Friday, March 16, 2012

March Contest: Abundance Giveaway Redux!

Because I believe this book is so powerful in its message I am going to give away 3 copies of Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. The rules are much simpler this time (mainly given that I did not receive a single entry into last months contest). To get 1 of 3 copies of Abundance all that is required is that you like the fan page on face book for this blog. I will select three people at random from the fan page and they will win.
Its that simple. The message of this book is one that should be spread to as many people as possible.

Rules Recap:
1.Like Event Horizon - Approaching Singularity on Facebook via the fan page box to the left.
2.Three winners will be selected on March 30th, those winners will receive a copy of Abundance!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Age Of Abundance Is Coming.

Today I am posting a video and a response. The topic is the coming age of abundance and the impact that it may have.

The rate at which technology increases is exponential. Emerging technologies are not only going to make many of the worlds problems vanish but enhance our lives on a socioeconomic level that is unheard of. Advances in nanotechnology will solve shortages for water, food, and energy. Nano fabrication eventually is going to be able to produce almost anything. Nano assemblers will be able to fabricate material by constructing things atom by atom. This would include food products. The major shortages in the world are food and water, and with in decades these will be cured. The news is filled with doom and gloom about the condition of the planet. However, the rise in technology is going to find a way to solve these problems.

A question to ask is when we reach the end of a scarcity based economy will there be need for socioeconomic classes? When everyone has access to everything they need then money will become obsolete. The end of money and shortage of resources will elevate humanity like never before.
I highly recommend that you read Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. I am still in the process of reading this book but I have already learned so much as far as the state of the world that we are approaching. Plentiful food, clean water, and limitless energy are on the horizon. Abundance is our future. Imagine what we could do as a species if we no longer needed to fight over resources. I know this view is very Utopian but there is nothing wrong in wanting the best for everyone. That is why I am going to school for Bio-engineering and Anthropology. I want to be on the front of developing technologies to aide and elevate.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Pursuit Of Immortality: Gilgamesh

Immortality has been a goal that has been sought since the beginning of time. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to the search for the fountain of youth, ever generation of man has had those that seek to beat the reaper. Today I want to share an interesting essay that I found. It is a summery about Gilgamesh and his search for immortality.


The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Summary

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a moving tale of the friendship between Gilgamesh, the demigod king of Uruk, and the wild man Enkidu. Accepting ones own mortality is the overarching theme of the epic as Gilgamesh and Enkidu find their highest purpose in the pursuit of eternal life.

The epic begins with Gilgamesh terrorizing the people of Uruk. They call out to the sky god Anu for help. In response Anu tells the goddess of creation, Aruru, to make an equal for Gilgamesh. Thus Aruru created Enkidu, a brute with the strength of dozens of wild animals. After being seduced by a harlot from the temple of love in Uruk, Enkidu loses his strength and wildness yet gains wisdom and understanding. The harlot offers to take him into Uruk where Gilgamesh lives, the only man worthy of Enkidu's friendship. After a brief brawl the two become devoted friends.

The newfound friends gradually weaken and grow lazy living in the city, so Gilgamesh proposes a great adventure that entails cutting down a great cedar forest to build a great monument to the gods. However to accomplish this they must kill the Guardian of the Cedar Forest, the great demon, Humbaba the Terrible. Enkidu, along with theelders of the city, have serious reservations about such an undertaking but in the end Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the terrible demon.

As Gilgamesh cleans himself and his blood stained weapons, Ishtar, the goddess of love and beauty, takes notice of his beauty and offers to become his wife. Gilgamesh refuses with insults, listing all her mortal lovers and recounting the dire fates they all met with at her hands. Ishtar is enraged at the rebuff. She returns to heaven and begs her father, Anu, to let her have the Bull of Heaven to wreak vengeance on Gilgamesh and his city. Anu reluctantly gives in, and the Bull of Heaven is sent down to terrorize the people of Uruk. Gilgamesh and Enkidu, work together to slay the mighty bull. That following night Enkidu dreams that the chief gods met in a council and had decided that someone should be punished for the killing of Humbaba and the Bull of the Heavens. That someone is he. Enkidu commends himself to Gilgamesh, and after suffering terribly for twelve days, he finally dies.

After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh comes to the realization that one day he too will succumb to the same fate as his friend. He sets out to find Utnapishtim the only mortal that the gods have granted eternal life in attempt to find the secret of immortality. After a long perilous journey through the land of darkness, through the garden of the gods, and across the waters of death, Gilgamesh arrives a shore where Utnapishtim lives. Gilgamesh recounts the story of Enkidu's death to Utnapishtim and how he came to his shore. He asks Utnapishtim to tell him the secret of eternal life. Utnapishtim advises Gilgamesh that death is a necessary fact because it is the will of the gods. Gilgamesh pursues the issue further until Utnapishtim recounts how he received immortality and reveals the greatest secret hidden from humans. At the end of his story, which is famously similar to Noah's flood in the book of Genesis, Utnapishtim offers Gilgamesh a chance at immortality. If Gilgamesh can stay awake for six days and seven nights, he, too, will become immortal. Gilgamesh accepts these conditions and sits down on the shore; the instant he sits down he falls asleep. When Gilgamesh awakes, he deigns that he had fallen asleep. Utnapishtim points to the loaves of bread that his wife laid at his side to count the number of days he slept. Utnapishtim's wife convinces the old man to have mercy on him; he offers Gilgamesh in place of immortality a secret plant that will make Gilgamesh young again. The plant is at the bottom of the ocean surrounding the shore. Gilgamesh ties stones to his feet, sinks to the bottom, and plucks the magic plant. But he doesn't use it because he does not trust it. He decides to take it back to Uruk and test it out on an old man first to make sure it work. On his way back, Gilgamesh stops at a well of cool water to drink. There hiding deep in the pool was a snake. When the snake sensed the sweetness of the flower, it rose up out of the water and snatched the plant away causing the snake to slough its skin.

