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Feb 18, 2020

Farms inside shipping containers could grow more local produce

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI, sustainability

“It’s a 320-square-foot shipping container like you would see on a boat, a train, a truck, outfitted with an automated growing system,” he says, “to grow about 3.5 acres worth of produce with no pesticides, no herbicides, and about 98.5% less water.” Inside the Greenery, plants grow vertically, with their roots in a nutrient solution instead of soil. Sensors, pumps, and LED lights automatically maintain ideal growing conditions, so you don’t have to be an expert to start farming. “You plug it in and you’re growing same day,” McNamara says.


The crops grow vertically under LED lights.

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Feb 18, 2020

10 Reasons to Build The Human Genome From Scratch

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The Human Genome Project launched in 1990 with the goal to read genomes. Now scientists are working to write them.

Feb 18, 2020

Why human gene editing must not be stopped

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, ethics

Gene editing of human embryos — yes or not?


If there is a discernible duty here it is surely to create the best possible child. That is what it is to act for the best, all things considered. This we have moral reasons to do; but they are not necessarily overriding reasons.

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Feb 18, 2020

The Value of Space Exploration

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, solar power, space travel, sustainability

Steven Hawking: “I don’t think we will survive another thousand years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”


Probably the most notable direct result of space exploration is satellites. Once we could position a ship in orbit and take telemetry, we knew we could place unmanned pieces of equipment there and just let it orbit, running on its own, while receiving orders from the ground. From those satellites, we have created a global communication system and the global positioning system (GPS) that powers most of our communications capabilities today. What can bring peace and harmony on the planet more than our ability to communicate with each other beyond geographic and political boundaries? These technologies have been enhancing and saving for years.

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Feb 18, 2020

Gene Editing is Advancing at Breakneck Speed

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

In October 2019, Liu and his colleagues published a paper in Nature, describing an even newer technology, called prime editing. Prime editing can not only make all twelve of the possible base substitutions, it can also make multiple-base insertions or deletions, without requiring a double-strand break. It achieves this with a multi-step operation that first cuts one strand, then performs the appropriate substitution, insertion, or deletion, and then nicks the second strand to allow the bases on the second strand to be replaced by bases that complement the ones substituted, inserted into or deleted from the first strand. The result is a modified stretch of DNA that had never been completely separated. This has the effect of massively reducing the number of off-target modifications.

This new prime editing variant of CRISPR technology, can make the same corrections to the defects that cause sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia that standard CRISPR/Cas9 has now made in human subjects, but with less opportunity for unwanted off-target changes. Furthermore, its possible applicability is much wider. The ClinVar database lists over 75,000 pathogenic mutations in the human genome. Of these, over 89% are potentially correctable by prime editing.

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Feb 18, 2020

Writing Our Genome

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The Human Genome Project is probably the most ambitious scientific proposal ever made.


ii. writing DNA

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Feb 18, 2020

Synthetic genomics – Inside the effort to create entire genomes from scratch

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, policy

How close are we to creating a synthetic human genome?


Creating humans is also an ethical minefield. Unsettled questions about who might own a synthetic human genome abound. Boeke warns that ownership could come down to who ends up funding the project development. Rob Carlson, a co-author of the GP-Write proposal, is even more skeptical of the idea of a patented artificial human genome, pointing out via email that “as soon as there is any possibility of a synthetic genome being used to germinate a live human, then ownership is obviously out of the question anyway…because you are now talking about owning a person.”

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Feb 18, 2020

Hospital director dies in China’s Wuhan, epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

BEIJING: The head of a leading hospital in China’s central city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak, died of the disease on Tuesday (Feb 18), state television said, becoming the second prominent Chinese doctor to have succumbed to the pathogen.

Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, died at 10.30am, it said.

Feb 18, 2020

Meet the unknown female mathematician whose calculations helped discover Pluto

Posted by in categories: computing, space

Astronomers are rediscovering how calculations made by the ‘human computer’ Elizabeth Williams contributed to the first observations of Pluto 90 years ago.

Feb 18, 2020

Robot waitress from Japan serves up smiles in war-torn Afghanistan

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Afghanistan’s first-ever robot waitress glides up to a table of curious diners in central Kabul and presents them with a plate of French fries.

“Thank you very much,” the machine says in Dari, one of Afghanistan’s two main languages.

Restaurant manager Mohammad Rafi Shirzad says the humanoid robot, imported from Japan and designed to look vaguely like a women wearing a hijab, has already pulled in new customers since it started working last month.

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