Links for 7th January 2010

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. Religion and Science Fiction: Asking the Right Questions

    "Good science fiction doesn’t concern itself with “Does God exist?”, but rather “What is God?” How do we define God? Is God one being that created us? Is God a race of sentient alien beings that see all of time and space at once and is helping us evolve in ways we are too small to understand? Is God never-ending energy that is of itself? And why is it so important to human beings to define God at all? To express gratitude to whatever God is? Why do people have the need to say “thank you” to something they can’t see and will probably never understand? To me, these are the important questions. They’re also the most interesting." Interesting perspective; worth a read.

    Tagged with: sfsciencefictionreligionmetaphorphilosophy

  2. How America Can Rise Again | James Fallows

    "That is the American tragedy of the early 21st century: a vital and self-renewing culture that attracts the world’s talent, and a governing system that increasingly looks like a joke. One thing I’ve never heard in my time overseas is “I wish we had a Senate like yours.” When Jimmy Carter was running for president in 1976, he said again and again that America needed “a government as good as its people.” Knowing Carter’s sometimes acid views on human nature, I thought that was actually a sly barb—and that the imperfect American public had generally ended up with the government we deserve. But now I take his plea at face value. American culture is better than our government. And if we can’t fix what’s broken, we face a replay of what made the months after the 9/11 attacks so painful: realizing that it was possible to change course and address problems long neglected, and then watching that chance slip away."

    Tagged with: USApoliticsculturehistoryfuturismdeclinerenaissanceeconomicsgovernment

  3. About 8 percent of human genetic material comes from a virus and not from our ancestors

    "… Feschotte speculates about the role of such viral insertions in causing mutations with evolutionary and medical consequences.

    The assimilation of viral sequences into the host genome is a process referred to as endogenization. This occurs when viral DNA integrates into a chromosome of reproductive cells and is subsequently passed from parent to offspring. Until now, retroviruses were the only viruses known to generate such endogenous copies in vertebrates. But Feschotte said that scientists have found that non-retroviral viruses called bornaviruses have been endogenized repeatedly in mammals throughout evolution."

    Tagged with: sciencebiologygeneticsDNAvirusendogenizationevolution

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