There are a lot of similar themes to this epic as to some of the other mythological stories I have read in the past. I found this particular observation oddly strange because this tale was written thousands of years before many other similar tales. I think this is why this story of Gilgamesh has endured for so long. All in all it was a good read. However, it can be a little confusing at times. I especially like the part where Gilgamesh refuses Istar's advances. The imagery was quite amusing! 

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"A Summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh." 13 Mar 2012

Despite how powerful of a godking Gilgamesh became, he eventually dies. Gilgamesh becomes content with his life and accepts death. What about those of us that do not wish to accept death. Are we modern day Gilgameshes? However, this generation I am confident will succeed. Immortality is inevitable for humanity. However, the question becomes. Do we want it? If we are to live forever are we capable of doing so? The technology may exist but the human spirit may not endure to enjoy it. Will life loose its meaning if we no longer need to die?

Personally I believe that Humanity will change as the technology changes. Recently I transported a patient at work. This patient was born in the year 1910, they were over 100 years old. Think about the type of technology that was around when this patient was born. Here is a link that shows some information about what life was like during the 1910's: .
In 100 years our technological advances have increased astronomically. We are on the cusp of grasping something that Gilgamesh could not. Immortality. Imagine what the world will be like in another 100 years or even just 50 years. It is a good chance that most of us will be alive and well to see and in young bodies to enjoy it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Genetic Manipulation Boosts Growth of Brain Cells Linked to Learning, Enhances Effects of Antidepressants

Life has been hectic. School, work picking up, and the release of Mass Effect 3 have kept me from making any new posts. Today I want to get back into the process of my daily posts. Today I am featuring an article from science daily. Scientists are experimenting with genetic manipulation as a means to boost the brain. It is interesting to think about how giving the brain an “upgrade” will impact society. What will life be like if people can be made to think faster and solve problems quicker. All that would be missing would be matrix style learning. Downloading skills directly into the brain may also be closer then we think. With the rate at which technology doubles, about every 18 months, we can expect to see more amazing advancements in the coming years. 

Story Source:
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Genetic Manipulation Boosts Growth of Brain Cells Linked to Learning, Enhances Effects of Antidepressants

UT Southwestern Medical Center investigators have identified a genetic manipulation that increases the development of neurons in the brain during aging and enhances the effect of antidepressant drugs. (Credit: © rolffimages / Fotolia)
ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2012) — UT Southwestern Medical Center investigators have identified a genetic manipulation that increases the development of neurons in the brain during aging and enhances the effect of antidepressant drugs.

The research finds that deleting the Nf1 gene in mice results in long-lasting improvements in neurogenesis, which in turn makes those in the test group more sensitive to the effects of antidepressants.
"The significant implication of this work is that enhancing neurogenesis sensitizes mice to antidepressants -- meaning they needed lower doses of the drugs to affect 'mood' -- and also appears to have anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects of its own that continue over time," said Dr. Luis Parada, director of the Kent Waldrep Center for Basic Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration and senior author of the study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Just as in people, mice produce new neurons throughout adulthood, although the rate declines with age and stress, said Dr. Parada, chairman of developmental biology at UT Southwestern. Studies have shown that learning, exercise, electroconvulsive therapy and some antidepressants can increase neurogenesis. The steps in the process are well known but the cellular mechanisms behind those steps are not.
"In neurogenesis, stem cells in the brain's hippocampus give rise to neuronal precursor cells that eventually become young neurons, which continue on to become full-fledged neurons that integrate into the brain's synapses," said Dr. Parada, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, its Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The researchers used a sophisticated process to delete the gene that codes for the Nf1 protein only in the brains of mice, while production in other tissues continued normally. After showing that mice lacking Nf1 protein in the brain had greater neurogenesis than controls, the researchers administered behavioral tests designed to mimic situations that would spark a subdued mood or anxiety, such as observing grooming behavior in response to a small splash of sugar water.
The researchers found that the test group mice formed more neurons over time compared to controls, and that young mice lacking the Nf1 protein required much lower amounts of anti-depressants to counteract the effects of stress. Behavioral differences between the groups persisted at three months, six months and nine months. "Older mice lacking the protein responded as if they had been taking antidepressants all their lives," said Dr. Parada.
"In summary, this work suggests that activating neural precursor cells could directly improve depression- and anxiety-like behaviors, and it provides a proof-of-principle regarding the feasibility of regulating behavior via direct manipulation of adult neurogenesis," Dr. Parada said.
Dr. Parada's laboratory has published a series of studies that link the Nf1 gene -- best known for mutations that cause tumors to grow around nerves -- to wide-ranging effects in several major tissues. For instance, in one study researchers identified ways that the body's immune system promotes the growth of tumors, and in another study, they described how loss of the Nf1 protein in the circulatory system leads to hypertension and congenital heart disease.
The current study's lead author is former graduate student Dr. Yun Li, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other co-authors include Yanjiao Li, a research associate of developmental biology, Dr. Renée McKay, assistant professor of developmental biology, both of UT Southwestern, and Dr. Dieter Riethmacher of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Parada is an American Cancer Society Research Professor.

Journal Reference:
Y. Li, Y. Li, R. M. McKay, D. Riethmacher, L. F. Parada. Neurofibromin Modulates Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Behavioral Effects of AntidepressantsJournal of Neuroscience, 2012; 32 (10): 3529 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3469-11.2012