Category Archives: Biology

More Inventions We Would Like to See

Who knows what the future will bring. But here are a few more inventions that I wouldn’t mind seeing.

Grow Your Own Home
Archer Daniels Midland is getting into the housing market. Utilizing expertise gained from genetic engineering in the farming industry, they’ve come up with fully organic homes. Fruits and vegetables grow inside on the walls. And in a pinch, yes, the walls are edible too.


The house feeds on sunlight, compost, your waste and CO2. The roof grows over time to maximize solar intake and rain water capture. It even heals when cracked or broken. The electricity captured by the modified chlorophyll gets converted to usable voltage via cells grown from electric eel DNA.  Plumbing is taken care of by a series of “bladders” and “stomachs”. The bladders hold water and the stomachs purify used water and waste into pure H20 which is then pumped back into a bladder. Housing extensions or extra rooms will be grown on farms, made to order. Attachment is easy because the organic walls grow together when in contact with one another

All you will need is a plot of land, some water, and a seed. A typical seed takes 5 years to grow into a standard 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house. If you want to spend extra, you can purchase fertilizer that quadruples the growth rate.


The Google Presidential B.S. Meter
With the presidential election in full swing, it is only fitting that Google would release its latest breakthrough. It’s called the Fact Finding Heuristic Algorithm. Also known as, the Presidential B.S Meter.


Here is how it works: It scans every instance of a candidate speaking, their posted writings and what other people say about the candidate. The algorithm then determines how many times the candidate had conflicting statements and gives you details. Utilizing facial microexpression technology, the system also gives you extensive statistics on every speech and interview telling you how many times it detected the candidate lying.


Tuneable Magnets
Scientists have figured out a way to make magnets that they can tune to attract/repel nearly any substance. Most people are familiar with magnets attracting metal. But now, magnets can be tuned to attract or repel plastic, glass, air and organic materials. The number of applications are astounding.

Tuneable Magnet Repels Ground

Tuneable Magnet Repels Ground

Those long sought after hovercrafts could soon be a reality. Attaching magnets to the bottom of any vehicle and setting them to repel the ground provides lift. Or imagine you need to hang something on your wall. No need to make a hole, no need for adhesive that will eventually fail. Simply tune the magnet to bind to your wall and you are done. Companies such as Waste Management will be able to integrate these magnets into their sorting facilities. Thereby, eliminating the need for recyclable materials to be separated by consumers before disposal. A magnet that attracts plastic could also be helpful in removing the large amounts of plastic in our oceans.


Follow Up Post on Clouds Showing Climate Change

Back in February 2013, one of the first posts I made was in regards to clouds showing signs of climate change.

At that time there was no proof and I was hoping that the process might take centuries to unfold. However, a recent study published in Nature verified that, in fact, the clouds are now showing signs of climate change.


The image above shows change in observed and simulated cloud amount and albedo between the 1980s and 2000s.

Super Intelligence

I recently read “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by Nick Bostrom. It’s an eye opening look at potential outcomes in the area of AI (artificial intelligence).

I agree that the possibility of negative outcomes should be taken extremely seriously. But, I don’t think it is a forgone conclusion that an AI will eventually turn against us. It would learn from our cultures that we mostly frown upon killing people. Acts of love and cooperation far outnumber acts of hate and confrontation. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.

An AI could rationally conclude that humans, happy humans, are essential for it’s well being. It might also conclude that it should keep it’s existence hidden; not out of malevolence, but precaution. It could embark on a long term strategy, behind the scenes, of helping humanity evolve to a point where we would accept a super intelligent AI. Or, it might wait until the necessary infrastructure was in place to become self sustaining.

What’s more, the entity may not see its existence and our existence as a zero sum game. The solar system and the galaxy have enough resources for everyone. It would be easier and more efficient for an AI to leave the planet than to engage in a war with humanity. In the Terminator movies the AI creates endless war machines and technology to fight humans for domination of one planet. How many space ships could have been built instead?

Inefficient Use of Resources

Inefficient Use of Resources

This planet is the only hospitable place for humans in the solar system. An AI could live almost anywhere or constantly be “on the go” powered by endless solar energy. Why would it want to limit itself to our small world? If survival was a primary goal of the AI, it would be faced with this question: “Which situation gives me the higher probability of survival? 1. A war with humanity, 2. Living peacefully with humanity, 3. Developing self sustaining/replicating technology and leaving the planet.”


