Google Body Browser

, , , on December 15, 2010

Google Body Browser. Pretty much only works in dev+ versions of Chrome. Missing some systems, but still cool. Try searching for something. This would be a perfect application for use with a natural user interface.

[via Google Operating System]


Thriving on Arsenic

, , on December 2, 2010

Thriving on Arsenic

Microbe GFAJ-1 supposedly substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its molecular components. As of now researchers have only looked at its DNA, but they still think the backbone is made with phosphorus otherwise it would fall apart in water, and the bacteria are getting the phosphorus from contaminants in what should be a media without it. Basically they found life growing in a pool with a lot of arsenic, which is deadly to humans, so it must be cool.

I feel sort of obliged to post this due to the interest in astrobiology the media seems to have suddenly attained (or blame it on NASA’s hype), but it is not at all unexpected. Arsenic and phosphorus share similar chemical properties. I won’t substantiate my claim and instead tell you to look at a periodic table. In fact, arsenic is deadly to humans because of its similarity to phosphorus; it replaces it and primarily screws up cellular metabolism.

Based on this research, it is unclear if bacteria can actually grow in a medium deficient of phosphorus. There is no evidence of “arsenic based life”! I have a feeling we will learn that the bacteria simply make extensive use of arsenic, but still cannot live without phosphorus– similar to organisms that incorporate both silicon and carbon. The general theme is that life works with what it can efficiently acquire (or else it is no longer life) and chemistry doesn’t give a crap. The longterm astrobiological goal is to figure out the minimum requirements for life, which is hard as hell because we have a life-containing-object-traveling-through-space sample size of one, of which we have much to explore.


Maxwell’s demon and the Nasal Cycle

, , on November 15, 2010

Maxwell’s demon and the Nasal Cycle, both things you should know, of course. Don’t mind the damn Jimbo!

Update: Oh, so there is some testing and rationale behind the Jimbo appeal.


Divided Minds, Specious Souls

, , on September 21, 2010

I would argue this is more an issue of semantics (soul = your reality is governed by a bunch of chemicals), but I like to say that about everything. Not a particularly great article, however I like brains.

Divided Minds, Specious Souls SEEDMAGAZINE.COM.


Why do we eat chili?

, , , , on September 15, 2010

I have an ongoing argument with my family about whether or not spiciness is actually a flavor/spice. I don’t think it is.

Perhaps we seek out the painful experience of snacking on chillies while consciously maintaining awareness that there is no real danger to ourselves … it is this cognitive mismatch itself that provides the thrill: … the burn of capsaicin only seems to be threatening.

This is my opinion of why people like spiciness, and I think it has some roundabout evolutionary answer as well.

The Guardian World News

via Why do we eat chilli?.


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