25 Jan

Science on Track to Make us Gods

I have been seeing a trend for sometime now of humans applying their intelligence for the improvement of other species. You’re probably more than familiar with genetically tweaked fruits, insects, etc. Recently though, it seems to be more and more about us. That’s right! we are trying to improve the human condition by…(drum roll)…improving humans!

Here is my evidence that we are increasingly on the path to change our species:

  1. There is the recent viable embryos created out of a certain CEO’s cells. Creating a human being out of my own cells would allow me to potentially tweak the next generation’s attributes. Instead of having sons and daughters in the traditional sense, we might just create clones of ourselves, only “improved”. For example, say I’ve always wanted a fast metabolism, long life, and healthier teeth. It is only a matter of time (not much time) before I am able to plug- in a few parameters into a computer, and a few computational cycles (and a microwave ding) later obtain a better baby me.
  2. We are getting more and more comfortable messing with genes. In fact, we are making such fast advances that we are now able to not only understand gene functions, but we can add or remove specific genes, and even create entirely artificial genomes. To those of us who remember the old days of the computer world, when you had to make awesome looking games and demos from the ground up using x86 assembly, this is the genetic equivalent of inventing the C language. We are not yet to the point where we can create a modified human embryo with specific physical attributes (I want my clone male, buff, well endowed, and genius smart), but we are getting there in a hurry!
  3. Nature is helping us! Yes evolution is slow. Yes, mutations are almost always bad. Viruses are mostly bad for us. Yet, this 15 year old just changed her blood type and adopted a completely different immune system from a donor organ. It is only a matter of time before we discover and duplicate the processes involved in her “miracle”. When that happens, we will not only be able to receive donor organs (and limbs) from anyone, it may help us understand how to drastically improve the human body. I know a lot of women who would love to trade in some of their body parts for real better body parts. Forget silicone! Think real breast grown from your own cells!
  4. We will all be nearly immortal. Which means we will have more time to play scientists to improve the next generation. In case you haven’t noticed, the somewhat exponential growth in computer performance had all kinds of hardware limitations along the way that we promptly resolved using computers themselves. What I am trying to say here is that as we get smarter and better with each generation, so will our science, and therefore our ability to affect the next generation of humans.

Don’t be alarmed, you are already obsolete. There is no reason to panic. Your kids are already way smarter and more technologically savvy than you’ll ever be. Chalk it up to improved nutrition, or government experiments on the masses. Whatever makes you feel better about yourself. I am personally very excited to see all of this and I just hope I will live long enough to see humans control their environment by thought alone…what? already? I guess we can accomplish anything we imagine. Let’s just hope imagination can keep up.

23 Jan

Casablanca lost a record

The largest pool on earth used to be the Orthlieb pool, right by the beach at what I think is either “Miami plage” or Tropicana beach resorts (I don’t remember, feel free to correct me if I am wrong). Unfortunately, times change and a giant $1 billion pool was just completed elsewhere. The Guinness Book of World Records says it is the world’s largest swimming pool, it measures 1,013 metres in length and covers an area of eight hectares.

From The Daily Mail :

Chilean biochemist Fernando Fischmann, whose Crystal Lagoons Corporation designed the pool, said advanced engineering meant his company could build “an impressive artificial paradise” even in inhospitable areas.

“As long as we have access to unlimited seawater, we can make it work, and it causes no damage to the ocean.”

The old record holder
The Orthlieb in Casablanca

The new pool and record holder

18 Jan

Making my first longbow

Around May 2007, I walked into Archery Only, an archery shop in Newark, CA. I rented some equipment and spent a couple of hours on their shooting range. I was hooked! A couple weeks later, I was the proud owner of a brand new compound bow. Months have passed and I have gradually increased the draw weight on my bow until I reached my target 70 pounds (for those of you not into archery, that means it take 70 pounds of force to pull the string back). My girlfriend has been to the range with me a couple of times and is marginally interested in the sport. She has carpal tunnel problems and needs a light bow (unlike my 4 pound monster compound bow).

This long prelude was simply meant to justify my recent endeavor, I have built her a longbow out of home depot redwood! It works so well, I was almost tempted to keep it as my own and buy her something else…almost…

I haven’t finished sanding it to the proper draw weight or length (each archer can pull the string a certain distance back called draw length). I also plan on making the string for it myself. If anyone is interested in how I did this: simple, I used a hand planner on a long piece of wood from Home Depot until I got a shape roughly resembling the longbows I saw on Google. That’s also where I found dimensions and profile drawings.

I can’t speak to the durability of this bow nor to whether redwood was a good choice yet. I assume that her draw weight of around 40 pounds should not put too much strain on it. We’ll see…