Blog Postings MirrorEdit
Astrobiology: the search for data - October 12, 2005Edit
Probably the strongest claim that we have data in hand comes from study of Mars meteorite ALH84001. This is the Martian rock first reported in 1996 to possibly contain evidence of fossilized microbial life. It has been estimated that ALH84001 was knocked off of the surface of Mars 20 million years ago during the formation of an impact crater. In 2005 it was reported by Vicky Hamilton of the University of Hawaii that the mineral composition of ALH84001 matches one known location on Mars, Eos Chasma, part of the Valles Marineris canyon system. It has been suggested that this might be a good target for a mission to Mars that would seek signs of past life. (SOURCE)
Klotho hormone and life extension - August 27, 2005 Edit
One of the major interests of transhumanists has become extension of the typical human life span. Results with a hormone, klotho, have been interpreted by some as a sign of hope for the goal of extending the human life span.
"A defect in Klotho gene expression in mice accelerates the degeneration of multiple age-sensitive traits. Here we show that overexpression of Klotho in mice extends life span. Klotho protein functions as a circulating hormone that binds to a cell-surface receptor and represses intracellular signals of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1), an evolutionarily conserved mechanism for extending life span. Alleviation of aging-like phenotypes in Klotho-deficient mice was observed by perturbing insulin/IGF1 signaling, suggesting that Klotho-mediated inhibition of insulin/IGF1 signaling contributes to its anti-aging properties. Klotho protein may function as an anti-aging hormone in mammals." (SOURCE)
Small mammals such as mice may tend to restrict klotho expression in order to help keep a short life span. In such species, such as the mouse, genetic modification to increase klotho levels can increase the life span. It remains to be determined if klotho can increase the human life span without unwanted side-effects.
The Ethics of Creating Consciousness - June 25, 2005 Edit
Guests Marvin Minsky, Brian Cantwell Smith and Paul Davies discuss artificial intelligence and the ethics of man-made consciousness. Can conventional "bottom-up" artificial intelligence research such as IBM's "Blue Brain" project create consciousness? Can a man-made device with electrical patterns in a silicon brain simulate the neuronal networks in the human brain and produce human-like thought?
Add your comments at the artificial consciousness page of the Protoscience wiki.
Webring for Blogs - June 24, 2005Edit
The Agora Webring seeks blogs that rationally examine a wide variety of topics--sort of a virtual marketplace of ideas. ALL viewpoints are allowed and encouraged. The guiding principles here are intellectual freedom, tolerance, and respect--with a healthy dose of humor thrown in for good measure.
Photosynthesis without sunlight? - June 24, 2005Edit
"An obligately photosynthetic bacterial anaerobe from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent" by Beatty JT, Overmann J, Lince MT, Manske AK, Lang AS, Blankenship RE, Van Dover CL, Martinson TA, Plumley FG.
On Earth, one of the key features of life is photosynthesis. Light energy from the sun is the major source of energy for life on Earth. Traditionally, astrobiology has been doninated by the idea that if we are going to find extraterrestrial life, then it will need to be in a critical zone around a star where liquid water can exist on a rocky planet. However, there may be liquid water on some planets or moons that depends on heat from other sources of energy besides light from a star. If photosynthesis were possible using light from sources such as molten rock, then photosynthetic life might be possible independent of traditional stellar "life zones".
Recently published work suggests that photosynthesis might take place in geothermally illuminated environments on Earth. Many of the photosynthetic organisms on Earth are bacteria. Some of these bacteria are capable of photosynthetic growth at extremely low light intensities. Green sulfur bacteria have been isolated from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent, raising the posibility that these organisms may be making use of photosynthesis without light from the sun. If so, this would be a "proof of concept" for the possibility of similar life forms elsewhere in the universe.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 20 2005 PubMed ID: 15967984
Nanomedicine - June 12, 2005Edit
One of the dreams of cryonics is that molecular devices will be created that are able to repair damaged tissues at the cellular level and damaged cells at the molecular level.
"What if doctors could search out and destroy the very first cancer cells that would otherwise have caused a tumor to develop in the body? What if a broken part of a cell could be removed and replaced with a miniature biological machine? What if pumps the size of molecules could be implanted to deliver life-saving medicines precisely when and where they are needed? These scenarios may sound unbelievable, but they are the long-term goals of the NIH Roadmap's Nanomedicine initiative that we anticipate will yield medical benefits as early as 10 years from now."
The paragraph above is from the USA National Institutes of Health. Read about the NIH initiative for nanomedicine.
Advances towards Therapeutic Cloning - May 29, 2005Edit
With the USA Congress working towards a way around President Bush's ban on use of human embryos for development of stem cells for therapeutic cloning, progress on human embryo cloning continues in other countries. The laboratory of Woo Suk Hwang has reported the production of embryonic stem cells for patients seeking stem cell transplantation therapy for medical conditions. Stem cell transplantation is a key technology for the life extension plans of transhumanists.
