Friday, January 25, 2013

DNA Data Storage

Two British scientists have demonstrated a possible solution to future enormous data storage challenges by storing all of Shakespeare's sonnets on several small stretches of DNA. The four letters in DNA's alphabet — the nucleotides commonly abbreviated as A, C, G and T, are used to corrolate the same binary numbers address numbers 1010.

Shall I Encode Thee In DNA? Sonnets Stored On Doulbe Helix
NPR Morning Edition
Jan 24, 2013

Shakespeare's Sonnets, Encoded In DNA
NPR Talk of the Nation, Science Friday
Jan 26, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

NOVA - Rise of the Drones

NOVA: Rise of the Drones
Aired January 23, 2013 on PBS

"Drones. These unmanned flying robots–some as large as jumbo jets, others as small as birds–do things straight out of science fiction. Much of what it takes to get these robotic airplanes to fly, sense, and kill has remained secret. But now, with rare access to drone engineers and those who fly them for the U.S. military, NOVA reveals the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful as we see how a remotely-piloted drone strike looks and feels from inside the command center. From cameras that can capture every detail of an entire city at a glance to swarming robots that can make decisions on their own to giant air frames that can stay aloft for days on end, drones are changing our relationship to war, surveillance, and each other. And it's just the beginning."

Watch Rise of the Drones on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Regenesis by George Church

"Imagine a future in which human beings have become immune to all viruses, in which bacteria can custom-produce everyday items, like a drinking cup, or generate enough electricity to end oil dependency. Building a house would entail no more work than planting a seed in the ground. These scenarios may seem far-fetched, but pioneering geneticist George Church and science writer Ed Regis show that synthetic biology is bringing us ever closer to making such visions a reality.

In Regenesis, Church and Regis explorethe possibilities—and perils—of the emerging field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, in which living organisms are selectively altered by modifying substantial portions of their genomes, allows for the creation of entirely new species of organisms. Until now, nature has been the exclusive arbiter of life, death, and evolution; with synthetic biology, we now have the potential to write our own biological future. Indeed, as Church and Regis show, it even enables us to revisit crucial points in the evolution of life and, through synthetic biological techniques, choose different paths from those nature originally took."

Is Creating New Life — Maybe Even A Neanderthal — Possible?
January 23, 2013
NPR On Point with Tom Ashbrook

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Double V

The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military
by Rawn James Jr.

NPR Fresh Air
'Double V': The Fight For Civil Rights In The U.S. Military
January 10, 2013

"Executive Order 9981, issued by President Harry Truman on July 26, 1948, desegregated all branches of the United States military by decree. EO 9981 is often portrayed as a heroic and unexpected move by Truman. But in reality, Truman's history-making order was the culmination of more than 150 years of legal, political, and moral struggle. Beginning with the Revolutionary War, African Americans had used military service to do their patriotic duty and to advance the cause of civil rights. The fight for a desegregated military was truly a long war-decades of protest and labor highlighted by bravery on the fields of France, in the skies over Germany, and in the face of deep-seated racism on the military bases at home. Today, the military is one of the most truly diverse institutions in America. In The Double V, Rawn James, Jr.the son and grandson of African American veterans expertly narrates the remarkable history of how the struggle for equality in the military helped give rise to their fight for equality in civilian society. Taking the reader from Crispus Attucks to President Barack Obama, The Double V illuminates the African American military tradition as a metaphor for their unique and dynamic role in American history."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

American Experience - The Abolitionists

Premiering January 8, 15, and 22 2013 on PBS. "Abolitionist allies Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation."

Episode 1 - From Courage to Freedom
Episode 2 - Before Brother Fought Brother
Episode 3 - A House Dividing

Watch The Abolitionists on PBS. See more from American Experience.