Category Archives: Transhumanism

What is #Transhumanism?

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Within the confines of SparkRayGun, I tend to throw around the word “Transhumanism” much like my dog, Katie the Wonder Schnauzer, throws around her favorite toy — often and in unpredictable directions.

I consider myself a Transhumanist without reservation, but it occurs to me that new readers may have no idea what I mean by this rather esoteric, yet increasingly popular, term.

So, in the interest of clarity, let’s dive into the world of Transhumanism, where we’ll learn that, like most -ism’s, our journey may raise more questions than answers.

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Students concoct Martin Shkreli’s price-hiked pill for a mere $2

imrs.jpgOne of my favorite hashtags is #BetterWorld. Eleven letters and a hash mark concisely capture a shared goal to make the world a healthier, more sustainable place (depending on what one means by “better,” of course).

With that in mind: Here’s an example of how open source cooperation is fighting the insipid greed and demagoguery that threaten to hold back human progress.

The Washington Post details the movie-villain backstory of Martin Shkreli, the biotech executive has become “widely reviled for hiking the price of a lifesaving drug by more than 4,000 percent overnight, to $750 per pill.”

What can defeat such a diabolical scheme?

A few good high-school students:

 

“A group of 11th grade students claim to have proven a point: the drug can be made for much, much cheaper. The group of 11 high school students, ages 16 and 17, successfully recreated the drug, Daraprim, for a mere $2 a pill, according to scientists from the University of Sydney.”

Shkreli responded via Twitter, admitting he had seen the error of his wrongheaded ways and would immediately drop the price.

Just kidding.

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Apparently, not just anyone can make a coherent sentence.

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Boosting Memory: ‘Member Being Born?

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Special thanks to Futurism.com. I look to their excellent brand of journalism to spark so many of my ramblings. They are worth a follow on Twitter.

One of my favorite episodes of my favorite futurist anthology, Black Mirror, has to be The Entire History of You (season 1 – ep. 3). In the “near future” (the setting for every Black Mirror scenario), a neural implant allows a person to view every memory they have ever had via their smart device. They can also screen cast their memories as a video feed to anyone. Of course, as with any episode, something goes wrong and a cautionary tale is born.

But what if you could regain your memories from earliest childhood? As Futurism’s June Javelosa writes, your toddler memories are still stuck in some back bedroom closet of your brain but you cannot currently access them due to what scientists call infantile amnesia.

However, new research could lead to a Remembrance of Diaper Days Past.

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Yogurt Yearning: #Probiotics May Relieve Stress

Could a yogurt a day keep the anxiety away?

If you’re a zebrafish, probably. If you’re a human, maybe.

Researchers at the University of Missouri report that, in experiments with zebrafish, “a common probiotic sold in supplements and yogurt can decrease stress-related behavior and anxiety.”

The results, recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reportsshow that after being dosed with common probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum zebrafish exposed to stressful conditions showed a reduction in certain gene expressions associated with stress or “fight-or-flight” reactions. In short, beneficial gut bacteria chilled the fish out a bit more than their non-dosed neighbors. Whether these findings will translate to humans (and presumably skyrocketed Dannon stock), the research team hopes the data will “lead to a better understanding of how probiotics may affect the central nervous system in humans.” (Video) 

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Your #Brain is Like a Radio

Initial evidence is found that the brain has a ‘tuning knob’ that is actually influencing behavior. Brain circuits can tune into the frequency of other brain parts relevant at the time. |read more| via Science Daily

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Sleep Researchers Hack Into Nature’s Alarm Clock

circadian-clock-mechanism-publicWhy are some of us able to pop up with no problem at sunrise while others grudgingly give in to the snooze button’s tinny tyranny? The answer may be as basic as two simple elements: potassium and sodium.

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