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Historical If 過去を振り返ること


こちらがEditorialです。もしダーウィンがいなかったらというDarwin Deletedという本は数年前に出たそうですが今回は別の歴史家が遺伝におけるメンデルの役割を見直します。nature always trumps nurtureというのは遺伝が環境よりも影響が大きいことを指しているのでしょう。nature or nurture(生まれか育ちか)は語感がいいのでペアでよく使われます。

Second thoughts
Revisiting the past can help to inform ideas of the present.

17 May 2016

What if Darwin had toppled overboard before he joined the evolutionary dots? That discussion seems useful, because it raises interesting questions about the state of knowledge, then and now, and how it is communicated and portrayed. In his 2013 book Darwin Deleted — in which the young Charles is, indeed, lost in a storm — the historian Peter Bowler argued that the theory of evolution would have emerged just so, but with the pieces perhaps placed in a different order, and therefore less antagonistic to religious society.

In this week’s World View, another historian offers an alternative pathway for science: what if the ideas of Gregor Mendel on the inheritance of traits had been challenged more robustly and more successfully by a rival interpretation by the scientist W. F. R. Weldon? Gregory Radick argues that a twentieth-century genetics driven more by Weldon’s emphasis on environmental context would have weakened the dominance of the current misleading impression that nature always trumps nurture.

Editorialの途中でIf the past is a foreign countryという見慣れない表現が使われていました。こういうのがあればその分野でよく言われていることや、有名な引用であるケースが多いですね。

Biologists may take issue with the methods, but the results seem less important than the fact that such an experiment could be performed at all. If the past is a foreign country, then it is also supposed to be one that cannot be revisited.

今回はL. P. Hartleyという作家の引用でした。

The Go-Between (1953)
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.


These ‘winners’ became dominant before all the criticisms against them were fully answered, which raises questions about why the debates went the way they did, and whether they could have gone otherwise — and if so, with what repercussions.

A well-informed interest in alternative scientific pasts can help us to take the actual past more seriously as a source of present-day insight. It can also help us to stay self-critical as we make choices in the present. Science without consensus would be chaos. But the price of consensus is eternal vigilance against complacency, and a willingness to contemplate the road otherwise not travelled.


Teach students the biology of their time
An experiment in genetics education reveals how Mendel’s legacy holds back the teaching of science, says Gregory Radick.

17 May 2016

Take genetics. The past year has seen prolonged celebrations of the work of Gregor Mendel, linked to the 150th anniversary of the paper that reported his experiments with hybrid peas. Mendel’s experiments are central to biology curricula across the world. By contrast, the criticisms levelled at Mendel’s ideas by W. F. R. Weldon, Linacre professor at the University of Oxford, UK, are a footnote.

From 1902, Weldon’s views brought him into increasingly bad-tempered conflict with Mendel’s followers. In basic terms, the Mendel­i­­­­ans believed that inherited factors (later called ‘genes’) determine the visible characters of an organism, whereas Weldon saw context — developmental and environmental — as being just as important, with its influence making characters variable in ways that Mendelians ignored. The Mendelians won — helped by Weldon’s sudden death in 1906, before he published his ideas fully — and the teaching of genetics has emphasized the primacy of the gene ever since.

The problem is that the Mendelian ‘genes for’ approach is increasingly seen as out of step with twenty-first-century biology. If we are to realize the potential of the genomic age, critics say, we must find new concepts and language better matched to variablebiological reality. This is important in education, where the reliance on simple examples may even promote an outmoded determinism




Recent warmer winters may be cooling climate change concern

April 20, 2016

The vast majority of Americans have experienced more favorable weather conditions over the past 40 years, researchers from New York University and Duke University have found. The trend is projected to reverse over the course of the coming century, but that shift may come too late to spur demands for policy responses to address climate change.

The analysis, published in the journal Nature, found that 80 percent of Americans live in counties where the weather is more pleasant than four decades ago. Winter temperatures have risen substantially throughout the United States since the 1970s, but summers have not become markedly more uncomfortable. The result is that weather has shifted toward a temperate year-round climate that Americans have been demonstrated to prefer.

念のためNatureに発表されたものも抜粋します。PodcastにMegan Mullinさんが出てお話しされていました。14分くらいです。スカンジナビアでは気温は温厚になっているが環境問題の意識は高いというツッコミを受けていました。確かにこういう研究は結論ありきのものになりがちです。

Recent improvement and projected worsening of weather in the United States
• Patrick J. Egan & Megan Mullin
Nature 532, 357–360 (21 April 2016) doi:10.1038/nature17441

Received 30 March 2015 Accepted 16 February 2016 Published online 20 April 2016

Our results have implications for the public’s understanding of the climate change problem, which is shaped in part by experiences with local weather15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. Whereas weather patterns in recent decades have served as a poor source of motivation for Americans to demand a policy response to climate change, public concern may rise once people’s everyday experiences of climate change effects start to become less pleasant.


To quantify how Americans are evaluating these changes, Egan and Mullin drew upon research by economists examining weather’s role in growth of the Sun Belt and population declines in the Northeast and Midwest. Using these findings, they developed a metric of the average American’s preferences about weather. This “weather preference index” (WPI) reflects the U.S. public’s preferences for places with warmer temperatures in winter and cooler temperatures and lower humidity in summer. The index also takes into account preferences about precipitation. Egan and Mullin found that WPI scores have risen in counties accounting for 80 percent of the U.S. population since the 1970s.
But projections of future temperatures—and future WPI scores—offer a markedly different picture. Climate change models predict that under all potential levels of future warming, average summer temperatures will ultimately rise at a faster rate than winter temperatures. Using these projections, the researchers calculated that under a severe warming scenario, WPI scores will decline such that an estimated 88 percent of the U.S. public will experience less pleasant weather at the end of this century than it has in the past 40 years.




Should you edit your children’s genes?
In the fierce debate about CRISPR gene editing, it’s time to give patients a voice.

Erika Check Hayden
23 February 2016

Many safety, technical and legal barriers still stand in the way of editing DNA in human embryos. But some scientists and ethicists say that it is important to think through the implications of embryo editing now — before these practical hurdles are overcome. What sort of world would these procedures create for those currently living with disease and for future generations?
So far, little has been heard from the people who could be first affected by the technology — but speaking with these communities reveals a diverse set of views. Some are impatient, and say that there is a duty to use genome editing quickly to eliminate serious, potentially fatal conditions. Some doubt that society will embrace it to the degree that many have feared, or hoped. Above all, people such as Ethan Weiss caution that if policymakers do not consult people with disabilities and their families, the technology could be used unthinkingly, in ways that harm patients and society, today and in the future.
“Hearing the voices of people who live with these conditions is really important,” says Tom Shakespeare, a medical sociologist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.


‘Imbeciles’ and ‘Illiberal Reformers’

America in the early 20th century was awash in reform. As giant corporations took root, so too did calls to check their power. Laws were passed setting maximum hours and minimum ­wages, limiting child labor, preserving natural resources and breaking up the “trusts” that were said to be destroying fair competition. Not all of these laws worked out as planned, and some were eviscerated in the courts. But a new force had been unleashed, aiming to serve the greater good not by destroying big business but by curbing its abuses.
Progressivism was always more than a single cause, however. Attracting reformers of all stripes, it aimed to fix the ills of society through increased government action — the “administrative state.” Progressives pushed measures ranging from immigration restriction to eugenics in a grotesque attempt to protect the nation’s gene pool by keeping the “lesser classes” from reproducing. If one part of progressivism emphasized fairness and compassion, the other reeked of bigotry and coercion.

Fresh Airのインタビューではっとしたのは、アンネの日記のアンネのお父さんはアメリカ大使館にビザ申請をしていたが断られたという話。アメリカでもユダヤは劣った人種という考えがあったと指摘しています。アメリカの移民法や優生思想の研究をヒトラーは絶賛していたそうですね。ホロコーストはやむをえなかったというつもりはありませんが、時代の空気とは不可分ではなくアメリカだって同じような空気を吸っていたことがわかります。






/2016年03月15日 15時49分(読売新聞)


Cover Story: 特集:どちらを向いてもCRISPRばかり:遺伝子編集時代の夜明けブックマーク
Nature 531, 7593



Gene intelligence
The risks and rewards of genome editing resonate beyond the clinic.

09 March 2016


CRISPR everywhere
A special issue explores what it means to be living in an age of gene editing.

09 March 2016




Moore’s Law, the theory that the speed and power of microchips will double every two years, is, as Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson posit in their book, “The Second Machine Age,” so relentlessly increasing the power of software, computers and robots that they’re now replacing many more traditional white- and blue-collar jobs, while spinning off new ones — all of which require more skills.


The chips are down for Moore’s law
The semiconductor industry will soon abandon its pursuit of Moore's law. Now things could get a lot more interesting.

M. Mitchell Waldrop
09 February 2016

Next month, the worldwide semiconductor industry will formally acknowledge what has become increasingly obvious to everyone involved: Moore's law, the principle that has powered the information-technology revolution since the 1960s, is nearing its end.

A rule of thumb that has come to dominate computing, Moore's law states that the number of transistors on a microprocessor chip will double every two years or so — which has generally meant that the chip's performance will, too. The exponential improvement that the law describes transformed the first crude home computers of the 1970s into the sophisticated machines of the 1980s and 1990s, and from there gave rise to high-speed Internet, smartphones and the wired-up cars, refrigerators and thermostats that are becoming prevalent today.

None of this was inevitable: chipmakers deliberately chose to stay on the Moore's law track. At every stage, software developers came up with applications that strained the capabilities of existing chips; consumers asked more of their devices; and manufacturers rushed to meet that demand with next-generation chips. Since the 1990s, in fact, the semiconductor industry has released a research road map every two years to coordinate what its hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers are doing to stay in step with the law — a strategy sometimes called More Moore. It has been largely thanks to this road map that computers have followed the law's exponential demands.


Heat death
The first stumbling block was not unexpected. Gargini and others had warned about it as far back as 1989. But it hit hard nonetheless: things got too small.
“It used to be that whenever we would scale to smaller feature size, good things happened automatically,” says Bill Bottoms, president of Third Millennium Test Solutions, an equipment manufacturer in Santa Clara. “The chips would go faster and consume less power.”


Going mobile
The second stumbling block for Moore's law was more of a surprise, but unfolded at roughly the same time as the first: computing went mobile.
Twenty-five years ago, computing was defined by the needs of desktop and laptop machines; supercomputers and data centres used essentially the same microprocessors, just packed together in much greater numbers. Not any more. Today, computing is increasingly defined by what high-end smartphones and tablets do — not to mention by smart watches and other wearables, as well as by the exploding number of smart devices in everything from bridges to the human body. And these mobile devices have priorities very different from those of their more sedentary cousins.


Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits

まあ自らMoore’s Lawと命名するわけではないのでここにはそんな言葉は書いてありませんが。。。(苦笑)