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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Steam Winter Game Sale StarDew Valley

This one has been on a wish list for a while... sadly we've opted for other games this holiday season, but please enjoy the good fortune of the winter games sale and spread the news. Good games for cheap should spread some holiday cheer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Synthetic DNA is a New Hope for Alien Life on Earth

     So what is XNA (xeno nucleic acid)? DNA and RNA are formed of components known as nucleic acids. XNA is any of the chemical analogues resembling DNA but formed of alternative or unknown nucleic acids. While most XNA is unstable, a form well known to research scientists in the field of synthetic life is known to be stable, this is PNA.
     While PNA isn't prevalent on Earth, it is a more likely candidate for spontaneous generation than DNA. Researchers in Xenobiology believe that it is possible to construct all of the parts of a cell to encode, transcribe, and edit XNA. Some of them believe that this is a threshold for science to offer a more optimized model for life. An artificial life-form. A new, and unknown life-form. This is, essentially, alien life made by the hand of mankind.
      There is a large body of work for xenogenetics, or nucleic acid analogues as they are also called, but there is little reason to believe that XNA-based components can mimic all functions of DNA-based components in cellular life at this point. Certain XNA's are valuable right now as sensor components in DNA research. Adding a florescent compound to XNA that encodes a particular DNA strand can isolate binding sites that match the target DNA.
     XNA also may have value as a chemical encoding of information. DNA computing has been proven to be efficient, and can yield results from complicated information. DNA and RNA break down from biological interference, however. XNA is less vulnerable. Some forms of XNA can encode DNA sequences, or other information long term. Once decoded, a wealth of information can be transmitted at a molecular level.
     Molecular computing with XNA could yield some surprises. If efficient processes were developed to electronically manipulate metal ligand XNA as a nanobot, and then such XNA could interface with normal computers as well, and if the electrical properties were sufficiently predictable to encode signals, and a reliable mechanism was in place to decode them, XNA could be a super-computing material.
     Regardless of what is done with XNA, it will likely create few surprises for our future. I personally look forward to what can be done. Embrace the future, and brace yourself for surprises.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Heart of Complexity

    Emergence is a theory that has very old roots, but is now being more carefully considered. The reasons why it is being reconsidered as a serious subtext to classical physics may have a lot to do with technical progress. Computer systems, and other man-made systems are rapidly gaining complexity.
    Complexity and emergence are considered to be highly related, especially in regards to complex adaptive systems. Given the fact that man-kind has proven to be easily fooled by low-level AI systems, it will be increasingly important to prove the validity of AI research by proving the system to be both adaptable and complex. Neural networks, which are currently the gold standard of AI research, have proven to be both.
     If you were to ask what powers the emergent properties of deep learning , the answer would undoubtedly be neural networks. These neural networks pattern data in way that could be roughly considered to be a form of learning. Pattern recognition is the technical term that is used, because both cognitive research and computing research built around interactions with humans have revealed that humans learn in much more complex ways. Some cognitive researchers suggest that there are many different modes of learning that humans utilize which are individually known as learning styles.
     In physics there is another way that emergence and complexity have served our understanding. Physical particles drive interactions in nature, but there are many natural phenomenon which outstrip the ability of individual particles. Mathematically, however, these phenomenon can be quantized into particle-like "chunks" of energy or information called quasiparticles. These quasiparticles are best understood as a complex emergent property of matter and energy that underlay sound, heat, electrical conduction, and many other important physical interactions.
     Regardless of its application, emergence is the heart of complexity. It is the prize that many scientific and engineering challenges of today are seeking. And it only seems natural that after over a hundred years of reductionist philosophy in science that revelations would come forth that many aspects of nature are more than a sum of their parts.

Quasiparticles and Emergence quasiparticles and emergence

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The End of Everything that We Know

     Apocalyptic prophecies have dominated the human mind for centuries, or even from the beginning of human history. We worry constantly about the end. I will comfort you in the fact that everything you know and have taken for granted as being true is already ending. This is an occurrence that actually happens in every generation of humanity.
   Human knowledge is limited in scope.Generational knowledge will lose its bearing as progress is made. New discoveries not only obsolete current technology, but also our current framework for the world. In other words it is, in fact, the end of the world as you know it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Choosing a focal point.

     Life may seem random at times. Sometimes it actually is. Most of the time, however, the daily events of your life come from previous decisions. We work and rework old decisions until they become tired, exhausted, and miserable. Effective living comes from powerful and focused decisions.
     There are general rules to making decisions that help. No excuses; You cannot make excuses not to make any kind of basic change when you feel stagnation setting in. Appropriate decisions only: You must keep your focus only on changes that will positively affect your life (and those which you wish to include) in both the short and long terms. Weigh your options; Even with a stand out option, there are small changes to consider that make it far more doable and likely to happen. Keep moving forward; The best plans are those with contingencies attached, when the worst happens change course to make the best of it.
    Nobody leads the same life, so I won't tell you what life path to take. Work hard at making what's right for you take hold. Few things happen by themselves, and such things rarely lead to the places that focused effort does.
   Work hard for what you believe in, which should be yourself. When you work for others, make it work for you. This is the key to "engagement". A prize-winning worker is someone who feels a sense of accomplishment, and in so doing shines. Philosophy does count in technical work, as well as life. Strive to be your own hero, and in so doing you will improve the world.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

On The Frontier of Synthetic Life

     Synthetic life. The very notion of life that is born from the efforts of humanity is daunting. Images are provoked of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. This is far from the true efforts in modern times however.
     Today's adventures in synthetic life may be categorized as mundane experiments in chemical robotics. The search for artificial muscles to increase the abilities of limited robotic kindred has opened doors that are unimaginable in materials research. Plastics have been altered to the point where they are interacting with first electrical components, heat, light, but also with DNA. Research at John Hopkins University has opened up a frontier in soft robotics.
     Hydrogels. The secret word that unlocks plastics into the fields of medicine, robotics, and more. Hydrogels are a plastic built around encapsulated water. The conductivity and behavior of hydrogel materials is chemically alterable, or thermally, by light, or by electricity. The nature of hydrogels has branded them as a smart material.
    Behaviorally, hydrogels are similar to biology. Some are even based around protein materials, blurring the lines between body and machine. Soon, every component of the robot can be based in hydrogel: actuators, conductors, sensors, transistors, or even electrical source voltage (similar to battery or capacitor). Many hydrogels are biologically compatible. I believe the next frontier in regenerative medicine will be hydrogels that will be robotic analogies to many organs, and could even be implanted with your own cells.
    One day we will be altogether too happy for a second chance at life that was borrowed from synthetic analogies of life. Hydrogels will be there to bridge the gap between chemicals, robots, and human medicine in the coming decades of medicine. Given enough time, the treatments that we receive as medical patients will become more and more like cybernetic implants. Time will tell where this will take us as a species, but I don't think that we will be looking back woefully. We will benefit immensely from the material improvement in medicine.

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