Lots of questions to mull over this week: when programming autonomous cars, who do you choose to let die? Manipulating synthetic proteins from synthetic, 6-letter DNA: any cause for concern? And as for patenting Dolly and her cloned friends, well, that's been decided for you: in the US, you can't. Consider these questions and more arising from the past week in research.
On the MyScienceWork Menu:
Early in the week, we learned of the passing of Dr. Jacinto Convit, a Venezuelan scientist with a 70-year career as impressive for its many contributions to public health as for its length.
In this article, Lucile Pommier explored neuroaesthetics, the fledgling discipline studying the brain’s reaction to and analysis of the beautiful. Some fear that this line of investigation could take us down a dangerous road of generalizing what we call beauty.
Recently, there has been much talk about a certain glacier in Antarctica: the loss of ice it is experiencing may now have passed the point of no return. But how does anyone know that? Read about the ice-flow models that made this calculation possible:
Some favorites from around the web:
If the computer simulations of the glacier don’t help you, try this:
Here, you’ll find another useful guide on some fascinating news:
One of the researchers behind that breakthrough says ethical concerns about manipulating life in this way are overblown.
What of the ethics around autonomous cars’ safety defaults: in a crash, who should they kill?
Another ethical dilemma for you to ponder, this time on the “patenting nature” front:
All these questions making you nervous? Seeing moral quandaries everywhere? What about in this pretty cool news: should we instead fear takeover by a future bionic race?
Unlikely. But consider this story, which got plenty of people daydreaming about the possibility:
Is this a first step toward mind control?? Should we never sleep again?!
Well, no. Any such consequences of these developments are a long way off, but it’s both interesting and important to consider them now.
See you Monday – Who knows what questions next week’s science will hold?