Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Evolution of New Human Species: Upward and Outward of [Enriquez'] most revolutionary ideas, which he discuses in the book New Human Species, is the expected evolution of a new hominid species in near future. The homo evolutis, which he said he speculates will be the most adapted hominid, endowed with tremendous mental capabilities, he said, “Twenty thousand species have gone around and become extinct,” Enriquez said. “I believe that we’re going to move into a homo evolutis, and our grandchildren will begin to live it.”

What will set apart this hominid from us, he said, is what he labeled “the ultimate reboot.”

“This hominid could take direct control of his species, this species and other species, and that of course, would be the ultimate reboot,” he said. _globalist
Evolution of Man

Juan Enriquez is an author visionary of life technologies, and a venture capitalist. He founded Harvard Business School's Life Sciences Project, and has worked with Craig Venter on a number of projects. So when Juan Enriquez says that humans are evolving a new species, he is likely to have good reason for saying so.
What does it take to make a new species?

We're beginning to see that it's an accumulation of small changes. Scientists have recently been able to compare the genomes of Neandertals and modern humans, which reveals just a .004 percent difference. Most of those changes lie in genes involved in sperm, testes, smell, and skin.

Engineering microbes alone might speciate us. When you apply sequencing technology to the microbes inhabiting the human body, it turns out to be fascinating. All of us are symbionts; we have 1,000 times more microbial cells in our bodies than human cells. You couldn't possible digest or live without the microbial cells inside your stomach. Some people have microbes that are better at absorbing calories. Diabetics have a slightly sweeter skin, which changes the microbial fauna and makes it harder for them to cauterize wounds

One concern about human enhancement is that only some people will have access, creating an even greater economic divide. Do you think this will be the case?

In the industrial revolution, it took a lifetime to build enough industry to double the wealth of a country. In the knowledge revolution, you can build billion-dollar companies with 20 people very quickly. The implication is that you can double the wealth of a country very quickly. In Korea in 1975, people had one-fifth of the income of Mexicans, and today they have five times more. Even the poorest places can generate wealth quickly. You see this in Bangalore, China. On the flip side, you can also become irrelevant very quickly.

Scientists are on the verge of sequencing 10,000 human genomes. You point out this might highlight significant variation among our species, and that this requires some ethical consideration. Why?

The issue of [genetic variation] is a really uncomfortable question, one that for good reason, we have been avoiding since the 1930s and '40s. A lot of the research behind the eugenics movement came out of elite universities in the U.S. It was disastrously misapplied. But you do have to ask, if there are fundamental differences in species like dogs and horses and birds, is it true that there are no significant differences between humans? We are going to have an answer to that question very quickly. If we do, we need to think through an ethical, moral framework to think about questions that go way beyond science. _TechnologyReview_Juan Enriquez

The video above gives you an idea of how Enriquez expresses his ideas to the public, and reveals some of the things that he thinks about.

His ideas about the evolution of a new human species -- and the great need for humans to face the important genetic differences between different populations of humans -- sets him apart from ivory tower academics, politicians, and media skanks. In his day job, he has to think clearly and make good decisions -- unlike academics, politicians, and journalists, who rarely have to pay for their own mistaken thought processes.

When a venture capitalist makes decisions involving large sums of money, he cannot afford to wallow in political correctness, affirmative action, groupthink, or other modern dysfunctional aberrations of thought. He must be honest with himself and with his backers. In this case, it is likely that Enriquez is being honest with the public, based upon his intimate association with advanced biotechnological projects.

But something that not even Enriquez may be willing to say publicly, is that not all humans population groups will evolve in what is seen as a favourable direction. New genes are evolving and affecting the human brain, but not all population groups are sharing equally in the benefits of these changes.

The evolutionary history of Ashkenazi Jews is a useful, small-scale illustration of what is happening. These Jews of European descent possess the highest average IQ of any distinct population group known. This difference can be seen in terms of accomplishment at the highest levels of science, math, and other areas of scholarship and life achievement. This group has paid a price for this advantage, in terms of inherited disease. But for the group as a whole, the tradeoff appears to have been worth it.

