an apology, an explanation

As many probably know, my birthday is this Saturday. Traditionally, I have a big party every second year, generally in June, but I don’t know yet if I’m going to make it happen. When it comes to birthday planning, I feel like I’ve been asleep on the train this year. People have been asking, shaking me a little awake, as I ride the days closer to the date, but my eyes have barely focused on the question, other things have been too important. I’m still trying to find ways to pay my rent, still trying to find ways to earn my way, and too engrossed in that to place my attention elsewhere.

As a result, no, I do not have any plans for the giant even-numbered party yet, for which I am legitimately sorry. I do know, however, that I’ll be in Seattle for the actual date this year. Folklife is this weekend, the mad and glorious folk festival that Rafael helps run, and taking a few days off to dance barefoot in the grass sounds pretty darned spectacular right now. If Vancouver people would like to join me there, we have space for people to crash at our place. So far David and Nicole are considering coming, and Lung might be meeting us there on his way back up from California.

I’m sure when I get back, there will be cake, but until I get my finances sorted out, even if only just enough to take care of essentials, I can’t justify taking the time and effort required to make something happen, not even for my birthday. Rent is coming up. I have to concentrate.

SCIENCE!! (the future is now)

Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world’s first synthetic life form

The single-celled organism has four “watermarks” written into its DNA to identify it as synthetic and help trace its descendants back to their creator, should they go astray.

“We were ecstatic when the cells booted up with all the watermarks in place,” Dr Venter told the Guardian. “It’s a living species now, part of our planet’s inventory of life.”

Dr Venter’s team developed a new code based on the four letters of the genetic code, G, T, C and A, that allowed them to draw on the whole alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks to write the watermarks. Anyone who cracks the code is invited to email an address written into the DNA.

Photosynthesis relies on quantum entanglement: Berkeley scientists shine new light on green plant secrets

“This is the first study to show that entanglement, perhaps the most distinctive property of quantum mechanical systems, is present across an entire light harvesting complex,” says Mohan Sarovar, a post-doctoral researcher under UC Berkeley chemistry professor Birgitta Whaley at the Berkeley Center for Quantum Information and Computation. “While there have been prior investigations of entanglement in toy systems that were motivated by biology, this is the first instance in which entanglement has been examined and quantified in a real biological system.”

The results of this study hold implications not only for the development of artificial photosynthesis systems as a renewable non-polluting source of electrical energy, but also for the future development of quantum-based technologies in areas such as computing – a quantum computer could perform certain operations thousands of times faster than any conventional computer.

Stem-Cell Dental Implants Grow New Teeth Right In Your Mouth

Dr. Jeremy Mao, the Edward V. Zegarelli Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, has unveiled a growth factor-infused, three-dimensional scaffold with the potential to regenerate an anatomically correct tooth in just nine weeks from implantation. By using a procedure developed in the university’s Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Dr. Mao can direct the body’s own stem cells toward the scaffold, which is made of natural materials. Once the stem cells have colonized the scaffold, a tooth can grow in the socket and then merge with the surrounding tissue. Dr. Mao’s technique not only eliminates the need to grow teeth in a Petri dish, but it is the first to achieve regeneration of anatomically correct teeth by using the body’s own resources.