We’ll start the new year off with a bit of science.

Floating Houses

Not like houseboats, but houses that are moored to the bottom of the sea that then glide “up and down their steel foundational poles with the movements of the waters below.” Movements that, of course, create energy. These homes float but are also “weighted by basins filled with recycled, water-resistant concrete…” to give them some heft on the sea, and they note that “Heavy pieces such as pianos are counterweighted with bricks on the opposite side of the house.” I wouldn’t have thought of that until they rolled the piano into the living room. 

Our oceans WILL rise and our coasts WILL flood, no matter what we do now, so thinking in terms of taking advantage of the changes that we will have to cope with in the coming decades, is exactly how we should all be thinking. 

Cognitive Issues Decline in U.S.

“From 2008 to 2017, the percentage of adults ages 65 and older in the U.S. with serious cognitive issues dropped from 12.2% to 10%…” This was from a Canadian Study that if accurate would have saved about 1.1 million people in the US from the ravages of dementia. My father had Lewy Body, a form of Alzheimers. It’s awful, awful stuff. This is good news and let’s hope it holds up with additional studies and continues in that direction. 

My parents smoked and drank quite a bit for most of their lives. Let us hope that didn’t have anything to do with it. I’d be screwed. 

More seriously, this is a beautiful piece of writing about an aging mind.

Synthetic Biology

What is it? Not much, just “a transformational technology to feed the planet, conquer disease and combat pollution.” Nothing to see here. What? Here’s how they describe it. “Biological information is coded in DNA, so it can be programmed – with the goal of redesigning organisms for useful purposes.” And if that don’t send a chill up your spine, you might want to read it again. 

They say that synthetic biology “holds the promise of reprogramming biology to be more powerful and then mass-producing the turbocharged cells to increase food production, fight disease, generate energy, purify water and devour carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” They say it will grow exponentially, similar to computing power over the past decades. See. It’s not all “redesigning organisms for useful purposes,” in fact, “the potential is for civilization-scale flourishing, [That’s Drew Endy, “an evangelist” for synthetic biology and a professor of bioengineering at Stanford University] a world of abundance not scarcity, supporting a growing global population without destroying the planet.” 

In fact, the revolution is already here: “…the DEKALB seed business … is creating nitrogen-fixing microbes to apply to seeds, potentially reducing the use of chemical fertilizer.” And even better: “Cronos, a Canadian company, is using synthetic biology to develop cannabis edibles.” Seriously; that’s what it said.

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