3, 70, 97, 111–12, 117, 130, 166, 262 Gap 217 Index gardening 27, 148 gas 176 GE Money 138, 145 gendered medicine 244–5 gene silencing 231 gene, crime 86 General Motors 157, 165 Generation X 41, 281 Generation Y 37, 41, 97, 106, 138, 141–2, 144, 202, 208, 276, 281, 292 generational power shifts 292 Genes Reunited 35 genetic enhancement 40, 48 history 35 modification 31, 182 testing 221 genetics 3, 10, 45, 251–2 genomic medicine 231 Germany 73, 147, 160, 170, 204–5, 216–17, 261, 267, 279, 291 Gimzewski, James 232 glamping 273 global currency 127 global warming 4, 47, 77, 93, 193, 234 globalization 3, 10, 15–16, 36–7, 63–7, 72–3, 75, 81–2, 88, 100, 125, 139, 143, 146, 170, 183, 189, 193–5, 221, 224, 226, 233–4, 247–8, 263, 275, 278–80, 292, 296, 299 GM 176 Google 22, 61, 121, 137, 293 gout 235 government 14, 18, 36, 63–95, 151 GPS 3, 15, 26, 50, 88, 138, 148, 209, 237, 262, 283 Grameen Bank 135 gravity tubes 57 green taxes 76 Greenpeace 172 GRIN technologies (genetics, robotics, internet, nanotechnology) 3, 10, 11 growing your own food 178, 192, 195 Gucci 221 Gulf States 125, 260, 268 H&M 217 habitual shopping 212 Handy, Charles 278 317 Happily 210 happiness 63–4, 71–2, 146, 260 health 15, 82, 178–9, 199 health monitoring 232, 236, 241 healthcare 2, 136, 144, 147–8, 154, 178–9, 183–4, 189–91, 228–53, 298; see also medicine trends 214–1534–7 Heinberg, Richard 74 Helm, Dieter 77 Heritage Foods 195 hikikomori 18 hive mind 45 holidays 31, 119; see also tourism holidays at home 255 cultural 259 dirt 236 Hollywood 33, 111–12 holographic displays 56 Home Equity Share 145 home baking 225 home-based microgeneration 64 home brewing 225 honesty 152 Hong Kong 267 hospitals 228, 241–3, 266 at home 228, 238, 240–42 hotels 19, 267 sleep 266 human cloning 23, 249 Hungary 247 hybrid humans 22 hydrogen power 64 hydrogen-powered cars 12, 31, 157, 173 Hyperactive Technologies 184 Hyundai 170 IBM 293 identities, multiple 35, 52 identity 64, 71 identity theft 88, 132 identity verification, two-way 132 immigration 151–2, 302 India 2, 10, 11, 70–72, 76, 78–9, 81, 92, 111, 125, 135, 139, 163, 174–5, 176, 247, 249–50, 254, 260, 270, 275, 279, 302 indirect taxation 86 318 individualism 36 Indonesia 2, 174 industrial robots 42 infinite content 96–7 inflation 151 information overlead 97, 120, 159, 285; see also too much information innovation 64, 81–2, 100, 175, 222, 238, 269, 277, 286–8, 291, 297, 299 innovation timeline 8 instant gratification 213 insurance 123, 138, 147–50, 154, 167, 191, 236, 250 pay-as-you-go 167 weather 264 intelligence 11 embedded 53, 154 implants 229 intelligent computers 23, 43 intelligent night vision 162–3 interaction, physical 22, 25, 97, 110, 118, 133–4, 215, 228, 243, 276, 304 interactive media 97, 105 intergenerational mortgages 140, 144–5 intermediaries 123, 135 internet 3, 10, 11, 17–18, 25, 68, 103, 108, 115–17, 124, 156, 240–41, 261, 270, 283, 289, 305 failure 301 impact on politics 93–4 sensory 56 interruption science 53 iPills 240 Iran 2, 69 Ishiguro, Hiroshi 55 Islamic fanaticism 16 Italy 92, 170, 198–9 iTunes 115, 130; see also Apple Japan 1, 18, 26, 28–9, 54–5, 63, 80–81, 114, 121, 128–9, 132, 140, 144–5, 147, 174, 186, 189, 192, 196, 198, 200, 209–10, 223, 240, 260, 264, 271, 279, 291 jetpacks 60 job security 292 journalism 96, 118 journalism, citizen 103–4, 107 joy-makers 57 FUTURE FILES Kaboodle 207 Kapor, Mitchell 45 Kenya 128 keys 28–9 Kindle 60, 121 Kramer, Peter 284 Kuhn, Thomas 281 Kurzweil, Ray 45 Kuwait 2 labor migration 290–91 labor shortages 3, 80–81, 289–90 Lanier, Jaron 47 laser shopping 212 leisure sickness 238 Let’s Dish 185 Lexus 157 libraries 121 Libya 73 life-caching 24, 107–8 lighting 158, 160 Like.com 216 limb farms 249 limited editions 216–17 live events 98, 110, 304 localization 10, 15–16, 116, 128, 170, 178, 189, 193, 195, 215, 220, 222–3, 224, 226, 255, 270, 297 location tagging 88 location-based marketing 116 longevity 188–9, 202 Longman, Philip 71 low cost 202, 219–22 luxury 202, 221, 225, 256, 260, 262, 265–6, 272 machinamas 112 machine-to-machine communication 56 marketing 115–16 location-based 116 now 116 prediction 116 Marks & Spencer 210 Maslow, Abraham 305–6 masstigue 223 materialism 37 Mayo Clinic 243 McDonald’s 130, 168, 180, 184 McKinsey 287 Index meaning, search for 16, 259, 282, 290, 305–6 MECU 132 media 96–122 democratization of 104, 108, 115 trends 96–8 medical outsourcing 247–8 medical tourism 2, 229, 247 medicine 188, 228–53; see also healthcare alternative 243–4 gendered 244–5 genomic 231 memory 229, 232, 239–40 memory loss 47 memory pills 231, 240 memory recovery 2, 228–9, 239 memory removal 29–30, 29, 240 Menicon 240 mental health 199 Meow Mix 216 Merriman, Jon 126 metabolomics 56 meta-materials 56 Metro 204–5 Mexico 2 micromedia 101 micro-payments 130, 150 Microsoft 137, 147, 293 Middle East 10, 11, 70, 81, 89, 119, 125, 129, 139, 174–5, 268, 301 migration 3, 11, 69–70, 78, 82, 234, 275, 290–91 boomerang 20 labor 290–91 Migros 215 military recruitment 69 military vehicles 158–9 mind-control toys 38 mindwipes 57 Mitsubishi 198, 279 mobile payments 123, 150 Modafinil 232 molecular biology 231 monetization 118 money 123–52 digital 12, 29, 123, 126–7, 129, 132, 138, 150, 191 monitoring, remote 154, 168, 228, 242 monolines 135, 137 319 mood sensitivity 41, 49, 154, 158, 164, 187–8 Morgan Stanley 127 mortality bonds 148 Mozilla Corp. 289 M-PESA 129 MTV 103 multigenerational families 20 multiple identities 35, 52 Murdoch, Rupert 109 muscular Christianity 16, 73 music industry 121 My-Food-Phone 242 MySpace 22, 25, 37, 46, 97, 107, 113 N11 nations (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam) 2 nanoelectronics 56 nanomedicine 32 nanotechnology 3, 10, 23, 40, 44–5, 50, 157, 183, 232, 243, 286, 298 napcaps 56 narrowcasting 109 NASA 25, 53 nationalism 16, 70, 72–3, 139, 183, 298, 302 natural disasters 301 natural resources 2, 4, 11, 64, 298–9 Nearbynow 223 Nestlé 195 Netherlands 238 NetIntelligence 283 networkcar.com 154 networks 28, 166, 288 airborne 56 neural nets 49 neuronic whips 57 neuroscience 33, 48 Neville, Richard 58–9 New Economics Foundation 171 New Zealand 265, 269 newspapers 29, 102–9, 117, 119, 120 Nigeria 2, 73 Nike 23 nimbyism 63 no-frills 224 Nokia 61, 105 Norelift 189 320 Northern Rock 139–40 Norwich Union 167 nostalgia 16, 31–2, 51, 169–70, 179, 183, 199, 203, 225, 303 now marketing 116 nuclear annihilation 10, 91 nuclear energy 74 nutraceuticals 179, 182 Obama, Barack 92–3 obesity 75, 190–92, 199, 250–51 oceanic thermal converters 57 oil 69, 72–3, 93, 151, 174, 176, 272, 273, 301 Oman 2, 270 online relationships 38 organic computers 56 organic food 200, 226 osteoporosis 235 outsourcing 224, 292 Pakistan 2 pandemics 4, 10, 16, 59, 72, 128, 232, 234, 272, 295–7, 301 paper 37 parasite singles 145 passwords 52 pictorial 52 pathogens 233 patient simulators 247 patina 31 patriotism 63, 67, 299 pay-as-you-go cars 167–8 pay-as-you-go insurance 167 payments cellphone 129, 213 contactless 123, 150 micro- 130, 150 mobile 123, 150 pre- 123, 150 PayPal 124, 137 Pearson, Ian 44 performance-improving drugs 284–5 personal restraint 36 personal robots 42 personalization 19, 26, 56, 96–8, 100, 102–3, 106, 108–9, 120, 138, 149, 183, 205–6, 223, 244–5, 262, 267, 269 Peru 73 FUTURE FILES Peters, Tom 280 Pharmaca 244 pharmaceuticals 2, 33, 228, 237 Philippines 2, 212, 290 Philips 114 Philips, Michael 232–3 photographs 108 physical interaction 22, 25, 97, 110, 118, 133–4, 215, 228, 243, 276, 304 physicalization 96–7, 101–2, 106, 110, 120 pictorial passwords 52 piggy banks 151 Pink, Daniel 285 plagiarism 83 polarization 15–16, 285 politics 37, 63–95, 151–2 regional 63 trends 63–5 pop-up retail 216, 224 pornography 31 portability 178, 183–4 power shift eastwards 2, 10–11, 81, 252 Prada 205–6, 216 precision agriculture 181–2 precision healthcare 234–7 prediction marketing 116 predictions 37, 301–2 premiumization 223 pre-payments 123, 150 privacy 3, 15, 41, 50, 88, 154, 165–7, 205, 236, 249, 285, 295 digital 25, 97, 108 Procter & Gamble 105, 280 product sourcing 224 Prosper 124, 135 protectionism 67, 139, 156, 220, 226, 301 economic 10, 15, 72, 299 provenance 178, 193, 226 proximity indicators 32 PruHealth 149 psychological neoteny 52 public ownership 92 public transport 171 purposeful shopping 212 Qatar 2 quality 96–7, 98, 101, 109 Index quantum mechanics 56 quantum wires 56 quiet materials 56 radiation, EMF 251 radio 117 randominoes 57 ranking 34, 83, 109, 116, 134, 207 Ranking Ranqueen 186 reality mining 51 Really Cool Foods 185 rebalancing 37 recession 139–40, 202, 222 recognition 36, 304 refrigerators 197–8 refuge 121 regeneration 233 regional food 200 regional politics 63 regionality 178, 192–3 regulation 124, 137, 143 REI 207 Reid, Morris 90 relationships, online 38 religion 16, 58 remote diagnosis 228 remote monitoring 154, 168, 228, 242 renting 225 reputation 34–5 resistance to technology 51 resorts, enclosed 273 resource shortages 11, 15, 146, 155, 178, 194, 254, 300 resources, natural 2, 4, 11, 64, 73–4, 143, 298–9 respect 36, 304 restaurants 186–8 retail 20–21, 202–27, 298 pop-up 216, 224 stealth 215 theater 214 trends 202–3 Revkin, Andy 77 RFID 3, 24, 50, 121, 126, 149, 182, 185, 192, 196, 205 rickets 232 risk 15, 124, 134, 138, 141, 149–50, 162, 167, 172, 191, 265, 299–300, 303 Ritalin 232 321 road pricing 166 Robertson, Peter 49 robogoats 55 robot department store 209 Robot Rules 44 robotic assistants 54, 206 concierges 268 financial advisers 131–2 lobsters 55 pest control 57 soldiers 41, 55, 60 surgery 35, 41, 249 robotics 3, 10, 41, 44–5, 60, 238, 275, 285–6, 292, 297 robots 41, 54–5, 131, 237, 249 childcare 57 emotional capacity of 40, 60 industrial 42 personal 42 security 209 therapeutic 41, 54 Russia 2, 69, 72, 75, 80, 89, 92–3, 125, 174, 232, 254, 270, 295, 302 safety 32, 36, 151, 158–9, 172–3, 182, 192, 196 Sainsbury’s 215 Salt 187 sanctuary tourism 273 satellite tracking 166–7 Saudi Arabia 2, 69 Schwartz, Barry 186 science 13, 16, 40–62, 300 interruption 53 trends 40–42 scramble suits 57 scrapbooking 25, 108, 225 Sears Roebuck 137 seasonality 178, 193–4 second-hand goods 224 Second Life 133, 207–8 securitization 124, 140 security 16, 31, 151 security robots 209 self-driving cars 165 self-medication 242 self-publishing 103, 113–14 self-reliance 35, 75 self-repairing roads 57 322 self-replicating machines 23, 44 Selfridges 214 sensor motes 15, 50, 196 sensory internet 56 Sharia-based investment 125 Shop24 209 shopping 202–27 habitual 212 laser 212 malls 211–5 purposeful 212 slow 213 social 207 Shopping 2.0 224 short-wave scalpels 57 silicon photonics 56 simplicity 169–70, 179, 186, 202, 218, 224, 226, 272 Singapore 241 single-person households 19–20, 202–3, 208–9, 221, 244, 298, 304 skills shortage 293, 302 sky shields 57 sleep 159–60, 188, 228, 231, 246–7, 265 sleep debt 96, 266 sleep hotels 266 sleep surrogates 57 slow food 178, 193 slow shopping 213 slow travel 273 smart devices 26–7, 28, 32, 35, 44, 50, 56, 57, 164, 206, 207 smart dust 3, 15, 50, 196 smartisans 20 Smartmart 209 snakebots 55 social networks 97, 107, 110, 120, 133, 217, 261 social shopping 207 society 13, 15–16, 17–37 trends 15–16 Sodexho 193 solar energy 74 Sony 114, 121 South Africa 84, 149, 242 South America 82, 270 South Korea 2, 103, 128–9 space ladders 56 space mirrors 47 space tourism 271, 273 FUTURE FILES space tugs 57 speed 164, 202, 209, 245, 296–7 spirituality 16, 22, 282, 298, 306 spot knowledge 47 spray-on surgical gloves 57 St James’s Ethics Centre 282 stagflation 139 starch-based plastics 64 stealth retail 215 stealth taxation 86 Sterling, Bruce 55 storytelling 203 Strayer, David 161 street signs 162–3 stress 32, 96, 235, 243, 245–6, 258–9, 265, 257–9, 275, 277, 283–5 stress-control clothing 57 stupidity 151, 302 Stylehive 207 Sudan 73 suicide tourism 236 Super Suppers 185 supermarkets 135–6, 184–6, 188, 191–2, 194, 202–3, 212, 215, 218–19, 224, 229 surgery 2, 31 anti-ageing 2, 237 enhancement 249 Surowiecki, James 45 surveillance 35, 41 sustainability 4, 37, 74, 181, 193–5, 203, 281, 288, 298–9 Sweden 84 swine flu 38, 251, 272 Switzerland 168, 210, 215 synthetic biology 56 Taco Bell 184 Tactical Numerical Deterministic Model 49 tagging, location 86, 88 Taiwan 81 talent, war for 275, 279, 293; see also labor shortages Target 216 Tasmania 267 Tata Motors 174, 176 taxation 85–6, 92, 93 carbon 76, 172 conscientious objection 86 Index fat 190 flat 85–6 green 76 indirect 86 stealth 86 Tchibo 217 technology 3, 14–16, 18, 22, 26, 28, 32, 37, 40–62, 74–5, 82–3, 96, 119, 132, 147–8, 154, 157, 160, 162, 165–7, 178, 182, 195–8, 208, 221, 229, 237, 242–3, 249, 256, 261, 265–6, 268, 275–6, 280, 283–4, 292, 296–7, 300 refuseniks 30, 51, 97 trends 40–42 telemedicine 228, 238, 242 telepathy 29 teleportation 56 television 21, 96, 108, 117, 119 terrorism 67, 91, 108, 150, 262–3, 267, 272, 295–6, 301 Tesco 105, 135–6, 185, 206, 215, 219, 223 Thailand 247, 290 therapeutic robots 41, 54 thermal imaging 232 things that won’t change 10, 303–6 third spaces 224 ThisNext 207 thrift 224 Tik Tok Easy Shop 209 time scarcity 30, 96, 102, 178, 184–6, 218, 255 time shifting 96, 110, 116 time stamps 50 timeline, extinction 9 timeline, innovation 8 timelines 7 tired all the time 246 tobacco industry 251 tolerance 120 too much choice (TMC) 29, 202, 218–19 too much information (TMI) 29, 51, 53, 202, 229; see also information overload tourism 254–74 cultural 273 ethical 259 food 273 323 local 273 medical 2, 229, 247 sanctuary 273 space 271, 273 suicide 238 tribal 262 Tourism Concern 259 tourist quotas 254, 271 Toyota 48–9, 157 toys, mind-control 38 traceability 195 trading down 224 transparency 3, 15, 143, 152, 276, 282, 299 transport 15, 154–77, 298 public 155, 161 trends 154–6 transumerism 223 travel 2, 3, 11, 148, 254–74 economy 272 luxury 272 slow 273 trends 254–6 trend maps 6–7 trends 1, 5–7, 10, 13 financial services 123–5 food 178–80 healthcare 228–9 media 96–8 politics 63–5 retail 202–3 science and technology 40–42 society 15–16 transport 154–6 travel 254–6 work 275–7 tribal tourism 262 tribalism 15–16, 63, 127–8, 183, 192, 220, 260 trust 82, 133, 137, 139, 143, 192, 203, 276, 282–3 tunnels 171 Turing test 45 Turing, Alan 44 Turkey 2, 200, 247 Twitter 60, 120 two-way identity verification 132 UAE 2 UFOs 58 324 UK 19–20, 72, 76, 84, 86, 90–91, 100, 102–3, 105, 128–9, 132, 137, 139–42, 147–9, 150, 163, 167–8, 170–71, 175, 185, 195–6, 199, 200, 206, 210, 214–16, 238, 259, 267–8, 278–9, 284, 288 uncertainty 16, 30, 34, 52, 172, 199, 246, 263, 300, 303 unemployment 151 Unilever 195 University of Chicago 245–6 urban rental companies 176 urbanization 11, 18–19, 78, 84, 155, 233 Uruguay 200 US 1, 11, 19–21, 23, 55–6, 63, 67, 69, 72, 75, 77, 80–83, 86, 88–90, 92, 104–5, 106, 121, 129–33, 135, 139–42, 144, 147, 149, 150, 151, 162, 167, 169–71, 174, 185, 190–3, 195, 205–6, 209, 211, 213, 216, 218, 220, 222–3, 237–8, 240–8, 250, 260, 262, 267–8, 275, 279–80, 282–4, 287, 291 user-generated content (UGC) 46, 97, 104, 289 utility 224 values 36, 152 vending machines 209 Venezuela 69, 73 verbal signatures 132 VeriChip 126 video on demand 96 Vietnam 2, 290 Vino 100 113 Virgin Atlantic 261 virtual adultery 33 banks 134 economy 130–31 protests 65 reality 70 sex 32 stores 206–8 vacations 32, 261 worlds 157, 213, 255, 261, 270, 305 Vocation Vacations 259–60 Vodafone 137 voice recognition 41 voice-based internet search 56 voicelifts 2, 237 FUTURE FILES Volkswagen 175 voluntourism 259 Volvo 164 voting 3, 68, 90–91 Walgreens 244 Wal-Mart 105, 136–7, 215, 219–20, 223, 244, 282 war 68–9, 72 war for talent 275, 279; see also labor shortages war forecasting 49 water 69–70, 74, 77–9, 199 wearable computers 55 weather 64 weather insurance 264 Web 2.0 93, 224 Weinberg, Peter 125 wellbeing 2, 183, 188, 199 white flight 20 Wikipedia 46, 60, 104 wild swimming 273 Wilson, Edward O. 74 wind energy 74 wine producers 200 wisdom of idiots 47 Wizard 145 work 275–94 trends 275–94 work/life balance 64, 71, 260, 277, 289, 293 worldphone 19 xenophobia 16, 63 YouTube 46, 103, 107, 112 Zara 216–17 Zipcar 167 Zopa 124, 134


pages: 309 words: 86,909

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson; Kate Pickett

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basic income, Berlin Wall, clean water, Diane Coyle, epigenetics, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, God and Mammon, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land reform, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, offshore financial centre, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

Stress hormones cross the placental barrier and affect the baby’s hormone levels and growth in the womb. Also important in influencing children’s development is the stress they experience themselves in infancy. The quality of care and nurture, the quality of attachment and how much conflict there is, all affect stress hormones and the child’s emotional and cognitive development. Although not yet identified in humans, sensitive periods in early life may sometimes involve ‘epigenetic’ processes by which early exposures and experience may switch particular genes on or off to pattern development in the longer term. Differences in nursing behaviour in mother rats have been shown to affect gene expression in their offspring, so providing ways of adapting to the environment in the light of early experience.336 In the past, there was a strong tendency simply to regard children who had had a very stressful early life as ‘damaged’.

Whiten, ‘Egalitarianism and Machiavellian intelligence in human evolution’, in P. Mellars and K. Gibson K. (eds), Modelling the Early Human Mind. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs, 1996. 334. R. G. Wilkinson, The Impact of Inequality. New York: New Press, 2005. 335. J. Woodburn, ‘Egalitarian societies’, Man (1982) 17: 431–51. 336. I. C. G. Weaver, N. Cervoni, F. A. Champagne, A. C. d’Alessio, S. Sharma, J. R. Seckl, S. Dymov, M. Szyf and M. J. Meaney, ‘Epigenetic programming by maternal behaviour’, Nature Neuroscience (2004) 7: 847–54. 337. S. Morris, ‘Women laughed as they forced toddlers to take part in “dog fight”’, Guardian, 21 April 2007. 338. G. Rizzolatti and L. Craighero, ‘The mirror-neuron system’, Annual Review of Neuroscience (2004) 27: 169–72. 339. M. Kosfeld, M. Heinrichs, P. J. Zak, U. Fischbacher and E. Fehr, ‘Oxytocin increases trust in humans’, Nature (2005) 435: 673–6. 340.


pages: 459 words: 123,220

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam

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assortative mating, correlation does not imply causation, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, ending welfare as we know it, epigenetics, full employment, George Akerlof, helicopter parent, impulse control, income inequality, index card, jobless men, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, school choice, selection bias, Socratic dialogue, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the built environment, upwardly mobile, Walter Mischel, white flight, working poor

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain: Working Paper 3 (2005/2014): 4, 6; Center on the Developing Child, “The Impact of Early Adversity on Children’s Development,” InBrief Series, Harvard University, accessed June 6, 2014, http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/resources/briefs/inbrief_series/inbrief_the_impact_of_early_adversity/. 33. Ian C. G. Weaver, Nadia Cervoni, Frances A. Champagne, Ana C. D’Alessio, Shakti Sharma, Jonathan R. Seckl, Sergiy Dymov, Moshe Szyf, and Michael J. Meaney, “Epigenetic Programming by Maternal Behavior,” Nature Neuroscience 7 (August 2004): 847–54. In fact, the Meaney research helped to call into question the hoary distinction between nature and nurture, since licking and grooming in one generation appears to be transmitted genetically to the next, but the epigenetic dimensions of the research are less immediately relevant to our interests here. 34. Philip A. Fisher, Megan R. Gunnar, Mary Dozier, Jacqueline Bruce, and Katherine C. Pears, “Effects of Therapeutic Interventions for Foster Children on Behavioral Problems, Caregiver Attachment, and Stress Regulatory Neural Systems,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1094 (December 2006): 215–25. 35.


pages: 488 words: 148,340

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

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back-to-the-land, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, dark matter, epigenetics, gravity well, mandelbrot fractal, microbiome, traveling salesman, Turing test

The assertion seemed questionable, but then again, there were regions on Earth still within that thousand-year aftermath of violent empires, and they were indeed (at least twelve years previous to this moment) full of strife and suffering. How could there be such transgenerational effects and affects? We found it very hard to understand. Human history, like language, like emotion, was a collision of fuzzy logics. So much contingency, so few causal mechanisms, such weak paradigms. What is this thing called hate? A hurt mammal never forgets. Epigenetic theory suggests an almost Lamarckian transfer down the generations; some genes are activated by experiences, others are not. Genes, language, history: what it all meant in actual practice was that fear passed down through the years, altering organisms for generation after generation, thus altering the species. Fear, an evolutionary force. Of course: how could it be otherwise? Is anger always just fear flung outward at the world?

And it isn’t clear it’s gotten into anything but a water droplet in an electrical compartment.” Jochi shook his head. “I don’t understand how that could be.” “Neither does Aram. None of them understand it.” “Prions, wow. Are people scared?” “Yes. Of course.” “Of course.” His expression grew grim. “So.” She put her hand on her window. “How are you doing out here?” “I’m all right. I’ve been watching a fascinating feed from China. They seem to have made some great progress in epigenetics and proteomics.” “What else, though? Have you done any stargazing?” “Oh yes. A couple of hours every day. I’ve been looking in the Coal Sack. And finding new ways to look through our magnetic screen toward Sol. Although it could be the screen is distorting the image. Either that, or else Sol is pulsing a little. I sometimes think it’s signaling us.” “Sol? The star?” “Yes. It looks like that.”


pages: 414 words: 119,116

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World by Michael Marmot

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active measures, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, Bonfire of the Vanities, Broken windows theory, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, centre right, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Doha Development Round, epigenetics, financial independence, future of work, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Kenneth Rogoff, Kibera, labour market flexibility, lump of labour, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, New Urbanism, obamacare, paradox of thrift, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, road to serfdom, Simon Kuznets, Socratic dialogue, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, The Spirit Level, trickle-down economics, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working poor

There are exciting and rich pickings here for scientists investigating the impact of social environment on mind and body, treated together. One of the best worked out comes from the studies of Michael Meaney at McGill University in Montreal. He has been peeling back the layers of incomprehension to reveal a remarkably coherent picture, not only of how the environment influences the brain and stress pathways, but how it changes the function of genes – epigenetics.23 Mother rats nurture their pups in not so very different ways from those enjoyed by human infants. The rats do it by licking and grooming their offspring. One way to increase mother rat’s attentiveness is to handle the rat and remove the pup from Mum for a brief period. On her pup’s return, mother engages in extra licking and grooming. It turns out that this especially attentive licking and grooming programmes the pup’s HPA axis.

., here employment conditions, here see also unemployment empowerment, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and education, here and health behaviours, here political, here and social participation, here England, see United Kingdom English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), here, here English Review, see Fair Society, Healthy Lives epigenetics, here equality of opportunity, here, here, here Estonia, here, here Ethiopia, here, here European Central Bank, here, here, here European Review of Social Determinants and the Health Divide, here, here, here, here, here, here Evans, Robert, here Evelyn, John, here Everington, Sam, here exercise, see physical activity Experience Corps, here Fair Society, Healthy Lives, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here fairness (definition), here fecklessness, here, here, here, here fertility rates, here Financial Times, here Finland, here, here, here, here education system, here, here, here, here gender equity in education, here fire fighters, here, here, here Fitzgerald, F.


pages: 420 words: 143,881

The Blind Watchmaker; Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins

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epigenetics, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Menlo Park, pattern recognition, phenotype, random walk, silicon-based life, Steven Pinker

The ‘coordinates’ of a callus could not be ‘looked up’ in the genetic record and the ‘appropriate’ genes altered. Embryonic development is a process, in which all working genes participate; a process which, if correctly followed in the forward direction, will result in an adult body; but it is a process that is inherently, by its very nature, irreversible. The inheritance of acquired characteristics not only doesn’t happen: it couldn’t happen in any life-form whose embryonic development is epigenetic rather than preformationistic. Any biologist that advocates Lamarckism is, though he may be shocked to hear it, implicitly advocating an atomistic, deterministic, reductionistic embryology. I didn’t want to burden the general reader with that little string of pretentious jargon words: I just couldn’t resist the irony, for the biologists who come closest to sympathizing with Lamarckism today also happen to be particularly fond of using those same cant words in criticizing others.

It is a general weakness that applies to any kind of adaptive complexity, and I think it must apply to life anywhere in the universe, no matter how alien and strange the details of that life may be. Our refutation of Lamarckism, then, is a bit devastating. First, its key assumption, that of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, seems to be false in all life-forms that we have studied. Second, it not only is false but it has to be false in any life-form that relies upon an epigenetic (‘recipe’) rather than a preformationistic (‘blueprint’) kind of embryology, and this includes all life-forms that we have studied. Third, even if the assumptions of the Lamarckian theory were true, the theory is in principle, for two quite separate reasons, incapable of explaining the evolution of serious adaptive complexity, not just on this earth but anywhere in the universe. So, it isn’t that Lamarckism is a rival to the Darwinian theory that happens to be wrong.


pages: 405 words: 117,219

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

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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

This is perhaps one of the reasons why quantum physics is often evoked in order to explain consciousness. There is a false logic at play stating that since quantum physics is a mystery and consciousness is a mystery, consciousness must have something to do with quantum physics. The relationship between the subjective and the objective in science is a lot more nuanced than that, as it will be examined later in the book. 13Recent developments in epigenetics show that the genome, i.e. the way the base pairs are sequenced along the DNA molecule, is one of many factors that define hereditary characteristics. The environment seems to play a more important, and direct, role than previously thought. 14Sets of base-pairs sequenced in a certain order that can pass hereditary characteristics (e.g. the production of a certain protein that builds an organ in an organism) are called ‘genes’.

M. (1936), ‘On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem’, Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, 2 (1937), 42, pp. 230–65. 9To be more accurate, Gödel encoded metamathematical statements within ordinary arithmetic. 10The incomplete manuscript and notes based on a series of lectures given by von Neumann at the University of Illinois in 1949 was assembled and edited by Arthur Burks and published ten years after von Neumann’s death. 11New findings in epigenetics show that the mechanism of passing hereditary features to future generations is more complex than previously thought, and probably involves other systems in the cell beyond DNA replication. 12The human mind may be beyond logical coding (as Gödel has indirectly showed) but it is not beyond computation. As we shall see, the deep connection between computation and life is the key to artificial life and artificial intelligence. 13Hayles, N.


pages: 179 words: 43,441

The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, collaborative consumption, commoditize, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, global value chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, life extension, Lyft, mass immigration, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Narrative Science, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, personalized medicine, precariat, precision agriculture, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, reshoring, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, software as a service, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, supercomputer in your pocket, The Future of Employment, The Spirit Level, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator, Zipcar

They will, however, require the vital support of a fourth form of intelligence – the physical one, which involves supporting and nourishing personal health and well-being. This is critical because as the pace of change accelerates, as complexity increases, and as the number of players involved in our decision-making processes increases, the need to keep fit and remain calm under pressure becomes all the more essential. Epigenetics, a field of biology that has flourished in recent years, is the process through which the environment modifies the expression of our genes. It shows incontrovertibly the critical importance of sleep, nutrition and exercise in our lives. Regular exercise, for example, has a positive impact on the way we think and feel. It directly affects our performance at work and ultimately, our ability to succeed.


pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace

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3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E, zero-sum game

They will cut out millions of time-consuming and expensive visits to doctors, and enable us to tilt sick-care towards healthcare. The other revolution is the ability to anticipate and forestall medical problems by analysing our genomes. The Human Genome Project was completed back in 2003, but it soon turned out that although sequencing our DNA was an essential first step to enabling the practical improvements to healthcare we hoped for, it was not enough. We needed to understand epigenetics too: the changes in our cells that are caused by factors above and beyond our DNA sequence. The application of AI algorithms to the data which scientists are generating about gene expression are now bringing those improvements within reach. There is almost no aspect of life today which is not being improved by artificial intelligence. It is important to bear that in mind as we look at the potential downsides of this enormously powerful technology, and avoid a backlash which could prevent us benefiting from those improvements.


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, en.wikipedia.org, 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

With sufficiently large sample sizes, scientists are gaining a clearer understanding of how our genes affect our health, and will soon have insights into how the environment, the food we eat, and the medicines we take affect the complex interplay between our genes and our bodies. The first part of the equation, the core role of our genomes in how we function, is already on the way to becoming comprehensible. There remains a secondary layer of genetics, of perhaps even greater effect: so-called epigenetics. This is the study of how gene function is affected by interaction with the human body, the environment, and other stimuli. Even further out on the edge, early efforts are under way to decode the bacterial biomes of our guts and to understand how the bacteria inhabiting the intestines of thin people and of fat people differ. Other technologies too will help deliver insights into how we function.


pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison

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23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

., “A Natural Product Telomerase Activator as Part of a Health Maintenance Program,” Rejuvenation Research, September 7, 2010, www.liebertonline.com/doi/full/10.1089/rej.2010.1085. 78 Chris Woolston, “Pricey Telomerase Supplements, Touted as Longevity Boosters, Are Unproven,” Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2010, www.latimes.com/health/la-he-skeptic-telomeres-20101220,0,6925196,print.story. 79 See www.tasciences.com/ta-65/. 80 “Genome Announcement a Milestone, but Only a Beginning,” CNN, June 26, 2000, http://archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/06/26/human.genome.05/index.html. 81 Epigenetics is one of these new discoveries. See Brandon Keim, “Early Reports from the ‘Dark Matter’ of the Genome,” Wired News, December 22, 2010, www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/genomic-dark-matter/. 82 John Lauerman, “Complete Genomics Drives Down Cost of Genome Sequence to $5,000,” Bloomberg News, February 5, 2009, www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&refer=home&sid=aEUlnq6ltPpQ. 83 “Your Genome in Minutes: New Technology Could Slash Sequencing Time,” ScienceDaily, December 31, 2010, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220121111.htm. 84 Francis Collins, “A Genome Story: 10th Anniversary Commentary,” Scientific American, June 25, 2010, www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?


pages: 208 words: 67,582

What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society by Paul Verhaeghe

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Berlin Wall, call centre, cognitive dissonance, deskilling, epigenetics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, invisible hand, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Louis Pasteur, market fundamentalism, Milgram experiment, new economy, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, The Spirit Level, ultimatum game, working poor

I shall come back to this later, when I discuss the modern myth of the perfectible individual, with the crushing responsibility that this implies. So ‘we are our brains’ doesn’t entirely exclude external influence, but what about our genes? Our environment can’t change them, except on an evolutionary timescale, which takes centuries at the very least. Here, too, the scientific picture is much more nuanced than people tend to think. External factors can, for instance, affect gene expression — a field known as epigenetics. Moreover, the link between genes and behaviour is extremely complex, though you’d never guess this from the newspapers. Hardly a day goes by without a jubilant announcement suggesting a direct connection between genes and traits or conditions (‘Gene for autism finally discovered!’). One gene gives you brown eyes; another, blonde hair; and yet another, schizophrenia — they are a hand of cards that determine your luck.


pages: 746 words: 221,583

The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge

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combinatorial explosion, epigenetics, indoor plumbing, megacity, random walk, risk tolerance, technological singularity, the scientific method, Vernor Vinge

That sacrifice is the relatively low priority that we’re putting on biomedical products.” That seemed to get everyone’s attention. Even the packs perked up heads here and there. Start with the bad news, build up to the good—but it was taking so long to get there! Okay, she was almost to her ideas for repairing more of the coldsleep caskets and creating an emergency medical committee. “For now we can treat only minor injuries. We have only basic epigenetic triggers. Ultimately, all that will change. In the meantime, how are we to deal with ageing? It’s what our ancestors accepted for thousands of years…” Ravna never got to the “but.” “We are not your fucking ancestors!” It was Jefri Olsndot. He was halfway back in the crowd; she hadn’t seen him before this moment. But now he was on his feet, enraged. Jefri? Amdi was clustered all round him, his heads extended in an expression Ravna could not parse.

Newcastle town itself could never have grown as it had without the livestock herds that were now possible. But Nevil wanted a more direct payoff, some new and tasty food for humans. That was tricky, since Oobii didn’t have the computational power to avoid ecological disasters with modified plants that were fully human-compatible. In the end, Ravna made a minor tweak in natural hardicore grass—well within natural selection bounds—and then enabled another of the epigenetic triggers that most humans had carried since their earliest stargoing civilizations. The Children who used the trigger would be able to eat and enjoy the new hardicore grass. The combination mod should be safe for both humans and Tines World, though Ravna wouldn’t have done it she had still been in charge: every new human compatibility carried a small risk of making the user more susceptible to local diseases.


pages: 286 words: 90,530

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

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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

Furthermore, they remind us of the three types of question raised by the Darwinian evolutionary mechanism. What are the developmental and other processes that generate variation in the characteristics of organisms? What are the agents of differential survival and differential reproductive success? What are the necessary conditions for recreating successful characteristics in the next generation? Simplicity and Complexity Richard recently had a go at me when he discussed the abuse of the term epigenetics which, he claimed, ‘has become associated with obscurantism among biologists’. This is followed by a reference to a footnote which reads: ‘I am reminded of a satirical version of Occam’s Razor, which my group of Oxford graduates mischievously attributed to a rival establishment: “Never be satisfied with a simple explanation if a more complex one is available.” And that reminds me to say that Laland [one of the commentators in the Biology and Philosophy issue devoted to The Extended Phenotype] has missed the irony in my apparent espousal of Bateson’s “Great Nexus of complex causal factors interacting in development”.’8 The mischievous attribution directed at me actually came from me.


pages: 372 words: 101,174

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

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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, en.wikipedia.org, 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

This contention that every structure and neural circuit in the brain is unique and there by design is simply impossible, for it would mean that the blueprint of the brain would require hundreds of trillions of bytes of information. The brain’s structural plan (like that of the rest of the body) is contained in the genome, and the brain itself cannot contain more design information than the genome. Note that epigenetic information (such as the peptides controlling gene expression) does not appreciably add to the amount of information in the genome. Experience and learning do add significantly to the amount of information contained in the brain, but the same can be said of AI systems like Watson. I show in The Singularity Is Near that, after lossless compression (due to massive redundancy in the genome), the amount of design information in the genome is about 50 million bytes, roughly half of which (that is, about 25 million bytes) pertains to the brain.7 That’s not simple, but it is a level of complexity we can deal with and represents less complexity than many software systems in the modern world.