As humans get better at tweaking the genome and epigenome, they should learn better how to acquire more of the advantages of superior adaptation without too many of the disadvantages. Then slowly, but surely, perhaps over dozens, or even hundreds of years, new human species will diverge from older human species.

To many people, this idea of diverging coexisting human species is a new one. To others, not so much. Anyone who has deliberated over the difference between the accomplishments of Australian aboriginals and the descendants of the English transportees to Australia, must have considered the possibility of divergent evolution.

As Enriquez points out, it is critical for humans at this juncture in time to be honest about our broad genetic heritage -- and what this breadth means in terms of aptitudes and behaviours. And what it means for our future selves.

Previously published on Al Fin blog


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bringing Down the Cost of Space Launch w/ Reusable Spacecraft

SpaceX Reusable Rocket (TechnologyReview)

Imagine how much it would cost to fly from San Francisco to London if the airlines had to destroy every airliner after each use. But that is the same basic logic that is used for space launch, where spacecraft typically do not survive the journey, requiring a new craft to be built for each trip. But what if you could re-use all parts of your craft, with rapid turnover between launches. Shouldn't that bring down the cost of space exploration and development?
NASA's space shuttle is the only orbital reusable launch vehicle that's flown to date, and it was retired this summer after falling far short of its original goals to launch frequently and inexpensively—the agency projected it would fly up to 50 missions per year at an operating cost of $10.5 million per flight. It turned out that the shuttles flew less than five times per year at an operating cost 20 times that.

SpaceX's approach is to convert the two stages of the Falcon 9 rocket into independent vehicles capable of making return landings at their launch site. The first stage, after separating from the rest of the rocket, would fire its engines to guide itself back to the launch site, extending a set of legs from its base to land vertically. The upper stage, outfitted with the heat shield that SpaceX developed for its Dragon spacecraft, which was designed to transport cargo and eventually crews to and from the space station, would reenter after deploying its payload in space. It would also use its engine for a powered vertical landing.

Musk is backing up his speech with development work. SpaceX has been quietly building an experimental vehicle called Grasshopper to test the vertical landing technology. Grasshopper is a Falcon 9 first stage outfitted with a single engine and landing legs to allow it to take off and land vertically.

...SpaceX is not the only company actively working on an orbital reusable launch vehicle. Blue Origin, the secretive aerospace company founded by CEO Jeff Bezos, has NASA funding to mature the design of a space vehicle that could be launched on existing expendable rockets, such as the Atlas V. Eventually, though, Blue Origin plans to replace the Atlas with its own reusable orbital launch vehicle, and is using part of the $22 million Commercial Crew Development award it received from NASA earlier this year to work on an engine for that rocket.

"We intend to fly our own Blue Origin reusable launch vehicles that will take [our] space vehicle up and make that system much more affordable," said Rob Meyerson, program manager at Blue Origin, at AIAA Space 2011. The company has not disclosed development schedules or other technical details about its planned vehicle. However, the support the company has from NASA, coupled with the financial backing provided by Bezos, makes the company's effort worth watching.

This is not the first time companies have shown an interest in building reusable launch vehicles. In the late 1990s, several companies, including Kistler Aerospace and Rotary Rocket Company, had ambitious plans for orbital reusable launch vehicles, but their projects never materialized.

What's the difference this time around? Charles Lurio, a space industry consultant and publisher of The Lurio Report newsletter, says current companies have made more progress than earlier firms, including building and flying hardware. "They have a fair shot at making it work," he says, "but nothing's guaranteed." _TechnologyReview
Originally published on Al Fin, the Next Level


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Escaping the Zombie Zone by Air

Zombie Safe House Contest

The above entry in the "Zombie Safe House Contest" presents a way of being above it all, sustainably. The project even utilises zombies as an energy and fuel source.
In the image above, you can see a mass airborne exodus from the zombie zone, enabled by the massive 3,000 passenger nuclear mother-ship. The advantage of the nuclear mothership is its ability to stay airborne for years at a time, acting as a shuttle between zombie-safe zones. Lesser aircraft are able to land on the deck of the mothership, dropping off and picking up passengers to and from safe landing zones.
Here you see a large airship arriving at a safe zone, far from the zombie infested cities. It is ready to discharge freight and passengers, in preparation for another rescue mission to the danger zone.
Here you see a smaller escape vehicle, meant for both personal and family escape. It can also be used as a short and intermediate range scouting craft, to provide advance warning to the safe zones, in case of possible zombie incursions.
Here you see the Eurocopter flying car, currently only available to upper level EU officials, for rapid zombie escape. The EU hopes to be able to make the escape vehicle available to ordinary Europeans before it is too late.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mapping the Human Layer of the Planet

