books, good news, health & fitness, movies, science, things getting better

The Code Breakers by Walter Isaacson

Have you heard of CRISPR?

(clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their contributions in the development of a method for genome editing.

It’s called the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

Based on how bacteria fights off virus attackers, in future CRISPR will be used to fight coronavirus variations.

Click PLAY or see how it works on YouTube.

Most people my age know about Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. But I certainly couldn’t explain anything about CRISPR before reading this book.

Once again, Walter Isaacson made a complex story entertaining with this 2021 biography:

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code. …

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.

simon and schuster

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The first half of the book is the story. Very entertaining.

Then it gets better.

A detailed look at the drama over WHO wins the awards. WHO gets the patents.

Of course there are many other scientists who could have and should be lauded for breakthroughs in this field. They are covered in the biography, as well.

Most worthy — perhaps — is Feng Zhang. But he and his boss Eric Lander come off as BAD GUYS in this book, unethical in their collaborations.

ONE bit of good news. When COVID-19 was announced early 2020, both Zhang’s and Doudna’s companies changed research priorities towards developing CRISPR-based coronavirus tests. Both were successful and both hope to make simple at-home tests ready for market in 2021: Sherlock and Mammoth.

The most entertaining of the CRISPR giants is geneticist George Church. When the movie is made, he’ll be the fan favourite.

Emmanuelle Charpentier is an intriguing personality, as well. I’d read her biography.

Apple, ethics, Facebook, good news, Google, government, human rights, internet, things getting better

Why we LOVE Stacey Abrams

If you’re celebrating seeing Donald Trump and the worst of his deplorable followers driven off social media, thank Stacey Abrams.

She devoted years to building the Democratic Party in Georgia. Wrote a book about voter suppression and co-produced an Amazon Prime documentary, “All In: the Fight for Democracy.”

People in the know credit Stacey Abrams for flipping the 2 Senate seats from Republican to Democrat.

NOW the Biden team has control of all 3 branches of government for 2 years.

NOW the Biden team can enthusiastically regulate BIG TECH.

NOW Twitter, Facebook and pretty much every other major platform is banning Trumpy hate speech.

Thanks Stacey.

ethics, good news, government, human rights

Time’s Person of the Year 2018 – JOURNALISTS

Great decision in an era where dictators and toddler-dictator-wannabes call all criticism FAKE NEWS.

Time magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year title goes to the “guardians and the war on truth.”

The honour has been given to four journalists and a newspaper that Time says “are representatives of a broader fight by countless others around the world. …

The “guardians” are:

  • Jamal Khashoggi, the prominent Saudi journalist who was killed in that country’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
  • The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., where five people were shot and killed at the newspaper’s offices in June.
  • Maria Ressa, a detained Philippine journalist who is head of independent news website Rappler​.
  • Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who have been jailed in Myanmar for nearly a year.​

CBC – Time names killed, jailed journalists as 2018 Person of the Year

economics, education, ethics, Facebook, good news, internet, product endorsements, things getting worse

the future of the NEWS

What will the most popular news sources of the future look like?

I’m hopeful for the soon to be launched Wikitribune.

Evidence-based journalism

People today mostly get their news from TV (not bad) and social media (terrible).

My favourite news source right now is Axios, just 6 months old.

Smart brevity.

Axios covers 7 areas: politics, tech, media trends, health, science, energy, and future of work (AI, robotics, etc.).

They want to deliver the cleanest, smartest, most efficient and trust-worthy experience for readers and advertisers alike.

It was founded by Mike Allen, former chief political reporter for Politico. I like Politico too, founded in 2007. And  Jim VandeHei.

John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei left The Washington Post to become The Politicos editor-in-chief and executive editor, respectively.

So … Washington Post begat Politico begat Axios.

If interested, start by signing up for any of the Axios email newsletters.

 

 

good news, government, product endorsements, things getting better, travel

mapping the world in a simpler way

What3words (stylizedwhat3words) is a geocoding system for the simple communication of locations with a resolution of 3 m.

what3words encodes geographic coordinates into 3 dictionary words (for example, the Statue of Liberty is located at planet.inches.most).

Click PLAY or see how it works on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/112227335

Mongolia officially adopted the new address system. Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo.

economics, ethics, good news, government, product endorsements, things getting better

best refugee housing

Let’s say you have to flee your country.

Where would you go?

You’d cross the border hoping to return to your home, family and friends as soon as possible.

To a clean, safe refugee camp.

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Former soldier and UN observer Neale Sutton and businessman Andrew Hamilton’s self-designed “Humanihut” was last week plucked from relative obscurity to be on the Disrupt 100 list, an index of the most promising start-ups around the world. …

After securing a $50,000 grant from the South Australian government, the pair then engaged Adelaide company Applidyne to create “proof of concept” drawings based on their specifications.

The final product is a robust family-sized hut that can be set up in five minutes, with a village of 2400 huts designed to be set up in three days, inclusive of power, water and sewage. Their calculations show that one shipping container can hold 16 Humanihuts.

“When you unpack the 16 huts, the shipping container is then reconfigured to be the shower, washing and cleaning facilities for those people living in those 16 huts. We bring our own water treatment plant that can reuse 85 per cent of the “black water” for showers and toilets,” said Sutton. …

South Australian entrepreneurs seek to improve refugee lives with Humanihut

Click PLAY or watch it on Facebook.

The Humanihut Shelter System is an inexpensive, innovative and robust shelter system for people at their time of greatest need.

humanihut.com

Thanks Mary.