pages: 311 words: 94,732

The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross

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3D printing, Ayatollah Khomeini, butterfly effect, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, Drosophila, epigenetics, Extropian, gravity well, greed is good, haute couture, hive mind, margin call, negative equity, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, telepresence, Turing machine, Turing test, union organizing

One of them pops free of the ghostly multidimensional diagram. Suggested by his earlier encounter with Sam and Doc, she turns out to be incredibly well-documented for a second-rate Communist-era Russian philosopher: video, audio, tracts, and treatises. No tissue samples survive, but enough relatives have been exhaustively sequenced to make her core genome reasonably accessible, and from her visuals, it’s possible to get a handle on some of the epigenetic modulation. Huw tweaks, and there are three people in the room—one of them an elderly female ghost. She coughs unproductively, then looks surprised. “Where am I? What is—?” Her eyes widen farther. David is staring out the window, where a couple of armies in Napoleonic-era drag are duking it out with AK-47s upon a darkling plain. Huw, for his part, is still feverishly paging through a user manual as impenetrable and thick as the U.S. tax code.


pages: 416 words: 106,582

This Will Make You Smarter: 150 New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking by John Brockman

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23andMe, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, biofilm, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, data acquisition, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, hive mind, impulse control, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, market design, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Carr, open economy, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, placebo effect, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, Satyajit Das, Schrödinger's Cat, security theater, selection bias, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Catalog, zero-sum game

It should impress us today that his analysis (SHA) begins with a description (SHA) of four mistakes we run into when we do science. Unfortunately, we usually forget these warnings. Francis Bacon argued that we are, first, victims of evolution (SHA)—that is, that our genes (SHA) define constraints that necessarily limit insight (SHA). Second, we suffer from the constraints of imprinting (SHA); the culture (SHA) we live in provides a frame for epigenetic programs (SHA) that ultimately define the structure (SHA) of neuronal processing (SHA). Third, we are corrupted by language (SHA), because thoughts (SHA) cannot be easily transformed into verbal expressions. Fourth, we are guided, or even controlled, by theories (SHA), be they explicit or implicit. What are the implications for a cognitive toolkit? We are caught, for instance, in a language trap.


pages: 293 words: 88,490

The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction by Richard Bookstaber

asset allocation, bank run, bitcoin, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, dark matter, disintermediation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, epigenetics, feminist movement, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Henri Poincaré, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market clearing, market microstructure, money market fund, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk/return, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sovereign wealth fund, the map is not the territory, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing machine, Turing test, yield curve

Yet, as discussed by Gerd Gigerenzer and Henry Brighton (2009), when survival is at stake in a world that is not ergodic (when, so to speak, the target might move or a new target might become more critical), ignoring information that would correct the bias in the current worldview will make sense if in doing so the overall variance is reduced. 7. Our capitalist system is with the blackworms and whiptails—it is asexual. We go with winners and prune away anything inefficient in the current environment. I will not treat this point further, but it is another route we could take in thinking about why we end up in so many crises. 8. A technical point while I’m on the topic: the mechanism by which genes are expressed is known as epigenetics, a system of molecular processes that tell specific genes when to turn on or off. The reason we humans can share so many genes with other species is that, although the genes might be the same, the sequences making up switches, and thus the nature of the genes’ interaction, have evolved to be different. Small changes in switches can produce very different patterns of genes turning on and off during development.


pages: 329 words: 88,954

Emergence by Steven Johnson

A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, edge city, epigenetics, game design, garden city movement, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Murano, Venice glass, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, pez dispenser, phenotype, Potemkin village, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, slashdot, Socratic dialogue, stakhanovite, Steven Pinker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush

There is no indication that a cell’s exact position in this collective is critical, but its fate can be determined by how many cells of similar history are located close by. A cell’s fate thus depends upon its competence and upon its neighborhood.” Edelman, 1988, 22. Since every cell: Ridley, 175. The words seem: Many brain researchers also draw upon the language of neighborhoods to describe how the brain develops. “Imagine now this epigenetic drama in which sheets of nerve cells in the developing brain form a neighborhood. Neighbors in that neighborhood exchange signals as they are linked by CAMs and CIMs. They send processes out in a profuse fashion, sometimes bunched together in bundles called fascicles. When they reach other neighborhoods and sheets they stimulate target cells.” Edelman, 1992, 64. Because each cell: Twenty years before Wright released SimCity, Thomas Schelling sketched out its basic principles in a decidedly low-tech game-theory experiment: “Get a roll of pennies, a roll of dimes, a ruled sheet of paper divided into one-inch squares, preferably at least the size of a checkerboard (sixty-four squares in eight rows and eight columns) and find some device for selecting squares at random.


pages: 443 words: 131,268

Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson

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

Certainly the structure of feeling had changed; that was culturally determined; and thus the brain must necessarily have changed too. A century later their brains depended on great dollops of mediated stimulation, quick-cut inputs which had not even existed for earlier generations. So that reliance on inner resources was harder. Patience was harder. They were different animals than the people in this photo. The epigenetic interplay of DNA and culture was now changing people so fast that even a century was enough to make a measurable difference. Accelerated evolution. Or one of the punctuations in the long tale of punctuated evolution. And Mars would be more of the same. There was no telling what they would become. Back to Lake Vanda, and the old huts quickly became like a dream interrupting the only reality, a reality so cold that space-time itself seemed to have frozen, leaving all of them living the same hour over and over.


pages: 303 words: 67,891

Advances in Artificial General Intelligence: Concepts, Architectures and Algorithms: Proceedings of the Agi Workshop 2006 by Ben Goertzel, Pei Wang

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AI winter, artificial general intelligence, bioinformatics, brain emulation, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, epigenetics, friendly AI, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, John Conway, Loebner Prize, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Occam's razor, p-value, pattern recognition, performance metric, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, semantic web, statistical model, strong AI, theory of mind, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Y2K

In Architectures for Modeling Emotion: Cross-Disciplinary Foundations, AAAI 2004 Spring Symposium Series, vol. Technical Report SS-04-02. Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA: American Association for Artificial Intelligence; March 22–24, 2004. [71] Franklin, S., and U. Ramamurthy. 2006. Motivations, Values and Emotions: 3 sides of the same coin. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Workshop on Epigenetic Robotics, vol. 128. Paris, France: Lund University Cognitive Studies. Advances in Artificial General Intelligence: Concepts, Architectures and Algorithms B. Goertzel and P. Wang (Eds.) IOS Press, 2007 © 2007 The authors and IOS Press. All rights reserved. 55 A Working Hypothesis for General Intelligence Eric Baum Baum Research Enterprises ebaum@fastmail.fm http://whatisthought.com Abstract.


pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, functional fixedness, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

The mind is never more than a placeholder for things we don’t understand about how we think. The more we use the solitary term mind to refer to human thinking, the more we underscore our lack of understanding. At least this is an emerging view of many researchers in fields as varied as neuroanthropology, emotions research, embodied cognition, radical embodied cognition, dual-inheritance theory, epigenetics, neurophilosophy, and the theory of culture. For example, in the laboratory of Professor Martin Fischer at the University of Potsdam, interesting research is being done on the connection of the body and mathematical reasoning. Stephen Levinson’s group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen has shown how culture can affect navigational abilities, a vital cognition function of most species.


pages: 494 words: 116,739

Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama

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active measures, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blood diamonds, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, global village, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, liberation theology, libertarian paternalism, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, Nicholas Carr, North Sea oil, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Powell Memorandum, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, Y2K

