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Comment Re:Bacteria (Score 1) 22

I don't know of any such strains personally, but experiments to produce extremophiles certainly exist. (Here's one example: high-pressure E. coli.) A search query like this one is probably a good place to start.

Cool, thanks

This all being said, for us to find life on other planets that exists in some of these forms, there has to be a plausible path backing up the process; I think a lot of people don't quite get this. Just because you can breed, say, extremely radiation-resistant bacteria in a lab doesn't mean that life could evolve from scratch with that much radiation present. (Think of it like trying to assemble a ruggedized computer in the middle of a sandstorm.)

That makes sense.

But on the other hand, the current atmosphere on Earth is full of oxygen which would be a deadly poison to the life that initially appeared on Earth, if I understood correctly. When we look at a planet with a telescope I don't think we get enough data to figure out what conditions existed in the past. Maybe past conditions were more pleasant, or life managed to develop in a nicer area (like somewhere below the ground) and then migrated outwards.

So is it really that useful to know that an arsenic tolerant bacteria can evolve on Earth? We have a rather specific history here that may not be the only way that produces life, and that's probably quite different from how things go on many other planets.

Speaking of Mars, there was this idea that the experiments performed by the Viking lander may have killed the life it was trying to find. In light of that it seems to me that figuring out which forms of life can exist is probably a good idea, if only to figure out what instruments could be used to try to find it.

Comment Bacteria (Score 1) 22


I followed with interest the news of the bacteria that can use arsenic. Later (if I understood correctly) it turned out to be less impressive than initially thought, and can only substitute arsenic for a small percentage of the phosphorus it needs.

I was wondering if there have been any attempts to create such bacteria by artificial selection. Is there any sort of targeted effort along those lines to try to determine in what conditions can life exist?


Comment Questions on genetic engineering (Score 2) 10

Hi! Thanks a lot for this great opportunity. Hope it's not too much to ask several questions at once.

I've recently been involved in a discussion on this subject, so several questions came up:

1. Is genetic engineering on the level of creating catgirls, cabbits and such possible with current technology? I'm guessing that given all the progress and existence of things like glowing fish and GM food, it's probably doable, and the only reason such things don't exist yet is due to ethical and economical reasons. Put in another way, how far could one get into mad scientist territory if ignoring all rules was possible?

2. Are there limits to gene therapy? If one can artificially create something like the above, is it possible to make an existing organism rebuild itself into the same shape? I understand that it's probably not been attempted, but are there any known limits past which something of the sort wouldn't be worth trying?

For instance, as somebody with an interest in photography, I think it'd be very neat to be able to improve my vision and become a tetrachromat, or gain the ability to see IR or UV. Can gene therapy get something like that done?

3. What is your opinion on DIYbio?


Comment Re:chicken little (Score 1) 745

The switch will happen either way of course. But there are different types of changes. When it's clear that change is imminent anyway I'd rather have it happen smoothly.

It seems it is currently the cheapest option.

Money isn't the only thing of value in life. I'd gladly have funded the transition to cars back then, to ensure that I have to spend less years drowning in manure. Life is short and I'd prefer to spend it as pleasantly as possible.

Money is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Comment Re:chicken little (Score 1) 745

I see many problems.

The important thing is not just oil, but cheap oil. This specific article is about exploiting the less available fields, which is expensive, complicated, and more polluting than the easy to access wells.

And of course, as can be seen with BP the industry will do anything they can to weasel out of paying for the damage.

Comment Re:chicken little (Score 1) 745

The lesson is that sometimes* there's a currently unknown technical development that will alleviate the linearly projected future problem.

The good thing is that we have alternatives right now. No need to wait for wait for something to magically happen.

The conference in the listed article had to be aborted since they could not even foresee how the problem would be solved.

Again, we're in a better situation: we have options, so we don't need to sit and wait until a solution happens to be found.

No subsidies or regulations were ever needed.

If you were back then, in a city full of flies, bacteria filled water and stinking of cow manure, would you want to try to push the change a bit faster, or would you be happy to wait a few more years until the transition happened naturally?

Also note that the oil industry gets plenty subsidies. This guy's point is that you shouldn't subsidize cars, you should subsidize this horse farm instead.

Comment Re:Idiot (Score 1) 745

Regardless of all that, oil is still going to run at some point.

Regarding solar panels, sure, production of electronics is going to generate pollution, which is why agree with the article that the industry needs to be cleaned up. Thought that's nowhere near the only way of renewable energy production.

And while "everything pollutes to some point" is true, some things pollute more than others.

Comment Re:chicken little (Score 1) 745

The lesson that I extract from that is that horses were indeed an unsustainable technology and had to be replaced with something better and less polluting.

The same way, applied to the current situation, the point is that oil is unsustainable and needs to be replaced with something better and less polluting.

If back then things were like today, then we'd have lots of people insisting that manure isn't really a problem, after all it's an entirely natural thing, and that cars will spell doom for the economy.


Submission + - Microsoft Helped Tunisian Regime Spy On Citizens ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: A document courtesy of the recent Cablegate leak reveals that Microsoft provided training to the Tunisian Ministries of Justice and the Interior in exchange for exemption from the country's open software policy. These Ministries would soon put the training to use by phishing for the social networking credentials of bloggers, reporters, political activists and protesters. Microsoft's assistance resulted in the sale of 12,000 software licenses to the Tunisian government.

Comment Re:Time to shift focus to another kernel? (Score 1) 142

Thousands? They're dirt cheap these days.

Samsung ML-2850 and similar for instance: costs around $130, has a network interface and is compatible with everything, prints double sided out of the box. Box advertises it as Linux compatible even. I'm not sure if it's possible to plug a stick into it though.

Only downside to it I can see so far is chipped cartridges, but there seem to be workarounds for that.

Comment Re:Full Kernel without C* (Score 2) 406

If you're going to replicate an existing project you're always going to be behind it, whether you follow an open or closed development model.

Now, Mono could (and does) add functionality MS doesn't offer, creating exactly the same situation in the opposite direction, assuming the Mono additions become desirable enough that MS would want to keep parity.

Comment Re:Time to shift focus to another kernel? (Score 3, Interesting) 142

In such a case, I do not care for what you make.

Seriously, if Linux won't support it out of the box, I'm not buying it. Got burned before with printers that only work on specific versions of Windows before, not going to have that again.

I only make an exception for 3D drivers and will stop doing that as soon as I can switch to an open driver.

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