To Kill an Android

Back when the first-generation iPad was released, Apple somehow opened the world to new computing possibilities through tablets. And, like any Apple release, this created a market with a solid number. As an attempt to enter the market, Samsung released a 7-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab built with Google’s Android.

However, it is visible enough that its release didn’t put a serious dent on Apple’s market share. Other tablets were released but Apple still managed to hold onto their share of about 70-80%.

Last Friday, a rather tragic day because of the earthquake an tsunami in Japan, Apple released its new-generation “Thinner. Lighter. Faster.” iPad 2. But what’s more amazing is that they managed to price it starting $499. With all the features, upgrades, specs, and, more importantly, fixes they are boasting, it is such a wonder that the device manage to end-up having that price. Given the price that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab has, it is almost foolish to opt for it over the iPad 2.

Sources state that it costs Apple about $340 to make the most basic model. This doesn’t include marketing, promotion, etc. Basically, it is a give-away. Apple reasons that it is the App Store that more than covers everything. Still, it raises the question whether Apple created the iPad 2 as an attempt to kill the Android.

This only not questions the Android platform but also the general future of tablet computing. Samsung’s new 11-inch tablet will have a very questionable fate given what already is and the possible market price.

As it stands, it would seem as if Apple is attempting to monopolize a market that it already holds the majority of. We can only wonder, and hope for something good, what any competition can come up with to even be called “competition”.

Playing God

Almost three years ago I wrote an article, “On human-whatever-species-else hybrids” and in it I posed a question that states, “Can the evince of both species features be manipulated?”. A year later, I wrote another article on a similar topic, “On human-avian hybrids“. In it I managed to cite the “latest” on research on human-animal hybrids.

nucleus of a cow eggThe two articles somehow contradicted each other as one cites the creation of a 32-celled human-bovine embryo while the other one cites a quote that leans to the impossibility of combination. Today, almost two years later, the top search result on Google on this topic is an article from two years ago. The article is not even about a group which aims to create recombinant species but for medicine – their goal is “the development of new therapies for debilitating human conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke”. Clearly, not much progress has been made in this area of science.

Then again, we can’t know about “top-secret” and “highly confidential” information using the surface of the web.

So, now the question goes down from whether it will be possible to control the evince of the species features to whether it will be possible to create a complete recombinant creature. As from before, there can be two sides to ask from.

First, the highly biblical people. Recombinant lifeforms are creatures which are never mentioned in the Bible. Therefore, if we ask some of them, as I have done, they will simply cite verses in the Bible that states something about creatures reproducing according to its kind. Also, they will cite about there only being one Creator and that Creator is not among humans. Therefore, it won’t be possible for recombinant creatures to have existed or to be created.

Second, the highly scientific people. From the 1960’s, when recombinant DNA technology first emerged, various research by numerous teams have been conducted that lead to the improvement of knowledge about DNA and its applications. It used to be that every attempt at recombination was a failure. But further research discovered significant components of the DNA that lead to the possibility of injecting foreign genes to an organism, either to add to its intrinsic value, to its aesthetic value, or, in a very straight-forward thought, to try to learn more about it and improve techniques.

As with combining different species, Leslie Pray of Nature Education in the article Recombinant DNA Technology and Transgenic Animals states,

The first actual recombinant animal cells weren’t developed until about a decade after the research conducted by Berg’s team, and most of the early studies involved mouse cells. In 1981, for example, Franklin Costantini and Elizabeth Lacy of the University of Oxford introduced rabbit DNA fragments containing the adult beta globin gene into murine (mouse) germ-line cells. (The beta globins are a family of polypeptides that serve as the subunits of hemoglobin molecules.) Another group of scientists had demonstrated that foreign genes could be successfully integrated into murine somatic cells, but this was the first demonstration of their integration into germ cells. In other words, Costantini and Lacy were the first to engineer an entire recombinant animal (albeit with relatively low efficiency).

Since these early studies, scientists have used recombinant DNA technologies to create many different types of recombinant animals, both for scientific study and for the profitable manufacturing of human proteins. For instance, mice, goats, and cows have all been engineered to create medically valuable proteins in their milk; moreover, hormones that were once isolated only in small amounts from human cadavers can now be mass-produced by genetically engineered cells. In fact, the entire biotechnology industry is based upon the ability to add new genes to cells, plants, and animals. As scientists discover important new proteins and genes, these technologies will continue to form the foundation of future generations of discoveries and medical advances.

However, as is always the case with new technology, various questions, ranging from the purely scientific to the ethical and moral, arise to challenge such knowledge. And, to quote from the same article above,

Interestingly, not long after the publication of his team’s 1972 study, Paul Berg led a voluntary moratorium in the scientific community against certain types of recombinant DNA research. Clearly, scientists have always been aware that the ability to manipulate the genome and mix and match genes from different organisms, even different species, raises immediate and serious questions about the potential hazards and risks of doing so — implications still being debated today.

Yes, they talk of “mice, goats, and cows” but, apparently, I was wrong and, in the world of science, more specifically, in biotechnology, it may not be long before we could see people and institutions such as the ones described in James Patterson’s Maximum Ride. The question is, are we willing to take the risks that inevitably come with playing the role of the creator?