Economist James Heckman’s (2012) usage of the phrase “noncognitive traits” also overlaps considerably with the idea of judgment and self-control, but his definition lacks the element of intention. 17.Intrinsic growth is internal to, and under the partial control of, the person or the society. Heart, mind, and will are neither external advantages nor purely inborn talents, even though circumstances, genetics, and maybe even epigenetics can play a part in forming them. How healthy you are depends on your genes and the larger environment, neither of which you can personally control. Yet, you do have within your control the ability to gain the intention to have good health, the discernment to choose nutritious foods, and the self-control to go for a daily walk. 18.Oppenheimer (2003) and Toyama (2011) both have strong things to say about television’s poor performance in education.


pages: 401 words: 119,488

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

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Air France Flight 447, Asperger Syndrome, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, digital map, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, hiring and firing, index card, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, statistical model, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, theory of mind, Toyota Production System, William Langewiesche, Yom Kippur War

., “With Age Comes Wisdom: Decision Making in Younger and Older Adults,” Psychological Science 22, no. 11 (2011): 1375–80; Pat Croskerry, “Cognitive Forcing Strategies in Clinical Decisionmaking,” Annals of Emergency Medicine 41, no. 1 (2003): 110–20; Brian J. Reiser, “Scaffolding Complex Learning: The Mechanisms of Structuring and Problematizing Student Work,” The Journal of the Learning Sciences 13, no. 3 (2004): 273–304; Robert Clowes and Anthony F. Morse, “Scaffolding Cognition with Words,” in Proceedings of the Fifth International Workshop on Epigenetic Robotics: Modeling Cognitive Development in Robotic Systems (Lund, Sweden: Lund University Cognitive Studies, 2005), 101–5. make a choice For more on disfluency, please see Adam L. Alter, “The Benefits of Cognitive Disfluency,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 22, no. 6 (2013): 437–42; Adam L. Alter et al., “Overcoming Intuition: Metacognitive Difficulty Activates Analytic Reasoning,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 136, no. 4 (2007): 569; Adam L.


pages: 437 words: 113,173

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

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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, en.wikipedia.org, 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

At least some of that “junk,” it’s now known, stores different instructions: not to make proteins, but to more finely regulate the proteins already being printed. What makes humans so much more complex than fruit flies is only partly that our DNA prints more proteins, but mostly that our bodies manipulate those proteins with far more sophistication. Research has also discovered that some inherited traits aren’t coded in our DNA at all. “Epigenetics” is the name of this field of study, so new that scientists only agreed upon its definition in 2008. Most profoundly, science is now asking us to give up the idea that DNA is a blueprint at all. It is, rather, a warehouse—full of useful ideas that nature has been accumulating since life began. Yes, out of DNA come proteins, which in turn make cells, which in turn make tissues, which in turn make organs and from there, an organism.


pages: 505 words: 127,542

If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? by Raj Raghunathan

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Broken windows theory, business process, cognitive dissonance, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, fundamental attribution error, job satisfaction, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, Phillip Zimbardo, placebo effect, science of happiness, Skype, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thorstein Veblen, Tony Hsieh, working poor, zero-sum game, Zipcar

In one of their best-known experiments: For a description of this and other experiments, see Harlow, “The Nature of Love.” Findings proved Harlow right: See figure 5 (on p. 676) in ibid., which summarizes the results. In follow-up experiments: These experiments are described in Blum, Love at Goon Park; see also H. F. Harlow, “Love in Infant Monkeys,” Scientific American 200(6) (1959): 68–74. monkeys’ capacity for love and nurturance: For similar findings on rats, see T. Y. Zhang and M. J. Meaney, “Epigenetics and the Environmental Regulation of the Genome and Its Function,” Annual Review of Psychology 61 (2010): 439–66. These researchers found that rat pups that had been licked and groomed by their mothers (or mother figures) grew up into psychologically healthier adults. René Spitz was one of the pioneers: R. A. Spitz, The First Year of Life: A Psychoanalytic Study of Normal and Deviant Development of Object Relations (New York: International Universities Press, 1965).


pages: 410 words: 114,005

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

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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

In the next section, we will look at how to learn in situations such as these. *Some refused the interview request, others did not respond. One of the signatories had died during the intervening period. *Interviews by the author with twelve economists, three academic and nine working for financial institutions. *An element of Lamarckism has resurfaced in recent years due to advances in epigenetics, which refers to changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. But this should not be held up as evidence that Lysenko was, in some curious way, right. After all, the phenomenon is being debated via testing and data rather than threats and intimidation. And it certainly doesn’t imply that it is legitimate to base science on ideology rather than evidence.


pages: 384 words: 118,572

The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for It Every Time by Maria Konnikova

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attribution theory, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, epigenetics, hindsight bias, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, publish or perish, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, side project, Skype, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, tulip mania, Walter Mischel

Today, Fallon believes that the genetics are there, true, but that certain critical periods in your childhood can nudge you more or less toward full-blown clinical psychopathy, so you exhibit some signs, for instance, but not the whole arsenal. Luck out, you become a high-functioning psychopath, like Fallon, and, perhaps, some of the con artists in this book. Get the bad draw, you become a violent psychopath, like the ones who fill up jails and sit on death row. Apart from the period in utero, a time that we now know is crucial for the development of your genome’s epigenetic markers—that is, the methylation patterns that will determine how, precisely, your genes will be expressed—Fallon believes that the first three years of life play a crucial role in determining your psychopathic future. In that period, a child naturally develops so-called complex adaptive behaviors, like the ability to deal with fear, to smile, to react to those around her. But sometimes that process is interrupted, usually by something particularly stressful.


pages: 406 words: 115,719

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

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Albert Einstein, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, epigenetics, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, the new new thing, the scientific method, Works Progress Administration

Despite their faith in the notion that obesity causes or accelerates diabetes and that therefore (in what I will argue is a mistaken assumption) both are diseases of overconsumption and sedentary behavior, they will also defend their failure to curb the ongoing epidemics of these diseases on the basis that these are “multifactorial, complex disorders” or “multidimensional diseases.” By this they mean that so many factors are involved in the genesis and progression of these diseases—including genetics for sure, epigenetics (the modification of how genes are turned on and off in cells), how much we eat and exercise, perhaps how well we sleep, toxins in the environment, pharmaceuticals, possibly viruses, the effect of antibiotic use on the bacteria in our guts (dysbiosis, as it’s now commonly called, or microbial imbalance)—that to identify one ultimate trigger, or one critical component of our modern diets, is to be naïve.


pages: 331 words: 60,536

The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State by James Dale Davidson, Rees Mogg

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, borderless world, British Empire, California gold rush, clean water, colonial rule, Columbine, compound rate of return, creative destruction, Danny Hillis, debt deflation, ending welfare as we know it, epigenetics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Gilder, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, Kevin Kelly, market clearing, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, Parkinson's law, pattern recognition, phenotype, price mechanism, profit maximization, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, school vouchers, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, spice trade, statistical model, telepresence, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Turing machine, union organizing, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto

Epigenesis We see this "as if" behavior as a prime example of "epigenesis," or the tendency of genetically influenced motivational factors to innately bias humans to favor certain choices over others. In other words, the human mind is not a tabula rasa, or blank slate, but a hard drive with prewired circuits that make certain responses more readily learned and attractive than others. Thus the proposition that the mind is disposed to think in terms of an out-group that excites enmity or hostility and an in-group to which one feels great amity or loyalty usually reserved for kin.60 This epigenetic tendency to behave with an in-group as if it comprised close relatives creates a vulnerability to manipulation that has commonly been exploited by nationalists to engender sacrificial support for the state. In that sense, it is not a 220 coincidence that nationalist propaganda everywhere is dressed up in the vocabulary of kinship. "By the voice of her cannon alarming, fair France bids her children arise.