These maps are meant to visualize the "human layer" of the planet: The roads, power lines, pipelines, undersea cables, shipping lanes, air travel lanes, etc. Here's more:
This concept illustrates and groups together the main agents that shape our planet, who literally engrave its surface—it is the anthroposphere, the human layer that grows inside the biosphere. This page is dedicated to the impressionist mapping of the artifacts from this singular moment in Earth's history. Impressionist because these maps are unlabelled and silent, giving free rein to contemplation and imagination; impressionist also because they do not follow the canons of cartography, where scales and legend are mandatory.

By locating the structures and hotspots of human activity, by acknowledging the extent of our footprints and our facilities, perhaps we will glimpse the limits of our world and the importance of redefining what it means to live in and on it. _Globaiavia_inhabitat

Anthropocene Mapping from Globaïa on Vimeo.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is Your Home Secure from Zombies, Collapse, and Natural Disaster?

Practical Tactical: Home Fortress - Episode 102

Aired: August 13, 2010
| Views: 0 | Comment

Go behind the walls of what is considered to be one of the safest houses in the world. S.A.F.E. Founder and President, Al Corbi gives us a look at the safety measures in place in this domestic fortress. Later, join Corbi and his team... (19:00)

We have looked at homes that are fairly secure against zombie attack, and others that are secure against most natural disasters. We have also looked at ways that you can prepare for extended economic collapse, civil disorder, and loss of basic services.

But what we really want is a way to protect against all the likely and somewhat possible occurrences. Here we look at some of the state of the art technology involved in securing a home against intruders, attackers, and natural disasters.

The home featured in the video above is located in the Hollywood Hills, above Los Angeles. Los Angeles tends to erupt periodically in mass occurrences of civil disorder, so installing features such as these is a logical precaution for any homeowner in the LA area.

To make such a home even more secure, one would go underground to provide multiple secure storage areas for food etc., a secure water supply, safe backup power supplies, and escape tunnels when flying out by helicopter is not feasible.

Ideally, you would want to locate a fallback home with similar security features ina more remote location, surrounded by a wide assortment of measures which would make it difficult for a large force to approach your "fortress" in an organised and deliberate manner.

The city home described above is located inside a gated fence -- presumably with a range of anti-vehicular defences incorporated to prevent the approach of a large car bomb.

Notice that the builders incorporated a means of rapid evacuation by air, for when the excrement truly contacts the rotating blades. For your city home, you would want some type of VTOL aircraft to be on site and ready to go any time that you or your family are on site. Particularly if located in a city such as LA, Chicago, London, etc.

Home security doesn't have to cost as much as the home shown above. But it will require a good deal of thought.

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Everybody Talks about Low IQ in Africans, But Nobody Does Anything About It

IQ of Nations (Wikipedia)

By almost any measure imaginable, Subsaharan Africa is the most backward collection of nations on Earth. When taking measures of literacy, productivity, education, rule of law, corruption, crime, poverty, innovation in terms of patents, Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals, health care, quality of life, etc., SS Africa falls at or near the bottom.

IQ testing has consistently placed average population IQs of most Subsaharan African nations well below 80, with only the Australian aboriginal population (and closely related populations) scoring consistently lower. In other words, the actual performance of the SS African nations by almost any measure is perfectly consistent with the average population IQs which are generally obtained via testing.

If SS Africans consistently outperformed their putative population IQ scores, there would be excellent reason to doubt the validity of those scores. In that case, there would be ample justification to perform much more rigorous IQ testing across the nations of SS Africa. But even with the general agreement between national and regional performance and tested IQ scores, any honest scientist would insist that a program of careful and thorough cognitive testing be carried out in the region.

