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I am now a bioengineer!

I created this blog when I was a junior in high school in English class, before I knew a lot about engineering. I am now halfway through my junior year of engineering undergraduate coursework in the field of bioengineering. I remembered this blog recently and decided to check on it and see if anybody was responding to it, and I was quite please with the number of hits it’s gotten! I’m considering to get back into this blog, and use it talk about the cool things I learn about in class and in my research lab.

Engineering is the passion of my life, and I love to share that with people!


Well, I suppose we can put our brains in robots.

WE WILL HAVE THE OPTION

Before we have the option of harvesting from a clone, before we are taken over by robots, before our generation is gone, we will have the option.

Something that will not take long to develope will be the introduction of life-preserving robots.  The opposite of becoming a “vegetable” while close to death, the mind would be preserved, while the body perishes. Simple cell regeneration would be necessary to keep the brain functioning, something easily provided with an application of stem cells.  The brain would be set in a robotic body that it controlled.  You could live, forever.
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An ethical question: is it worth it?  You will have thoughts, but you would not have a body.  It is hard to say if you would preserve any of your humanity, or if you would simply become a part of the machine. But as I’ve mentioned a many time before, our minds can control machines.  And that is amazing.

This is mankind’s greatest wish come true.  To live indefinitly.  Although it is not in the most desired way, you cannot feel.  This is why stem cell research is necessary, so that we may keep our bodies longer,  but not forever.  The simple application of stem cells to cure disease and regenerate body tissue would be enough to extend our life span.  A much easier ethical question.


Artificial Intelligence

So another myth: A.I. Oh Will Smith, he tends to seek out the end of the world. PhotobucketThere are again, countless movies that entail robots developing not only thoughts, but also emotion, and organization. I Robot, The Matrix, A.I.,  and now even disney has bought in with an animated kid’s movie based off of a lonely robot. In these movies our society seems to throw all it knows into computer data bases, begins to rely on these machines as the only way of functioning, and then, the machines learn how to function. Again, another fear, and again, yes, based on reality.

The development: Being able to move objects soley with our brain waves. Begin to think about it.  Yes, it is revolutionary, but then thoughts travel to “it makes sense”, we have brain waves that tell our body what to do, could we not plug into our brain and simply bypass the body? So it makes sense. But then think about what this entails: We could plug ourselves in, and never have to use our bodies.  Simply by thinking we would get things done.  “Going to work” would be the act of plugging, and “a hard day’s work” would be the mass of actions the robots attached to your brain accomplished. We would not type, for our thoughts would be automatically documented. But this would just be a step. Eventually, you would not want to unplug.  The pleasures one amasses from simply laying and thinking would far out weigh the natural human desires of companionship and exploration. Our minds would seperate from our bodies, become two destinct plains of engagement. Photobucket

Our minds would completely cross over into radio waves and micropulses that only contol what is technological.  Robots would never develop emotion, their one goal would be (as ours is) to reproduce. They would need to survive and develop as our society is doing now.  The Matrix outlines robots developing humans as the primary energy resource. That is why the matrix is created, to keep the human mind subdued while the body is serving its purpose.

Robots could, however, develop thought and free action.  I’m not sure the classification of “thought” would suffice, not being able to analyize the actual action.  Their reasoning would be completely deductive, their decisions based soley on what is true and scientific. Their “thoughts” based on survival. AI could develop to a point where we are their crop, we are their energy.  The human species could become so physically weak, and so mentally absent, that the loss of humanity wouldn’t have as destinct barriers as it does not. Photobucket

Again, we can prevent this. We do not have to become machines. We do not have to lose our humanity.  I believe that the technological advancement will find appropriate roles in our society, some that we could never forsee, but it would still be OUR society.  Machines will not infiltrate our minds if we still control them ourselves.

 

Science Daily-  http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/computers_math/artificial_intelligence/

USC Robotics Research- http://robotics.usc.edu/?l=Home:index

Artificial Intelligence official site- http://ai-depot.com/

AI the movie- http://aimovie.warnerbros.com/


Viral pandemic

We’ve all seen at least one movie, for they’re not uncommon (I am Legend, 28 days later, Resident Evil) where a human invents a disease, and because of the interconnectedness of our society everybody is exposed and is contaminated.  These movies go on to outline the effects of the disease being a savage need to eat other humans.  Sometimes these are the dead bodies (zombies) or the human is simply mutated into a savage beast-like version of a human. But really, could these simply be fantasy?  All fears are based on the fact that the scenario might actually happen. And yes, by the way, it could.

The fact is, this is entirely possible.  Bio-engineering could create a virus, that because it being unnative to our planet’s natural ecosystem, would find no boundaries when infecting hosts.  It’s also entirely possible for this virus to have “zombie” symptoms.  The reason for inventing a virus with this potential varies movie to movie, from curing cancer to creating a biological weapon. The purpose for this virus would lead towards creating a superhuman, purely killing humans,  or killing a mutated set of human cells.
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A virus made to improve men for combat that could permanently change a human into a stronger, faster, less pain stricken being would obviously lend itself towards creating beast-like behavior.   That and its effects being permanent would cause a mutated strand of this virus to have devastating effects. The “beast” may act as the people in 28 days later and I am legend did.
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A virus could reanimate a body, if it figured how to infect the brain and control it.  To reproduce viruses must take over a living cell and manipulate it’s functioning organelles to manufacture new viruses.  If super-viruses figured how to work as a team, they could easily take over an entire human body to help in the hunt for another host.