Wireless by Stross, Charles

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anthropic principle, back-to-the-land, Benoit Mandelbrot, Buckminster Fuller, Cepheid variable, cognitive dissonance, colonial exploitation, cosmic microwave background, epigenetics, finite state, Georg Cantor, gravity well, hive mind, jitney, Khyber Pass, lifelogging, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, peak oil, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, security theater, sensible shoes, Turing machine

New recruits were expected to practice the formalities diligently, for a mastery of Urem was important to their future—and none of them were native speakers. “I speak to you today of the structure of human history and the ways in which we may interact with it.” Yarrow, the Honorable Scholar, was of indeterminate age: robed in black, her hair a stubble-short golden halo, she could have been anywhere from thirty to three hundred. Given the epigenetic overhaul the Stasis provided for their own, the latter was likelier—but not three thousand. Attrition in the line of duty took its toll over the centuries. Yarrow’s gaze, when it fell on Pierce, was clear, her eyes the same blue as the distant horizon. This was the first time she had lectured Pierce’s class—not surprising, for the college had many tutors, and the path to graduation was long enough to tax the most disciplined.


pages: 540 words: 168,921

The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby

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1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Firefox, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, Parag Khanna, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

All cultures are natural in that they draw upon inherent human qualities and there are many potentialities planted in the human breast. Not all human qualities are called into play in every culture. Culture is a selecting mechanism, choosing among the diverse human skills and propensities to fashion a way for people to live together in a specific location at a certain time. A growing field in biology, epigenetics, studies how particular environments activate certain genes in human beings that can then be passed on to their progeny. Without the environmental trigger, the gene remains inert. This suggests that there is a very intricate interchange between our biology and our culture, one that goes well beyond the familiar nature-nurture relationship. All people may be self-interested, but what interests them depends a lot upon the society in which they have been reared.


pages: 651 words: 180,162

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Air France Flight 447, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discrete time, double entry bookkeeping, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, financial independence, Flash crash, Gary Taubes, George Santayana, Gini coefficient, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, informal economy, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, money market fund, moral hazard, mouse model, Myron Scholes, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, selection bias, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, The Great Moderation, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, Yogi Berra, Zipf's Law

Journals of Gerontology: Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 57(3): B109. Czerlinski, J., G. Gigerenzer, et al., 1999, “How Good Are Simple Heuristics?” Dahl, Robert A., and Edward R. Tufte, 1973, Size and Democracy. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Danchin, A., P. M. Binder, et al., 2011, “Antifragility and Tinkering in Biology (and in Business) Flexibility Provides an Efficient Epigenetic Way to Manage Risk.” Genes 2(4): 998–1016. Darnton, Robert, 2010, The Devil in the Holy Water, or The Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon. University of Pennsylvania Press. Daston, Lorraine, 1988, Classical Probability in the Enlightenment. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Davidson, P., 2010, “Black Swans and Knight’s Epistemological Uncertainty: Are These Concepts Also Underlying Behavioral and Post-Walrasian Theory?”


pages: 685 words: 203,949

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin

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airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anton Chekhov, Bayesian statistics, big-box store, business process, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Eratosthenes, Exxon Valdez, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, impulse control, index card, indoor plumbing, information retrieval, invention of writing, iterative process, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, pre–internet, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Turing test, ultimatum game, zero-sum game

The data were obtained by looking retrospectively at people who die from lung cancer and tracking back to see whether or not they were smokers and how much they smoked. The correlation is not perfect: Not every smoker dies of lung cancer and not everyone who dies of lung cancer was a smoker. Some smokers live long lives and die of other things—there are many people who continue to smoke into their eighties and nineties. Some lung cancers appear in nonsmokers, and could be based on genetic or epigenetic factors, exposure to radiation, or other factors. But the correlation between smoking and lung cancer is strong—90% of lung cancers occur among smokers—and scientists have identified a plausible underlying mechanism: toxic chemicals within the smoke-damaged lung tissue. No one has proven that smoking causes lung cancer with a controlled experiment, but we infer causation. It’s important to know the difference.


pages: 786 words: 195,810

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

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Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, assortative mating, crowdsourcing, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Larry Wall, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mother of all demos, neurotypical, New Journalism, pattern recognition, placebo effect, scientific mainstream, side project, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

The organization’s vice president of scientific affairs, Andy Shih, promised that the project would generate “a transformative level of information.” By the end of the decade, it was clear that the scientists had done just what they had been paid to do. Molecular biologists had identified more than a thousand candidate genes and hundreds of de novo mutations associated with autism. They had also come to a greater understanding of epigenetics, the science of factors that mediate interactions between genes and the environment. The list of suspected environmental triggers for autism seemed to grow longer every day, encompassing dozens of chemicals in common use, prompting Forbes science writer Emily Willingham, the mother of an autistic son, to write a blog post with the headline, “This Just In . . . Being Alive Linked to Autism.” Yet for families like Willingham’s, the long-promised transformative moment that would improve the quality of their children’s lives somehow never arrived.


pages: 901 words: 234,905

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Defenestration of Prague, desegregation, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Hobbesian trap, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, long peace, meta analysis, meta-analysis, More Guns, Less Crime, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norman Mailer, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Potemkin village, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Bork, Rodney Brooks, Saturday Night Live, speech recognition, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the new new thing, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, ultimatum game, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

The evolution of moral behaviors. In C. Crawford & D. L. Krebs (Eds.), Handbook of evolutionary psychology: Ideas, issues, and applications. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum. Krech, S. 1994. Genocide in tribal society. Nature, 371, 14–15. Krech, S. 1999. The ecological Indian: Myth and history. New York: Norton. Krubitzer, L., & Huffman, K. J. 2000. A realization of the neocortex in mammals: Genetic and epi-genetic contributions to the phenotype. Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, 55, 322–335. Krueger, R. F., Hicks, B. M., & McGue, M. 2001. Altruism and antisocial behavior: Independent tendencies, unique personality correlates, distinct etiologies. Psychological Science, 12, 397–402. Kubovy, M. 1981. Concurrent pitch segregation and the theory of indispensable attributes. In M. Kubovy & J. Pomerantz (Eds.), Perceptual organization.


pages: 824 words: 268,880

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

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anthropic principle, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, dark matter, epigenetics, gravity well, James Watt: steam engine, land tenure, new economy, phenotype, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Some of the gardeners, Nanao said, worked according to the precepts of Muso Soseki, others according to other Japanese Zen masters; others still to Fu Hsi, the legendary inventor of the Chinese system of geomancy called-feng shui; others to Persian gardening gurus, including Omar Khayyam; or to Leopold or Jackson, or other early American ecologists, like the nearly forgotten biologist Oskar Schnelling; and so on. These were influences only, Tariki added. As they did the work, they developed visions of their own. They followed the inclination of the land, as they saw that some plants prospered, and others died. Coevolution, a kind of epigenetic development. “Nice,” Sax said, looking around. For the adepts, the walk from Sabishii up onto the massif must have been an aesthetic journey, filled with allusions and subtle variants of tradition that were invisible to him. Hiroko would have called it areoformation, or the areophany. “I’d like to visit your soil labs.” “Of course.” They returned to the rover, drove on. Late in the day, under dark threatening clouds, they came to the very top of the massif, which turned out to be a kind of broad undulating moor.


pages: 623 words: 448,848

Food Allergy: Adverse Reactions to Foods and Food Additives by Dean D. Metcalfe

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active measures, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, epigenetics, hygiene hypothesis, impulse control, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, statistical model, stem cell

Food allergy is now considered a public health concern as the condition is associated with significant morbidity and occasional mortality. Although genetic factors are clearly important in the development of food allergy, the increase in food allergy has occurred over a short period of time and is therefore unlikely to be due to germ-line genetic changes alone. It seems plausible therefore that one or more environmental exposures may, through epigenetic changes, result in the interruption of the “default immunological state” of tolerance to foods. Strategies are therefore required for the prevention of food allergy: primary prevention strategies seek to prevent the onset of IgE sensitization, secondary prevention seeks to interrupt the development of food allergy in IgE-sensitized children, and tertiary prevention seeks to reduce the expression of “end-organ” allergic disease in children with established food allergy.