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The Doomsday Seed Vault

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:46 pm
by Walden2
Gates Grant To Help Poor Countries Contribute To Doomsday Seed Vault

The seed vault in Norway will not flood if Greenland’s ice sheet melts, which some estimate would increase sea levels by seven meters (23 feet).

by Staff Writers

Rome (AFP) Apr 20, 2007

A Gates Foundation grant will help developing countries send the seeds of “critical” food crops to a doomsday seed vault in an Arctic deep freeze, the recipients said Thursday.

“The fight against hunger cannot be won without securing fast-disappearing crop biodiversity,” the Global Crop Diversity Trust and its partner the UN Foundation said in announcing the grant of 30 million dollars (22 million euros).

Part of the grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to which the Norwegian government added 7.5 million dollars in matching funds, will go towards helping poor countries send seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a statement said.

The so-called “Noah’s Ark of food” near the North Pole will store at least 450,000 seed samples at a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius (minus 0.4 Fahrenheit).

Full story here:

http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Gates ... t_999.html

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:43 pm
by Windwalker
London's Kew Gardens is doing a similar project: Kew plant vault

It sounds smaller-scale than the Gates effort: by 2010 they will have 10% of all plants represented, by 2020 they hope to have 25%. But every bit counts, and some species in their collection have gone extinct in the wild.

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:15 pm
by intrigued_scribe
Windwalker wrote:

But every bit counts, and some species in their collection have gone extinct in the wild.


I agree, especially where the preservation of the otherwise extinct species--right along with the contribution to solutions to hunger--is concerned.

Heather

Posted: Thu May 03, 2007 9:29 am
by rocketscientist
Very interesting link Walden2. Thanks for posting!

Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 11:13 pm
by Walden2
New New Yorker article on George Bell's efforts to record
his entire life:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007 ... _wilkinson

Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 11:25 pm
by Windwalker
Yikes! If this becomes common, who will have time for anything else, including thinking, or even going to the beach?!

DNA as the ultimate information storage device?

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:22 am
by Walden2
To quote:

Using the same code that computer keyboards use, the Japanese group, led by Masaru Tomita of Keio University, wrote four copies of Albert Einstein’s famous formula, E=mc2, along with “1905,” the date that the young Einstein derived it, into the bacterium’s genome, the 400-million-long string of A’s, G’s, T’s and C’s that determine everything the little bug is and everything it’s ever going to be.

The point was not to celebrate Einstein. The feat, they said in a paper published in the journal Biotechnology Progress, was a demonstration of DNA as the ultimate information storage material, able to withstand floods, terrorism, time and the changing fashions in technology, not to mention the ability to be imprinted with little unobtrusive trademark labels — little “Made by Monsanto” tags, say.

Full article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/26/science/26DNA.html


See also this figure and caption:

http://www.coseti.org/images/lefig_3.gif

FIGURE 3: Nakamura (1986) examined the DNA structure of the SV40 virus. In (a) is shown a part of the genetic structure that the author considered to be a star map. In (b) is a representation of the map of the constellation Eridani.

References:

Nakamura, H., SV40 DNA: A Message from Epsilon-Eridani?, Acta
Astronautica, vol. 13, no. 9, pp. 573-578, 1986

Yokoo, H., and Oshima, T., Is Bacteriophage Phi X 174 DNA a
Message from an ETI?, Icarus, vol. 38, pp. 148-153, 1979

Excerpt quote:

“There have been some speculations that a simple biological system carrying a message and capable of self-replication in suitable environments may be one possible channel for interstellar communication (Yokoo and Oshima, 1979, and Nakamura, 1986). These kinds of ideas have several and severe objections. For example, the impossibility of predicting the environment of the target star in order to favor the self-replication of the molecular structure, the impossibility of avoiding the destruction of the content of the message by molecular mutations, and the impossibility for us to distinguish between a “natural” organism and a real biological interstellar message.”

The full article here:

http://www.coseti.org/lemarch1.htm


Joe Davis is a scientist and artist in residence at MIT. Among other
things he has promoted the idea of ETI sending messages via DNA
through interstellar dust spread about the galaxy. He has also placed
various artworks in the DNA of microbes - see the SciAM article
linked to this page below:

http://www.viewingspace.com/genetics_cu ... is_joe.htm

Re: DNA as the ultimate information storage device?

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:02 am
by Windwalker
Walden2 wrote:The feat, they said in a paper published in the journal Biotechnology Progress, was a demonstration of DNA as the ultimate information storage material, able to withstand floods, terrorism, time and the changing fashions in technology.

“There have been some speculations that a simple biological system carrying a message and capable of self-replication in suitable environments may be one possible channel for interstellar communication (Yokoo and Oshima, 1979, and Nakamura, 1986). These kinds of ideas have several and severe objections.”

The NYT article is excellent. There is no question that DNA is capable of carrying a huge amount of information in a compact format at several levels. As I said in my book, it's like having a text that can be read simultaneously in Russian, Chinese, Maori, Navajo and Swahili. At the same time, it is obviously also a haphazard warehouse of older information -- it's jury-rigged, rather than optimized (if it were optimized, it could easily be backed into a corner when the context changed).

When I get better, I plan to write an essay about these issues.

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 9:29 pm
by Walden2
The first Library on Mars is on its way with Phoenix.

You can read about the Visions of Mars DVD here:

http://www.planetary.org/programs/proje ... s/vom.html

Even if something happens to Phoenix, hopefully the disk will
survive long enough for future explorers to find and play it. The
disk may even have items lost by that time which our descendants
would not have otherwise.

This is why I advocate putting some kind of significant message
on every deep space mission, more than the gimmick of lots of
signatures, to be sure.

For example: The Rosetta mission to land a probe on a comet
in 2014 carries a disk with thousands of human languages on it,
more than a few of which may be otherwise extinct by the time
it is found. Future historians, linguists, and certain cultures will
be very grateful they were preserved in this manner, away from
our planet and its long record of destroying the past.

http://www.rosettaproject.org/

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:14 am
by Windwalker
Walden2 wrote:This is why I advocate putting some kind of significant message on every deep space mission.

I agree with you about putting messages on every deep space mission. The question is what format to choose. If we use a sophisticated medium of a specific era, we may not even be able to read it ourselves a few generations from now, let alone aliens being able to decode it (examples: 8-track tapes, microfiches). In the end, stone tablets or their equivalent may be the best in terms of communicating basic facts -- that we exist and have attained spaceflight capacity.

The other question -- whether we should advertise our presence, which is the METI issue -- is also on the table, but moot by now, since we have already sent that information.

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:09 pm
by Windwalker
Speaking of preservation and the future of civilization, I have read two very different but equally extraordinary books that touch upon this issue: Against the Grain by Oliver Manning, and The World without Us by Alan Weisman.

The first argues (very convincingly) that although agriculture may have made our present form of civilization possible, it may not have been a good thing for either humanity or the planet in the long run -- not to mention the status of women!

The second showcases how long it would take for the traces of human presence to disappear if anything should happen to us (a pandemic, for example).

Both are beautifully written, full of interesting facts and ideas -- and they really make you think.

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:22 pm
by Walden2
In Case of Apocalypse Later, a Plan
to Ensure America's Regreening

New York Times August 8, 2007

*************************

The Millennium Seed Bank Project,
run by the Royal Botanical Garden,
in Kew, England, aims to collect
seeds from 10 percent of the world's
flowering plant species and to stow
them in a sort of climate-controlled
Noah's Ark against the possibility
of depletion, whether by climate
change, alien-species invasion,
overdevelopment or apocalypse. The...

http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRed ... 12&m=25748

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 1:02 pm
by Windwalker
Along doomsday lines, a very unusual book came out that examines in detail what will happen to the world if humans go suddenly extinct -- whether by neutron bomb or Rupture (climate, flora, fauna, and the changes and artifacts wrought by the human presence). It is The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.

An equally fascinating such glimpse (though done in a fictional context) occurs in Martin Cruz Smith's fifth Arkady Renko novel, Wolves Eat Dogs. I'm not a great fan of mystery/espionage novels, but Martin Cruz Smith and John le Carré are prominent exceptions (as are the early P.D. James and the late Dorothy Sayers).

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 6:04 pm
by Walden2
'The World Without Us'

By ALAN WEISMAN

Reviewed by JENNIFER SCHUESSLER

What would happen if Earth's most invasive species -- humans
-- were wiped out?

Review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/books ... 8bu&emc=bu

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:25 am
by Walden2
'Doomsday Vault’ Prepares to Open

One of the things I like about Norway is that the government there requires at least one percent of public building budgets be devoted to artwork. Thus the plan for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is designed as a hedge against planetary catastrophe. At the Spitsbergen site near the town of Longyearbyen, highly polished metal sheets installed on the roof and front of the entrance portal will create a sparkling sculpture visible for miles around, lit by the Sun or by fiber-optics during the long Arctic winters.

Full article here:

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=1589