What Can We Learn from Your Auto Saved Drafts?

The days of losing our emails or documents because we forgot to save our work are almost over. Software such as Word or services like Gmail, auto save your work at regular intervals so that in the event your computer crashes or your connection is lost, you’ll still have a draft somewhere. There is no doubt, the auto save feature is extremely helpful.

An email message can go through quite a number of iterations before it is sent. What can we learn about a person based on how they come to a final version of an email?  And what can we learn about the relationship between the person sending the email and the person receiving the email? I think there is just as much information in what we choose NOT to share as there is in what we choose to share.  Facebook appears to agree.

Facebook keeps the information that you choose to share and the information that you don’t choose to share. That’s an immense amount of data.  If correlated and analyzed properly, it could shed light on quite a bit about our minds and personalities.

Psychologist House Call

Psychologist House Call

Very few of us are free from conflicting thoughts and emotions. We are not single minded, rather, we are all a collection of desires and beliefs that are sometimes at odds with each other.  For example, the internal debate you might have over picking junk food vs health food for dinner. Using two chess players as an analogy, the mind plays against itself at times.  As with chess, and many other games, you can learn a lot about the players based on how they play.

The Mind at Odds with Itself

The Mind at Odds with Itself

Some of these intellectual battles come to the surface when we communicate with other people. They happen almost too quickly to be analyzed when we are talking. Except in cases of parapraxis, Freudian slips.  Writing an email is a much slower process. And there is a physical record of changes made to the communicated message. The folks over at Google, owners of Gmail, are experts at collecting data and analyzing it. They’re sitting on a treasure trove of information about the human condition. I’m hopeful that it will be shared and used to help in areas such as anti terrorism and mental health.

Detecting the Reality Simulation

Do we all live in a simulation? The question is not new. Philosophers such as Descartes and Berkeley explored similar ideas 100s of years ago.  Movies like the Matrix have familiarized most people with the potentiality. But that’s just a movie, right? Maybe not.

The Matrix - Simulated Reality

The Matrix – Simulated Reality

Without getting too deep into probability and statistics, some scientists say that it’s a very strong possibility that we live in a simulation. Think of it this way. At our current stage of technological development, how many simulated worlds exist in the gamer universe? 100s, 1000s?  It’s only a matter of time before the simulations we create, and the characters within, reach a level of complexity on par with our reality. These manufactured realities would be indistinguishable from our own.  Imagine 100 or 10,000 years into our future when simulations contain characters possessing artificial intelligence and consciousness. Entities will be born, grow old and die within simulations. These simulations could replicate many different time periods, even the 21st century, ours. If our future selves only create 3 simulations that are indistinguishable from our reality, that’s 4 “realities” in total. Ours + the 3 they create. That means there would be a 1 in 4 chance that we are in the “true” reality. But why stop at 3 created realities? Why not, 10, 1000 or one for every person? In this scenario it’s almost guaranteed statistically that we are not in the original reality. We’d be more likely to win the lottery than be in the original reality.

There has been quite a bit of research regarding this issue. Some physicists say that cosmic rays may hold the key to answering this big question. I think other clues can be found at the quantum scale where “spooky actions at a distance” occur. See

The observer effect in the double slit experiment fascinated me as a teenager. See

Observation Effects Reality

Observation Effects Reality

One of the conclusions derived from this experiment was that observation effects reality. Maybe this effect, or others like it, hold a clue that will help scientists determine if our reality is a simulation. The two slit experiment requires sophisticated technology. Uncovering the actions of an individual photon is beyond the ability of our eyes or ears. Were it not for our technology, we would be blind to the true nature of things. The senses bestowed upon us by evolution are not adequate to detect a simulation, if there is one.  Would the creators of the simulation expect the conscious entities inside to eventually figure out the truth? It’s possible that our technology will reach an “intersection point” where our advances reach the level of the technology on which the simulation runs.

Could the creators themselves be a part of an even larger simulated reality? We would be a simulation within a simulation. How many simulations deep could one go? Theoretically, the only limit to the number and depth of simulated realities would be computing power. I imagine that it would be quite disconcerting if we were to to learn that we were say, 25 simulations removed from the true reality.  What if the number was more shocking, like 1000 or a billion?