A biological weapon is meant to kill.  Zombies are dead.  In Resident Evil they create a virus that is meant to kill but a side effect is that the bodies wish to eat humans after their death.  Sadly, a desire of the people of our planet is to wage war against each other.  This fact and the point that a virus could animate a body supports the fact that we could have a zombie outbreak.

So now that it is known that it is physically possible for this virus to exist, what really is there for us to do?  All we can do is hope that as we survived the advancement of nuclear technology, that we can survive this.  That although we have the knowledge and technology, and it could be useful when waging war, we will not threaten humanity with it.  Our globe is shrinking.  Our cultures are less diverse.  We’ve been exposed to most diseases and have the same immunities.  One virus could kill us all.

UCBerkeley- http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/alllife/virus.html

 Microde World- http://www.microbeworld.org/microbes/virus/

Pandemic Influenza- http://www.influenza.gc.ca/ai-ga_e.html

Official I am Legend site- http://iamlegend.warnerbros.com/


I love technology, but not as much as you, you see

In its essence technology is progress. It is the development of the human race’s ability to provide for itself and create new institutions.  Every invention, creation, evolution in our society is considered modern technology, it is considered progress. It is the movement forward, it is the material security we strive for, it allows for us to move closer to not having to worry about the basic needs for life and instead seek out creative, emotional, and social endeavors to fill our time on earth.

prog·ress  [n. prog-res, -ruhs or, especially Brit., proh-gres; v. pruhgres] –noun

1. a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage: the progress of a student toward a degree.
2. developmental activity in science, technology, etc., esp. with reference to the commercial opportunities created thereby or to the promotion of the material well-being of the public through the goods, techniques, or facilities created.
3. advancement in general.
4. growth or development; continuous improvement: He shows progress in his muscular coordination.
5. the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level.

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In the beginning it was the basic tool.  The hammer for crushing, the stick to hit with. Ah, the opposable thumb, it has served us well. Then the cliche of the wheel led us into the age of invention.  Where technologies evolved into complex creations, involving more than one medium.  An article of immense inspiration for myself is the roman aqueduct. Romans, 2000 years ago, managed to create these stone, arched, beautiful structures, that were inclined so slightly that water managed to flow downhill for miles into their cities.  These provided water. Now, the Roman’s could worry about how to heat the water to create the Roman baths, or how to arrange the sculptures around the bath for the greatest aesthetic appeal. PhotobucketThis is progress.

The human race has adventured through many centuries of experimenting, developing, and creating methods for improving human life. “Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress.” -Thomas Edison. If Edison believed that there was nothing left to improve on in our society he would not have developed the light bulb, our first effective system for distributing clean power world wide, or the world’s first research and development facility. “I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in the terms of the service it might give others.”-TE. You see, it is not about the technology itself. It’s not about the electrical current that flows from the brain of a disabled person, Photobucketor that lights up a light bulb, or that powers you computer right now; it’s not about the design of the building, or the car, or the bridge it travels over.  The physical aspects of engineering, or technology, are not its essence. The essence of these things, is progress, the service it might give to others. The help it provides for the sick, the ease it provides for the busy, the opportunities it provides for the loving, these are its features. Many say that technology is itself the enemy of humanity, when in fact it is the only thing that has allowed it to develop.

Always and forever.

 

definition of progress- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/progress

quotes of Thomas Edison – www.sysprog.net/quotprog.html

info on Edison- http://www.thomasedison.com/index.html

Song (title and conclusion)- Napolean Dynamite (movie)


Circle Time!

Circles are the idyllic shape. They’re symmetrical, they have no beginning or end, and their applications in the world are endless.  The definition of a circle is all points a set distance from a center point.  This symmetry and equivolency lets us use circles as a tool for constructing perfect right angles, they let us scope a likely perimeter when hunting for escaped criminals, they allow us to calculate the epicenter of an earthquake, and seriously, who doesn’t love a perfect pokkadot?  While learning basic calculus I realized a groundbreaking truth: that the circumference of a circle is the derivative of its area. The basic formula that we are taught to swear by starting in grade 5 had betrayed me.  The idea that formulas are just grabbed out of thin air and simply work was taken from me.  Teaching me the simple truth that there are no simple truths, my mind has not stopped buzzzing since this accident.  Everything is interconnected. 

Specifically about the circle: many secondary math students will realize this connection and wonder about it’s meaning.  Really there is no deep “meaning”, rather there is a common connection between this realization and the teachings of Calculus. An integral is the area under a curve or graph, or the antiderivative of the function.  Shown above is the estimation of the area of a circle using a Riemann Sum, which is the estimate of its integral. The area of a circle is the area under the curve of a circle ‘s circumference (achieved graphically by breaking a circle into two equations) therefore making the area the antiderivative of the area, and the circumference the derivative of the area.  The chain rule for derivatives can then be applyed giving 2(pi)r as the derivative of (pi)r^2.  Everything is interconnected.

 The establishment of this fact is evident in many, or all, aspects of life.  The simple thought that if one spends one’s time eating, then one is not cleaning, working, or creating, thus rendering the act of eating connected to cleaning etc. In the world of technology great care is taken to create progress in the connectness of the disciplines.  Bioengineers need electrical engineers to formulate a way to start the heart.  Civil engineers need mechanical bouldozers to create their projects.  Buisnesses need these buildings to operate; society needs the product of the business in their daily life, and the economy needs the stimulation of consumption. You cannot isolate yourself in your one interest or discipline and expect to flourish alone.  Everything is interconnected.

Source: http://www.dictionary.com