Robust life extension reaches the Washington Post on Halloween day

AubreyandAdelaideSENS3Let’s meet the informal version of the ‘pro-aging trance’ in a portrait on Aubrey de Grey in the Washington Post (thanks for the tip, Jim):
Why is it, when you bring up the idea of living forever — even if robust and healthy, not drooling on your shoes — some people just recoil viscerally?

“It’s probably the majority that recoils viscerally,” de Grey says. “It’s what I call the pro-aging trance.

“Since the beginning of civilization, we have been aware that aging is ghastly and that aging is utterly inevitable. . . . So we have two choices. Either we spend our lives being preoccupied by this ghastly future or we find some way to get on with our miserably short lives and make the best of it.

“If we do that second thing, which is obviously the right thing to do, then it doesn’t matter how irrational that rationalization might be. . . . It could be, well, we’re all going to go to heaven. Or it could be, we’re going to have overpopulation. Or it could be, it will be boring. Or, dictators will live forever.

“It doesn’t matter what the answers are. It’s so important for them to maintain their belief that aging is actually not such a bad thing, that they completely suspend any normal rational sense of proportion.”

But if people don’t die, won’t we indeed fill the planet shoulder to shoulder?

“The birthrate is going to have to go down by an order of magnitude,” de Grey acknowledges. “But even if that is going to be a severe problem, the question is not, do problems exist? The question is, are they serious enough to outweigh the benefits of saving 100,000 lives a day? That’s the fundamental question. If you haven’t got an argument that says that it’s that serious that we shouldn’t save 30 [bleeping] World Trade Centers every [bleeping] day, don’t waste my time. It’s a sense of proportion thing.”

Picture made by me with the iPhone on Aubrey and Adelaide on the SENS3 conference in the dining hall of Queens’ College.

Will Nature Network join to the Google Gang to use Open Social?

Google will launch this Thursday a new project, called Open Social, a set of software tools for developers to create applications for multiple social networking sites. The standards are accepted so far by Hi5, Orkut, LinkedIn, Friendster, Ning, Salesforce.com, and Oracle, and not accepted by MySpace and obviously Facebook (the whole project could be interpreted as a gigantic anti-Facebook move or positively as a revolutionary pass over Web 2.0 step).

My question for today concerning the scientific web community: Will Nature Network accept to use Open Social and when? With the focusing on the most common usages Open Social apps are open to cover the general activities of scientists joining to any network, while specialized functions/data can be accessed from the hosts directly via their own APIs.

According to Techcrunch: OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks:

  • Profile Information (user data)
  • Friends Information (social graph)
  • Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

Links:

Google Launches OpenSocial

Google rushes to open itself up

Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook

P.S. I wonder what effect Open Social will have on the identity and uniqueness of different social networking sites?

What is your (science) blogging writing style?

jokerkillingjokeYesterday I’ve sent the following (slightly edited) email to a bunch of science bloggers I know and respect for very different reasons. I plan to blog the answers (if they come) one by one:

Dear Fellow Science Blogger,

Every blogger has his/her blogging writing style and in many cases we do know the components our style is made of and recognize the different sources we use and mimic. Would you be kind enough to answer this question shortly in your style for me in order to show the variety of the genre called ‘science blogging‘?

Thanks in advance,

Attila Csordas

P.S. For instance I am fully aware that my style is made out of the following components amongst others: spontaneity (to the extreme of originality sometimes), experimentalism, idiosyncratic non-native speaker errors, lack of time, partial attention, insider science heavy lingo that is “terminological arias” (by default), (brackets), question and exclamation marks, science essay writing style educated on British and American analytic philosophers, movie, literature and comics experiences, Wired type tech hype journalism and first of all…enthusiasm about science and technology.

The official method, the DIY solution and the science hack

Original title, let’s call it subtitle: Can we isolate human cell clone derived colonies with an inoculation loop?

The following post is dedicated for scientists who ever faced with a similar problem, that is running out of cloning disks and working late.

