Enjoy a Grab Bag of Interesting Articles and Notes Found Around the Internet. Trick or Treat!
Every so often in this space, we round up short, interesting articles to share. Today is such a day. This collection deals with science, medicine, society, and a dash of humor. There are links provided for each article mentioned.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.
Just When You Thought You Had Heard All the Amazing Things About Nature
A wonderful article in the Atlantic details how spiders can fly hundreds of miles using electricity. Yeah, you read that right – flying spiders. No wings involved; they use the earth’s magnetic and electrical fields. The thought was that spider flight happended by catching the wind with spider web sails. But that could not explain how spiders have been found, as the article notes, over 2.5 miles in altitude and over 1,000 miles out to sea. It’s a fascinating story. Read on.
CRISPR with an Edge. How Would You Like That Genome Sliced?
We have visited the marvel of CRISPR technology before in this space, but we have big news to share. A team from MIT and Harvard has combined two CRISPR technologies into a new combined system. The precision and capabilities that result are stunning. They have dubbed the new system Prime Editing. The system can edit human cells with a level of precision previously unthinkable.
What might that mean? If it proves out, this could address 90% of diseases caused by genetic abnormalities. It would be the end of afflictions like Tay Sacs and Sickle Cell Anemia. Much of depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, and autism could also be defeated. Think of that -90% of such diseases GONE. The inventors have made the information freely available to speed up development.
The article can get a bit technical but it’s worth the modest effort to read it. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/10/new-crispr-genome-editing-system-can-target-disease-causing-genetic-variations/
I Will See Your CBD Oil and Raise You a Hallucinogen
I ran across an interesting article recently about a growing number of people trying a product long used in South and Central America to deal with a range of issues, mostly mental and emotional. Ayahuasca is getting quite the reputation. What made this story fascinating is that legions of senior citizens are taking that trip. There have been careful discussions recently about the potential benefits of micro-dosing hallucinogens. This product seems to have accelerated the discussion. A great line from the article:
“Psychedelics might be wasted on the young. It’s not that young people don’t have valuable experiences, they do. It’s that what psychedelics seem to be particularly good for is jogging us out of our grooves of habit and allowing us to acquire a fresh perspective on familiar things. And as you get older, you get mired in habits.”
Who knows where all this may lead, but its an interesting, out-of-the box article. See what you think.
We joined the global discussion on the future of capitalism a few weeks ago. Few questions may prove to be as important as this one. Letting capitalism continue on the path it is on today is a doomed course. Junking it for the siren song (to the uninitiated) of socialism is no better. We need better options.
The CEO of Salesforce penned a thoughtful article that contributes to this discussion. I like much of what he has to say. We are a long way from figuring out what is needed, but we best get to it – now. Give this article your attention and think about what rings true to you.
Our Closing Article for This Round
The title of this one got my attention. How could one not read something with the following title: It’s Time to Talk About Robot Gender Stereotypes. I thought this might be Sci-Fi or a spoof, but it’s a serious article about the growth of robotics in our lives. We are closer than many think to having intelligent robots integrated into our lives.
How we think about and perceive gender issues could well shape how such robots are developed and used. This one is a bit of a mind bending read, but it left me thinking in some new directions. Try it.
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