1D futurism, redesigning death, GM chimps, Seeing Like a Rover, the no-high drug

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

1. On Hollywood's love for unrealistic, one-dimensional futures.

"They’re striking, I think, in how they exemplify the two dominant cinematic trends in depicting our future: Sleek, anodyne metropolitanism steeped in robotic blue-greys, versus gritty, close-up apocalypticism doused in dark, blood-stained brown-reds. The future, according to Hollywood trailers, is either shining robo-toys, arcing polished glass, and bloodless pageantry—a timeless, well-agreed upon construct of tomorrow that’s clearly fantastical—or a dirt-caked hell-pit where each flesh wound is rendered in gruesome detail, and the End Times are nigh."


2. Redesigning death.

"There’s an ugliness — an inelegance — to death that Paul Bennett gradually came to find unacceptable. It seems to offend him the way a clumsy, counterintuitive kitchen tool might, or a frumpy font. At first, that disgruntlement was just 'a whisper in my mind,' Bennett explains. 'But it’s gone from being a whisper to a roar.' The solution, when it finally occurred to him, felt obvious. 'Oh,' he told himself. 'You need to redesign death.'"

3. Is someone out there in the world going to try to genetically modify chimps to be smarter?

"Most of the genetic differences between humans and chimps are actually found in DNA that codes for regulation rather than actual proteins… when genes get turned off and on. Indeed, it now seems so simple to insert human-style neo-cortex genes into chimpanzees that the very idea that someone, somewhere won’t do it is simply laughable."

4. This book Seeing Like a Rover looks spectacular and beautiful.

"With Seeing Like a Rover, Janet Vertesi takes us behind the scenes to reveal the work that goes into creating our knowledge of Mars. Every photograph that the Rovers take, she shows, must be processed, manipulated, and interpreted—and all that comes after team members negotiate with each other about what they should even be taking photographs of in the first place. Vertesi’s account of the inspiringly successful Rover project reveals science in action, a world where digital processing uncovers scientific truths, where images are used to craft consensus, and where team members develop an uncanny intimacy with the sensory apparatus of a robot that is millions of miles away. Ultimately, Vertesi shows, every image taken by the Mars Rovers is not merely a picture of Mars—it’s a portrait of the whole Rover team, as well."


5. The drug that keeps you from getting high.

"O’Neil set to work creating a method of delivery that the addict couldn’t control. He developed a polymer to encapsulate the pill and make it release more slowly into the bloodstream, along with a medical device – which works almost like a Pez dispenser – to implant the pills into a patient. O’Neil’s naltrexone implants can last for almost a year and can be re-implanted indefinitely. Noel Dowsett, the nurse in charge of Toru’s care and a former heroin addict, is on his 11th implant. 'Methadone you always felt medicated, albeit subtly,' says Dowsett, referring to the opiate given to injection users that is supposed to control cravings without inducing its own high. When he’s on naltrexone, though, Dowsett says all that goes through his mind is: 'God, I’m free.'"


On FusionApple's lady problem—the new version of HealthKit will let someone track copper intake, but not a menstrual cycle.

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip:

distraught, as opposed to distraight, means distracted to the extent of mental confusion, beset with mental conflict. Still current in US but listed as archaic in COD.


The Credits

1. vice.com 2. californiasunday.com | @brockwinstead 3. davidbrin.blogspot.com 4. press.uchicago.edu | @zeynep 5. mosaicscience.com | @ProfDavidNutt


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Must Be Processed, Manipulated, and Interpreted