Dying to find out - May 5, 2005Edit
An article about cryonics, called "Heaven can wait" by Michael Park was published in the Sunday Herald. The history of cryonics and the current state of commercialization are reviewed.
More on mouse hybernation - April 26, 2005 Edit
The money is flowing for mammalian hybernation research. A new company (Ikaria) is being formed with $10,000,000 in venture capital to follow up on the recently published work of Mark Roth's research group (see April 22, 2005 blog post on Suspended Animation).
Contribute to this Blog Edit
If you would like to contribute to this blog, you can do so by visiting the protoscience wiki.
Suspended Animation - April 22, 2005Edit
Cryonics is a protoscientific effort to learn if it might be possible to freeze live humans and then thaw them, possibly at a much later date when advanced medical technology exists. A step short of cryonics is Suspended Animation.
Some animals have a form of suspended animation– hybernation. Two key aspects of hybernation are decrease in metabolic rate and reduction in core body temperature. For humans, a hypometabolic state might have great medical benefit for a variety of conditions, including ischemia and reperfusion injury, pyrexia, and other trauma. Suspended animation–like states may also be useful in surgical situations when delay is sensible for surgical teams, but would be dangerous for the patient.
For humans, most energy comes from oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria. Inhibiting oxidative phosphorylation produces a state of hypometabolism. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a reversible inhibitor of the electron transport chain in mitochondria.
"When mice were exposed to 80 ppm of H2S, their oxygen (O2) consumption dropped by ~50% and their carbon dioxide (CO2) output dropped by ~60% within the first 5 minutes. If left in this environment for 6 hours, their MR dropped by ~90%."
H2S Induces a Suspended Animation–Like State in Mice
A recent article by Eric Blackstone, Mike Morrison, and Mark B. Roth.
Featured Protoscience Update - April 20, 2005Edit
The major protosciences have now all been featured. Since the last listing:
- Quantum consciousness April 14
- Parapsychology April 15
- Transhumanism April 16
- Evolutionary psychology April 17
- Alternative medicine April 18
The featured protoscience topic at the protoscience wiki will now rotate weekly. Nominations for the next featured protoscience can now be made.
New soul science blog - April 17, 2005Edit
- The Astonishing Hypothesis - Crick's materialist approach to soul
- Lyricus Teaching Order - seeking to discover a non-material soul
- Mind, Brain, Soul - questions about the relationships between them
There was a period today when this blog was offline. Going to the URL for this blog (http://www.bloglines.com/blog/JWSchmidt) gave access to a message saying that no such blog exists. If this ever happens to you, I suggest trying again in a few minutes.
From Bloglines News: "This morning, one of our user databases suffered a failure that wasn't detected by our monitoring systems. This resulted in the inability of people to log into their Bloglines accounts. The database has been reset and no data was lost. We apologize for the issue and we're looking at ways to ensure this doesn't happen again."
Later- exactly the same thing did happen again.
Bloglines Downtime "Related to this morning's database outage, we need to replace some failing hardware. Bloglines will be down starting at 7Pm Pacific Time this evening, April 16, 2005. We expect Bloglines to be down for about 3 hours. We appreciate your patience during this time."
How to Comment on this BlogEdit
The protoscience wikia has had a featured protoscience topic each day for the past week.
* Cold fusion April 7, 2005 * Memetics April 8 * Brane cosmology April 9 * UFOlogy April 10 * Alchemy April 11 * Astrobiology April 12 * Science of the soul April 13
Today's feature: The Science of the Soul should be fundamentally multidisciplinary and it would be desirable to invite many others from outside to share their perspectives and join in the development of this wiki resource. Since science as a human enterprise and investigation of the soul have often diverged, it will be important restrict material at this wiki to efforts that have a real connection to science. Much of the material in this wiki-based exploration of the soul is speculative, but the wiki's rules for article style force participants to try to frame all discussion in the language of science. Speculations about the nature of the soul will need to be expressed in terms of hypotheses and the goal of finding objective methods to test those hypotheses. We can start with personal human experiences as relevant data, but our aim is to strive for scientific objectivity. For more information see Science of the soul.
I added the news feed from the world transhumanist association.
It may be best to view transhumanism as a philosophy, but it is built on several emerging sciences. In particular, many transhumanists think that a worthy goal of scientific study is to make humans live forever. Is immortality compatible with human existence? It is probably better to ask if humans can construct a new form of life that would be immortal. Leave you comments at Transhumanism.
Other WikiCities feeds in the blogrollEdit
In addition to the feeds for Recent changes and New pages, I made a folder for other Wikia of Interest. I included the RSS feed from Angela Beesley's Central Wikia blog and RSS feeds for some of my favorite wikia.
New Transhumanism RSS feedEdit
Added RSS feed from this Transhumanism website I found this article on Fermi's Paradox to be of interest. I think that physical scientists like Fermi have been unrealistic about the ways that life evolves. My comment.
I have started to add folders for RSS feeds that are specific to particular protosciences. So far there are "Soul science" and "Xenobiology" folders.
The feed from Astrobiology Magazine is a good resource for people who are interested in life beyond Earth.