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Jul 5, 2008

Using Vaccines more Effectively to Stop Pandemics

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, information science

If a pandemic strikes and hundreds of millions are at risk, we won’t have enough vaccines for everybody, at least not within the time window where vaccines would help. But a new strategy could help use the vaccines we have more effectively:

Researchers are now proposing a new strategy for targeting shots that could, at least in theory, stop a pandemic from spreading along the network of social interactions. Vaccinating selected people is essentially equivalent to cutting out nodes of the social network. As far as the pandemic is concerned, it’s as if those people no longer exist. The team’s idea is to single out people so that immunizing them breaks up the network into smaller parts of roughly equal sizes. Computer simulations show that this strategy could block a pandemic using 5 to 50 percent fewer doses than existing strategies, the researchers write in an upcoming Physical Review Letters.

vaccine-targeting.jpg

So you break up the general social network into sub-networks, and then you target the most important nodes of these sub-networks and so on until you run out of vaccines. The challenge will be to get good information about social networks, something not quite as easy as mapping computer networks, but there is progress on that front.

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Jun 13, 2008

Aging 2008 — an Open Event for Regenerative Medicine

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

There is a strong overlap between those concerned about extinction risk prevention and healthy life extension. Accordingly, many supporters of the Lifeboat Foundation will be attending an open event on regenerative medicine taking place on the UCLA campus on the 27th of June. Here is the blurb:

On Friday, June 27th, leading scientists and thinkers in stem cell research and regenerative medicine will gather in Los Angeles at UCLA for Aging 2008 to explain how their work can combat human aging, and the sociological implications of developing rejuvenation therapies. Aging 2008 is free, with advance registration required.

UCLA Royce Hall
Friday June 27th | Doors open 4pm
405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024

This special public event is being organized by the Methuselah Foundation. Dr. Aubrey de Grey, chairman and chief science officer of the Methuselah Foundation, said, “Our organization has raised over $10 million to crack open the logjams in longevity science. With the two-armed strategy of direct investments into key research projects, and a competitive prize to spur on competing scientists’ race to break rejuvenation and longevity records in lab mice, the Foundation is actively accelerating the drive toward a future free of age-related degeneration.” The Methuselah Foundation has been covered by “60 Minutes,” Popular Science, the Wall Street Journal, and other top-flight media outlets.

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Jun 11, 2008

Synbioethics/synthethics: Synthetic biology cause concern

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The report, “Synthetic Biology: Social and Ethical Challenges”, highlights concerns about ownership, misuse, unintended consequences, and accidental release of synthetic organisms into the environment.

Andrew Balmer and Professor Paul Martin, the report’s authors, suggest a threat from “garage biology”, with people experimenting at home. They also emphasise that there is no policy on the impact of synthetic biology on international bioweapons conventions.

Read the entire report here (PDF).

May 29, 2008

Time for a Bigger Machine!

Posted by in category: lifeboat

Supercomputer

We are currently hosting lifeboat.com on free web space provided by rubyredlabs.com. Due to the growth in our traffic plus more general activity on this server, it would be best if we had our own server.

Note that we have additional space from KurzweilAI.net on a shared server (shared with many domains) but the shared server is always rather loaded since it has so many domains on it so we don’t host our main pages on it. (We use the shared server for backups, file transfers, and less important domains.)

Our current solution is to stay with the same provider as rubyredlabs.com but to move to our own machine. (This should simplify the transition.) The current provider is theplanet.com. We plan on getting: Intel Xeon 3210 Quad Core Kentsfield Processor, 250GB HDD, 4GB RAM, 2500GB bandwidth, 10 IPs, 100mbps uplink — $199 monthly / $25 setup.

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May 29, 2008

The Heirs of Prometheus

Posted by in categories: human trajectories, space

Crossposted from the blog of Starship Reckless

Note: Like anyone who’s breathing, I have been tracking the Phoenix Lander. So I thought this might be a good moment to share a personal memory of one of its ancestors. That one did not survive to fulfill its mission, but the dream stayed alive. What I said then is even more true today, almost a decade later. The Greek version of this article was published in the largest Greek daily, Eleftherotypia (Free Press).

Prometheus

Prometheus Stealing Fire by André Durand (cropped)

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May 28, 2008

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Mars, Stars And Life From Afar?)

Posted by in category: space

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 56th Carnival of Space!

My name is Darnell Clayton (of Colony Worlds) and welcome to the Lifeboat Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving civilization upon our fragile world (as well as expanding it off world if all else fails).

Feel free to explore around the site, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. Now without further ado, here is the Carnival of the Space Geeks!

NASA Phoenix Mars Lander

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May 8, 2008

XP Service Pack 3: An Existential Threat?

Posted by in category: rants

Bill Gates: Existential Threat?

Wow! I installed the XP Service Pack 3 yesterday after it was provided by the Windows Update feature and my computer crashed. I tried a few variations and did some investigations and couldn’t make it work. At least I was able to use a system restore point to keep the system alive. I should point out that I wasted hours on this as I had a variety of problems including the installation process just freezing up. (My computer is 100% solid, it passes a multi-hour memory test, etc.)

My investigations showed *many* people having serious problems with this service pack which is ridiculous since it shouldn’t be a big upgrade for people with fully updated XP Service Pack 2 setups as I had.

This plus the Vista disaster makes it rather likely that I will switch to a Macintosh for my next system. I have been using Microsoft operating systems on my PC since 1986 so this is a major thing to say. (Hey, my first computer was an Apple II+, so perhaps I am coming full circle…)

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May 6, 2008

Will Today’s Landfills Be Tomorrow’s Energy?

Posted by in category: sustainability

(Hat Tip: IsraGood)

Garbage. No matter where you go or how far you travel, it seems that every society has a means of acquiring it and dumping it in vast landfills–a fitting tribute towards humanities pursuit of a better future.

While recycling and “reducing” can help diminish the amount that goes into these trash havens, it may not be enough to counter the vast amount people throw away everyday.

Since convincing people to throw away less is a never ending battle (especially in this day and age), why not instead turn these “mountains” of garbage into energy?

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Apr 15, 2008

$153 million/city thin film plastic domes can protect against nuclear weapons and bad weather

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, defense, existential risks, habitats, lifeboat, military, nanotechnology, nuclear weapons, sustainability

Cross posted from Nextbigfuture

Click for larger image

I had previously looked at making two large concrete or nanomaterial monolithic or geodesic domes over cities which could protect a city from nuclear bombs.

Now Alexander Bolonkin has come up with a cheaper, technological easy and more practical approach with thin film inflatable domes. It not only would provide protection form nuclear devices it could be used to place high communication devices, windmill power and a lot of other money generating uses. The film mass covered of 1 km**2 of ground area is M1 = 2×10**6 mc = 600 tons/km**2 and film cost is $60,000/km**2.
The area of big city diameter 20 km is 314 km**2. Area of semi-spherical dome is 628 km2. The cost of Dome cover is 62.8 millions $US. We can take less the overpressure (p = 0.001atm) and decrease the cover cost in 5 – 7 times. The total cost of installation is about 30–90 million $US. Not only is it only about $153 million to protect a city it is cheaper than a geosynchronous satellite for high speed communications. Alexander Bolonkin’s website

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Apr 8, 2008

Disruptions from small recessions to extinctions

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, defense, existential risks, futurism, habitats, lifeboat, nanotechnology, space, sustainability

Cross posted from Next big future by Brian Wang, Lifeboat foundation director of Research

I am presenting disruption events for humans and also for biospheres and planets and where I can correlating them with historical frequency and scale.

There has been previous work on categorizing and classifying extinction events. There is Bostroms paper and there is also the work by Jamais Cascio and Michael Anissimov on classification and identifying risks (presented below).

A recent article discusses the inevtiable “end of societies” (it refers to civilizations but it seems to be referring more to things like the end of the roman empire, which still ends up later with Italy, Austria Hungary etc… emerging)

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