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Thursday, May 31, 2007Escapism?
Ask ten gamers how they got into gaming, and you are likely to hear the recital of ten markedly different sequences of events. All gamers have some sort of recollection of how they were initiated into this virtual 'club,' but beyond that, one might speculate as to what keeps them in the game. Why, exactly, do people play video games?
Of course, games are meant to be fun. Gamers most often pick up a game in hopes of enjoying the use of that particular piece of software. If a game does not satisfy the basic human desire to experience pleasant stimuli at least some of the time, it is not likely to be embraced by an incredibly large audience. Any evidence to the contrary, although extant in a few cases, is unfortunate information to discover. Realistically, who wants to play a game that they don't even enjoy?
Enjoyment comes in many flavors, however. What is a pleasurable experience to one may be utter hell to another. For example, certain gamers can't get enough of the grind of RPGs, where each slaughtering of the many repetitively-encountered enemies strikes their pleasure centers with loving ferocity. To others, the mere thought of this process is much akin to a night in the torture rack. Someone like this may prefer the feeling of an intense firefight, frantically ducking and dodging from one area of cover to the next, all the while enjoying a rush of adrenaline that manages to get them high for the duration of the gameplay session. Our RPG-playing friend might look at this, and quickly dismiss it as...boring and repetitive.
Think Over it..
A new generation of scientific mavericks is not content to merely tinker with life's genetic code. They want to rewrite it from scratch.
It last happened about 3.6 billion years ago. a tiny living cell emerged from the dust of the Earth. It replicated itself, and its progeny replicated themselves, and so on, with genetic twists and turns down through billions of generations. Today every living organism—every person, plant, animal and microbe—can trace its heritage back to that first cell. Earth's extended family is the only kind of life that we've observed, so far, in the universe.
This pantheon of living organisms is about to get some newcomers—and we're not talking about extraterrestrials. Scientists in the last couple of years have been trying to create novel forms of life from scratch. They've forged chemicals into synthetic DNA, the DNA into genes, genes into genomes, and built the molecular machinery of completely new organisms in the lab—organisms that are nothing like anything nature has produced.
The people who are defying Nature's monopoly on creation are a loose collection of engineers, computer scientists, physicists and chemists who look at life quite differently than traditional biologists do. Harvard professor George Church wants "to do for biology what Intel does for electronics"—namely, making biological parts that can be assembled into organisms, which in turn can perform any imaginable biological activity. Jay Keasling at UC Berkeley received $42 million from Bill Gates to create living microfactories that manufacture a powerful antimalaria agent. And then there's Craig Venter, the legendary biotech entrepreneur who made his name by decoding the human genome for a tenth of the predicted cost and in a tenth of the predicted time. Venter has put tens of millions of dollars of his own money into Synthetic Genomics, a start-up, to make artificial organisms that convert sunlight into biofuel, with minimal environmental impact and zero net release of greenhouse gases. These organisms, he says, will "replace the petrochemical industry, most food, clean energy and bioremediation."
The notion of creating life in the lab has plenty of detractors. Some scientists aren't convinced it can be done, and religious leaders and environmentalists have expressed their dismay at the idea of tinkering with life (even if it's artificial). Despite the opposition, the researchers who work in the field, which is known as Synthetic Biology, have a disarming casualness about their work—almost as though they were building machines, rather than living things. Indeed, the guiding principle of the field is a conceptualization of living cells as complex computing machines that have the capacity to replicate themselves. The computing analogy for what goes on inside living cells isn't new. Ever since James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the DNA double helix in 1953, molecular biologists have found it useful to imagine genes as software controlling hardware (the cell itself). But SynBio practitioners take the comparison to a new level: they are creating new hardware and software where none existed. SynBio is "oriented to the intentional design, modeling, construction, debugging and testing of artificial living systems," says Tom Knight, a professor at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab who now focuses his engineering on microbes. "The genetic code is 3.6 billion years old. It's time for a rewrite."
GATHERING reliable data on sex is notoriously tricky. Two years ago Durex, a company that makes contraceptives, surveyed more than 300,000 people in 41 countries, asking them about their sexual habits. The intriguing results suggest that Turks are the least faithful to their partners while Israelis are the least likely to stray. On average, around the world, one-in-five people has affairs, with Americans (deterred by the film Fatal Attraction?) and Britons slightly less likely to cheat and the French and the Nordics more likely to do so. Of course, the survey may just as well be a measure of varying levels of honesty in the different countries.
A 4-year-old British boy who released a balloon with a message hoping to find a pen pal in a foreign land ended up having a correspondence with the Queen.
Tom Stancombe let go of his helium balloon in Hampshire, west of London, but rather than flying across to France or half way around the world, it ended up just 20 miles away, landing inside Windsor Castle, the Daily Mail reported.
The Queen instructed her personal assistant to reply and so the monarch and the boy, helped by his parents, exchanged a series of letters, mostly about the fact that one of the boy's ancestors, an artist, had works in the royal art collection.
"She (the Queen) was delighted to find that your balloon had traveled all the way to the gardens at Windsor Castle," the monarch's assistant wrot
Asked if he thought his son would be exchanging any more letters with the Queen, Tom's father said: "I don't expect we'll get another one, but I think it's incredible they bothered replying at all."
In the spirit of Lindsay Lohan Week here on the blog, let us take a closer look at the Dina Lohans of the world, the madmen and women who actually created these party monsters: Hollywood Parents. Luckily, E!’s new show Sunset Tan has given us a PERFECT specimen in this must-see video segment, which is just about the most horrifying and depressing indicment of our culture as I’ve ever seen. In fact, there is so much just completely wrong with this clip that we’ve included video footnotes that correspond to our “help us understand this” list below. Someday, historians are going to look back at this clip and regard it as the definitive explanation of the downfall of Western Civilization.
See Video at:http://www.bestweekever.tv/2007/05/30/unemployment-check-this-video-contains-all-the-reasons-why-our-society-is-doomed/