4-2-16 Hodgepodge

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Answers and More Questions

A research group is attempting to determine the minimal genomic requirements for life and has recently published its third whittled-down synthetic genome. Derek Lowe comments:

That's smaller than any autonomous replicating organism found in the wild (for comparison, it's about one-tenth the genome of a common bacterium). You'd think that by now we'd have a pretty solid idea of the genes/proteins that are necessary for life, but apparently you (and I) would be wrong. The initial attempts at a minimal genome were actually done de novo, the team being under that same impression. But "An initial design, based on collective knowledge of molecular biology combined with limited transposon mutagenesis data, failed to produce a viable cell." What's rather alarming is the sequence of this current minimal cell: of those 473 genes, 149 of them are of unknown function. [italics in original]
This is, they had no idea why about a third of what are likely its essential genes are there. I find the knowledge and ignorance here equally impressive.

Weekend Reading

"[T]he fighting is less about actual money and more about personal expectations and priorities." -- Michael Hurd, in "How Not to Fight With Loved Ones About Money" at The Delaware Wave

"If an unaltered, untransformed environment is our standard of value, then nothing could be worse than cheap, plentiful, reliable energy." -- Alex Epstein, in "Why Green Energy Means No Energy" at Forbes

"[W]e're treating Islam like we treated Soviet Russia during détente." -- Michael Hurd, in "Panetta Gets It Wrong on GOP Candidates" at Newsmax

"A wind farm may operate near maximum capacity at brief, unpredictable moments and produce little to nothing the rest of the time." -- Alex Epstein, in "The Myth of Wind and Solar 'Capacity'" at Forbes

"The fundamental problem is that this campaign has created an entirely one-sided narrative about patent 'reform': all the problems are caused by patent owners..." -- Adam Mossoff, in "Weighing the Patent System" at The Washington Times

"Resources are not taken from nature, but created from nature." -- Alex Epstein, in "The Truth About Sustainability" at Forbes

"[T]o routinely rule out major life changes until you're so miserable that you're depressed or having panic attacks is not a reasonable solution." -- Michael Hurd, in "Can a Bad Childhood Destroy Self-Esteem?" at The Delaware Coast Press

"Outlawing the sale of sperm will naturally create a shortage." -- Paul Hsieh, in "The Market Solution to the Great Canadian Sperm Crisis" at Forbes

F.O.R.D.: Fail Or Rejigger Daily

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the benefits of "failing faster" here before, but it's a lesson always worth bearing in mind. And none other than Henry Ford exemplified the idea:
The first batch of the Model A's were anything but flawless. In fact, they had so many problems that the Ford Motor Company had to send mechanics to every corner of the country to fix cars. But when the mechanics came back, they came back with feedback; feedback that Ford immediately implemented in his assembly line. With the help of [James] Couzens, they kept shipping, kept making mistakes and kept learning.
The best life lessons are as inspirational as they are practical. Follow the above link to see what I mean.

-- CAV

No comments: