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Comment: Re:wait, what? (Score 4, Interesting) 82

by Baby Duck (#48144491) Attached to: Companies Genetically Engineer Spider Silk

I actually invested money into the now dissolved Canadian company, Nexia Biotechnologies, which was the first to do the spider-goats. You are entirely correctly. Spinning the silk is the harder second part. The gains in reducing cost per meter couldn't keep the pace with similar gains in carbon nanotubes, which competed for many of the same practical applications. Nexia's first path to market was to be superstrong medical sutures. At first, the FDA promised expensive human trials would not be needed since the proteins were naturally occurring. When the FDA later about-faced, it was Game Over for Nexia, who sold the IP rights to a company in Virginia. They also sold the IP behind their proven anti-chemical warfare agents. But the tyrants of the world never used chemical warfare against the US military, so that was (thankfully) also a financial bust.

Nexia was also trying to GMO a plant crop that could grow the silk protein in their leaves. After harvesting, the leaves would be grinded and sifted. However, you're still back to the same Spinning Problem that you highlighted.

Comment: Bad Analogy (Score 2) 64

by Baby Duck (#47936685) Attached to: London's Crime Hot Spots Predicted Using Mobile Phone Data
This is not like Minority Report at all. It predicts which locations at which times have a higher probability of a crime committing. It does not predict the particular crime, transgressor, or victim. It won't actually stop any crime from happening. The best it can do is allow a police force to more intelligently deploy their forces. They will be more able to rapidly respond to crimes after they happen, since statistically, they will more often have officers already dispatched to the nearby crime area.

Comment: Re:Satre was an embittered multiplayer game player (Score 1) 292

by Baby Duck (#47917803) Attached to: The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming
Guild Wars 2 has an even more compelling "single-player illusion". Each mob has private loot for each player who hit it (mobs don't "tag" to the first attacker). Each gathering node is completely independent for each player -- they just happen to be in the same locations. There are events in the real world all the time where anyone can freely jump in or out. You don't have to join a party/raid or even communicate with those around you. Since you can bid on items that aren't even in the auction house at that moment, a lot of the need for trade chat goes away (though not completely).

Comment: Snowden (Score 5, Insightful) 499


Cohen speculates that the massive leaks by Edward Snowden of national security secrets, which began in June 2013, could also have been a factor in NSF’s decision. “If it’s a matter of weighing the employee’s statement against what the investigator says he has found, agencies will resolve it in favor of national security,” Cohen says. “That’s just how it is, especially after Snowden.”

Confirmed my suspicion when I first read the summary. THIS will be the lasting legacy of Snowden's actions. Not increased government accountability or transparency, but a hellbent determination to make sure they will never be caught with their pants down again. Sigh.

Comment: More Complicated Than That (Score 2) 211

by Baby Duck (#47872609) Attached to: Information Theory Places New Limits On Origin of Life

a key property that distinguishes living from non-living systems: their ability to store information and replicate it almost indefinitely.

As Douglas Hofstadter pointed out, it's actually more complicated than merely indefinite replication. It has to allow variance while still retaining the ability to replicate. Sure, there are clones everywhere, especially outside the animal kingdom, and they still considered "living". So the quote is still technically true. But it doesn't capture how immensely more difficult it was for life we observe here on Earth to come about. It also raises an interesting question. Did non-varying life have to come about first, in order to saturate the environment with organic compounds? Did the varying life then come about later, piggy-backing on this enriched environment? Or can you go straight from an abiotic world to varying life?

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane