More CRISPR Gene Editing Babies

Nature reported that Russian molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov is planning to perform CRISPR experiments on human embryos. He’s running the experiments on the same CCR5 gene as Chinese scientist He Jiankui in 2018. This is once again raising questions on the ethics of human genetic experimentation.

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Quantum Computing

What is quantum computing and why is it so damn difficult?

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Quantum Mechanics qua Being

Aristotle defined metaphysics as the study of Being qua Being – or, one might say, studying Being being Being. He says in book VII of his Metaphysics that Being is the individual instances of essence, which is the substance that defines what a thing is in-itself. Now, in our present time, we’ve narrowed down the primary substance further than our everyday sensible objects, down to subatomic particles. Can Aristotle’s philosophy be a useful lens to think about quantum mechanics?

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Should Futurists Support War?

Since at least World War 1 the idea of war as being all about glory and heroism has seen massive disillusionment. Most people, I think, would agree that war is not a good thing, even if some think it a necessary thing. But technological arms races, both during war and in peacetime, generate a plethora of technological advances. That raises the question: should futurists and transhumanists welcome war in order to usher in greater and faster technological advances?

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Mesh Networks: Alternatives to the Internet?

Mesh networks figure extensively in my Incarnate series. They’re used by the forty-eights – and others – as a way to run parallel ‘internets’ so as not to be tracked on the original internet. But mesh networks are not all science fiction – they’re actually being used in the real world.

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Augmented Reality: Not Science Fiction

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that features heavily in my Incarnate novel series. This technology isn’t just a science fiction creation, though. Just like in my story, it’s becoming more and more a part of our lives and only promises to become a bigger part in the near future.

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Supermassive Black Hole Image

A collaboration of hundreds of scientists using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) have been able to capture an image of a supermassive black hole in the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy.

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Neuromorphic Computing

Machine learning and deep learning has never been more advanced than it is today, with computing power evolving tremendously and becoming capable of processing information and learn from larger data sets than ever before. An emerging type of computing, known as neuromorphic computing, is making breakthroughs and becoming popular with AI and neuroscience researchers.

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A Primer on Evolution pt 2: Evidence

In part two, I will give a brief overview of the evidence for the theory of evolution. This is not an exhaustive compendium of all the evidence in support of the theory of evolution. It is already a long post, so I keep all my descriptions brief. If you are interested in learning more, I provide plenty of links to websites and peer reviewed papers all throughout.

It’s not absolutely necessary, but it may make more sense why this evidence is convincing if you understand how evolution works. For that, I suggest checking out part 1 of this primer first.

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A Primer on Evolution pt 3: Higher Concepts

What follows are more conceptual aspects of evolution that build on the ideas discussed in the part 1. It’s not absolutely necessary, but I would recommend checking out part 2 first as well. In this conclusion to my three-part primer on evolution, I will discuss things like reproductive isolation, the different ways that evolution occurs, sexual selection, ecology, chaos theory, and evolutionary equilibrium.

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A Primer on Evolution pt 1: Natural Selection

Some people have anywhere from a slight misunderstanding to a complete lack of knowledge on how evolution by natural selection operates. I’m going to do a series on the subject to educate anyone who is confused by or interested in the theory of evolution.

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CRISPR/Cas9 Crash Course

Introduction

I enjoy writing (or, at least, the idea of writing) about a veritable plethora of topics: philosophy, religion, politics, economics, society. However, my education is actually in the sciences – I am a published biochemist. This has made me strive for scientific accuracy, or at least scientific plausibility, in my fiction writing. For science fiction, the CRISPR/Cas9 system of gene editing leads to all sorts of possibilities, some of which I explore in my Incarnate novel series (shameless plug – book 2 coming soon!). In my novel, people use CRISPR/Cas9 to modify their somatic cells in order to give themselves practical biochemical upgrades (ie having one’s fingerprint pattern shift slowly over time so that the person cannot be tracked) to more aesthetic ones (ie giving oneself a series of subdermal bioluminescent vessels that can be lit up at will).

But if one wants to know how to better understand the possibilities and limitations to CRISPR/Cas9 (at least in its current state in August of 2018 – my novel series takes place in the future where some of the practical limitations will hopefully be overcome), it is necessary to understand how it actually works. Here, I am going to lay out in hopefully simple terms (although this may be somewhat technical at times) what CRISPR/Cas9 is, how it works, and what people are currently using it for (or debating whether they ought to use it for these things, anyway). This will not be an exhaustive review of everything CRISPR/Cas9 related, but it will hopefully make it understandable enough for the interested laity to know what it is and for fellow sci-fi writers to use it more effectively in their writing.

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