The reason for this is that there are many possible reasons for the low IQ scores in the region, some of which may well be amenable to intervention -- either now or in the foreseeable future. Valid baseline testing is crucial before any broad scale intervention, in order to assess its effectiveness.

Examples of interventions which might conceivably result in increased IQ scores across parts of SS Africa include eradicating or reducing many of the parasitic and infectious diseases in the region, improving general levels of maternal and childhood nutrition, improving early childhood intellectual stimuli and education, providing greater access to books and the internet, reducing local levels of violence and warfare, and so on . . .

Other viable interventions should suggest themselves as we learn more about the nature of intelligence. Two intriguing candidates for improving IQ which are available now include neurofeedback and working memory training.

Why is IQ important?
The results from a series of follow-up studies indicate that the IQ score at age 13 could be viewed as a relatively good indicator for future life outcomes, defined in terms of attained education, occupational status, and material well being. Dramatic differences in this attainment between the groups of respondents with high and low IQ scores attest to this conclusion. Smaller, yet still significant, differences between talented teenagers and their counterparts from the two control groups who apparently did not have the high IQ advantage also support the thesis that IQ matters much for life success. _Source

Intelligence is a life-long trait that exerts powerful influences on educational success, occupational status, use of health services, life style and recreational choices. _ScienceDirect

Specifically, adults with higher intelligence show attenuated cortical thinning and more pronounced cortical thickening over time than do subjects with average or below average IQ. Genes influencing variability in both intelligence and brain plasticity partly drive these associations. Thus, not only does the brain continue to change well into adulthood, these changes are functionally relevant because they are related to intelligence. _J.Neurosci
Relationships between brain volumes and IQ is being solidly established using MRI and DTI studies, and the relationship between cognitive aptitude - brain volume - and genetic complement is likewise being clearly elaborated bit by bit.

A lot of research will be needed to tease apart the portion of cognitive aptitude attributable to particular constellations of genes, from what is due to various factors in the environment. Throughout this very important process, valid and thorough cognitive testing across SS Africa -- and any other regions where interventions are contemplated -- is absolutely necessary.

Morbidity, mortality, life accomplishment and quality of life are all at stake. Leftist academics, politicians, and pundits attempt to cover up the problem, which only creates greater hardship and misery in the future. Much better to clearly define the problem, then discover what can be done about it -- and political correctness be damned.

More: Interesting website with an interesting assortment of articles on IQ

Finally, look over the charts below and consider what kind of society you could put together with a population whose mean IQ is 70, with a standard deviation of 15.

Taken from an earlier posting at Al Fin

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Highly Maneuverable Watertoy for Relaxed Fun


The WaterBuggy is the creation of Turkey-based Bodrum Marine Group, a watersports specialist. It’s part tender, part PWC, capable of carrying three people and operated via a simple joystick. E&E’s WaterBuggy is powered by a 10-hp Honda outboard, concealed within the body of the toy. Bodrum Marine Group also offers 9.8- and 9.9-hp outboards from Tohatsu and Mercury.

Regardless of outboard choice, the WaterBuggy maneuvers smoothly and quickly, and you can even spin it in place. It can run in pretty skinny water, too: as shallow as about three feet (one meter). Novice watertoy enthusiasts and families with small children need not be worried, as the WaterBuggy tops out at just 6 mph (10 kph).

Pricing for the Honda-powered WaterBuggy is 8,000 euros ($10,550 approximately as of this writing); with the Tohatsu engine, 7,500 euros ($9,900 approximately). Both prices are exclusive of tax and transportation.

This video gives you a better sense of what the WaterBuggy is all about. _Megayacht_via_Gizmag

Think of it as a combination of a PWC and a paddle boat, or a kind of floating bumper car. Operated by a couple of buttons to start/stop the boat and a simple joystick enabling right-left-forward commands, the Waterbuggy can float on shallow waters of up to one meter (3.28 ft) in depth. Its turbine system allows a torsion of 360 degrees. _Gizmag

The Waterbuggy will likely be fitted with an electric motor soon, and will serve a similar purpose on the water as the "golf cart" all-purpose electric utility vehicle serves on land. Solar powered Waterbuggies should hit the beach quite soon.


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