Unusual Air

I got these photos from a news from Yahoo! and a link to LiveScience

“Unusual Air” cuz the photos are of weather.

The first one is from a June 20, 2006 photo. They say this one deserves to be made into a new cloud type.  The clouds seem to be straight from a Sci-fi movie but according to the news, it’s a real photo. You be the judge.

"It looked like Armageddon," said Wiggins, a paralegal and amateur photographer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "The shadows of the clouds, the lights and the darks, and the greenish-yellow backdrop. They seemed to change."

"It looked like Armageddon," said Wiggins, a paralegal and amateur photographer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "The shadows of the clouds, the lights and the darks, and the greenish-yellow backdrop. They seemed to change."

This next one is of a lightning. They’ve called it a sprite – a carrot sprite at that. Y! tagged it as a strange lightning looking like a jellyfish.

"Oscar van der Velde captured this image of a carrot sprite as it flashed above a thunderstorm near the south coast of France in June. Credit: Oscar van der Velde,"

"Oscar van der Velde captured this image of a carrot sprite as it flashed above a thunderstorm near the south coast of France in June. Credit: Oscar van der Velde,"

They can amaze me sometimes…

On human-avian hybrids

As I was checking out my site stats today, I kinda found out that a lot of searches go for this topic. So, I did a li’l research…

Most of us, if not all, are wondering if it is possible to have these kinds of creatures. Various opinions from the web can be found on this topic. has these. I, imho, have this to say:

My spiritual side tells me that it is not possible as such creatures wasn’t one of the things God created. But neither are we so sure of that. We can never say that we have a complete record of human history. We cannot erase the possibility that human-avian hybrids, they may have had a different name then if they have existed, existed before the time of man. Well, they will not be called human-avian hybrids if man hasn’t existed yet. As for referrence to the Bible, it does not usually enumerate every creature there is. Instead, the Bible just says, “every living being on the land”, “every bird that flies in the skies” or something like those.

On the scientific side, the first answer on wiki is rather curious.

No, the genetic make up of each species DNA are completely different so that it is not compatible for combination. Not to mention the obvious ethical and moral parameters that would be violated.

Though, I won’t really totally trust the items from WikiAnswers. Not to mention the typos…

I have once read an article on human-bovine hybrids. (Too bad I forgot to note the url. I wonder if there is a link somewhere in this blog.) They have stated that they were able to successfully make a living 32-cell human-bovine, that would be cows, hybrids. (I am actually wondering why they chose cows.) It is living in a sense that those cells are, literally, alive. But the thing is that the creature can not yet thrive.

The Flock has this, BTW.

To stay on topic…

So far, I haven’t found items or articles, scientific ones, that cater to these creatures. Most kinds of human-avian hybrids that I’ve found are on viruses. Viruses that infect humans, mostly on the avian flu research.

We’ll keep up…

2008 ozone hole larger than 2007’s hole

Maybe, I can say, “Not surprising…” Given all that we’ve been doing to our Earth. Nothing new. Nothing new. But I still believe we can do something ’bout it…

PARIS (UPI) — The European Space Agency says scientists have determined the 2008 ozone hole is larger than last year’s ozone hole but smaller than the 2006 hole.

“This year the area of the thinned ozone layer over the South Pole reached about 27 million square kilometers, compared to 25 million square kilometers in 2007 and a record ozone hole extension of 29 million square kilometers in 2006, which is about the size of the North American continent,” the ESA said.

Scientists said the depletion of ozone is caused by extremely cold temperatures at high altitude and the presence of ozone-destructing gases such as chlorine and bromine, originating from man-made products like chlorofluorocarbons, which were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol but linger in the atmosphere.

Julian Meyer-Arnek of the German Aerospace Center which monitors the hole annually, said since the polar vortex remained undisturbed for a long period, the 2008 ozone hole has become one of the largest ever observed.

The annual analysis is based on data provided by instruments aboard the ESA’s Envisat, ERS2 and MetOp satellites.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

from Arcamax Science and Technology e-zine, 10-09-2008

Jules Verne spacecraft burns on re-entry

The European Space Agency’s first Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Jules Verne, ended its six-month mission Monday by burning while entering Earth’s atmosphere.

The controlled destructive re-entry occurred over an uninhabited area of the South Pacific, the ESA said, when the spacecraft entered the atmosphere at an altitude of about 75 miles and then broke up approximately 47 miles above the water, with the remaining fragments falling into the Pacific 12 minutes later.

Following its March 9 launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the ATV delivered 6 tons of cargo to the International Space Station, where it remained docked for five months.

During its mission, the ATV conducted an automatic rendezvous and docking, four ISS re-boosts to a higher orbital altitude to offset atmospheric drag, ISS attitude control, a collision-avoidance maneuver when fragments of an old satellite came within the station’s vicinity and, during its final journey, offloading 2 1/2 tons of waste.

“Europe has now taken a further step toward its capability of being able to transport and return cargo and astronauts to and from space and helping to define the global picture for human spaceflight from the ISS to future exploration activities,” ESA officials said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

from Arcamax Science and Technology e-Zine, 10-01-2008