Wednesday, September 10, 2008

life online

Could Life Evolve on the Internet?

By Brandon Keim EmailSeptember 09, 2008 | 7:50:23 PMCategories: ComplexityEvolutionSystems Biology  

If principles of life are universal, could life emerge on the internet?

I posed the question to evolutionary dynamicist Martin Nowak of Harvard University, developer of amathematical model of evolution's origins, the period during which unique chemical structures experienced mutation and selection that guided them toward replication -- and thus to life.

Though Nowak's focus is biological life, the principles seem broadly applicable, perhaps even to configurations of electrons coursing through the Internet's silicon and fiber-optic substrate.

"Computer viruses are some form of evolution," said Nowak.

Alphaamanitinrna_polymerase_ii_comp"Viruses fulfill replication, mutation and selection -- but people don't consider them to be alive, because they think life has to be made of chemicals," saidIrene Chen, a Harvard systems biologist who specializes in early biomolecules.

"We can definitely make things in a computer that fulfill the criteria for life that NASA uses, except it's not chemical," she added, and cited the AVIDAprogram at Michigan State...

just a great little video

Borges reminds us: the map is not the territory.

Monday, September 08, 2008

palin library banned books: update

In my last post I quoted the Kilkenny e-mail about how Palin tried to ban books at Wasilla Public Library. To be fair now, Snopes goes into more detail on the subject and holds that Palin never actually attempted to ban any specific titles.

My call to actively oppose her based on her opposition to the right to read must now in fairness be actively recalled, as she did not actively pursue an agenda of censhorship as mayor. She merely hinted at it.

But look -- if she's interested in banning books, what a lever she will have to attempt to do so as a vice-president in the age of terror.