In experimental science, when people are facing with a problem need to be solved within a restricted time frame, they can choose out of 3 main scenarios: the official or the received method, the DIY solution and the shortcut hack. (There is also a ‘fourth’ solution: outsourcing, using networking capabilities). People in the lab are different by their affinity to these patterns: engineering, tinkering, hacking or ‘networking’. Here is a recent example.

Continue reading

My Arduino and home electronics starter kit

starterkithomeelectronicsAfter a hard experimental week (I have now around 55 T-75 or T-175 flasks with 6 different growing cell lines in the incubator) finally I have been able to turn a little weekend attention to move a step further with my home electronics “maker” plan. Instead of buying a complete Arduino starter pack ($65) I’ve just bought an Arduino diecimila open source microcontroller and a tiny breadboard on the Austin Maker Faire. But now I moved to the closest Radio Shack to get some capacitors, resistors and transistors. With all this investment so far I am still under $70. Bu I forgot to buy wires, hookup for the breadboard, stranded to panel-mounted components like LEDs, and I don’t have proper tools yet, like soldering iron and wire striper, multi-meter and loupe. Basic reference: MAKE The home electronics issue, particularly Charles Platt Your Electronics Workbench For programing an Arduino you need a PC, and my backup laptop, the iBook G4 is just perfect for that purpose. Next issue was to make the system work, and here is a step by step process, basically you download the programing environment and install it with the USB driver, then connect a LED (positive (longer) leg of the LED to pin 13 and the negative (shorter) leg to ground (marked “GND”), plug in the Arduino and upload the first trial Blinking LED code to the board and run it. Voila, you have the system.

blinkingLEDwith Arduino

Meeting with Mark Zupan at Juan’s Flying Burrito in New Orleans

Murderball’s Mark ZupanMark Zupan is a tough guy, he is the captain of the United States quadriplegic wheelchair rugby team. Mark was the main character in the award-winning documentary entitled Murderball, a film I was impressed so much when I had seen it back at home in my favorite Toldi mozi. Mark was restricted to a wheelchair due to a truck crash when he was thrown into a canal and was stuck in frigid water, barely clinging to a tree branch, for fourteen hours and had broken his neck. Mark co-authored a book, called GIMP in which he tells his story on how he could totally redefine his life “through love, friendship, and an introduction to a new sport. Mark realized that he could live a more-than-full life in a chair and has gone on to create an existence that’s truly exceptional. Now a Paralympic athlete (playing quad rugby, aka “murderball”) who’s starred in a movie, Mark explains in his memoir that, in a way, getting hurt was the best thing that could ever have happened to him—and that despite people’s prejudices, a guy in a chair still gets to have sex with his girlfriend, party with his friends, and even crowd-surf at Pearl Jam shows.

And yesterday at the Juan’s Flying Burrito Restaurant on Magazine Street, New Orleans (Irish Channel neighborhood) we’ve just ran into Mark Zupan. Normally it is not my taste to bother celebrities, but Mark is different, I found his real life character respectable so I dared to approach him and ask. Finally Anna shot the following picture: Continue reading

Science’s Netwatch: Aging blog in focus

Here is another sign that the editors at Science Magazine are taking more and more attention to the web and the scientific blogosphere: Ouroboros (that is: Chris, Okie and Lev) was picked up in the Random Samples column of the current Science issue: “But research on aging is booming, and the field’s good health is on display at the blog Ouroboros, which is named for a symbol of endlessness. Three postdocs from leading aging research labs offer their takes on the latest results from conferences and the literature. The site is aimed at researchers, but it can also help beginners get up to speed.”
It seems that the editors are sharing my opinion that Ouroboros is one of the best science blogs out here and it is also worth mentioning that Chris Patil’s incentive of Ouroboros was Science Magazine’s SAGE KE.
Another remarkable thing is Chris’s approach of developing a group blog instead of building an individual brand and focusing exclusively on biogerontological peer review literature and conferences.