E2, Brute?

The Best of The Week

Oh, my. Today is the day I turn 60 years of age. 60.

When I was young, 60 was old. Ancient. Ready for the nursing home.

I’ve rarely been affected by birthday 'milestones' – 30 didn’t bother me, 40 was the gateway to some of the best times ever, and 50 was just another number.

But 60 – that makes you start thinking. Thinking about how you really don’t have that expanse of time stretching out in front of you (OK, life isn’t guaranteed to anyone, but when you’re in your 20s or 30s, you sort of have that expectation that you’ll be around for a long while).

You start thinking that 70 and 80 are “just around the corner”, if you make it that long. You start wondering which things you can do now will become things you can’t do anymore. You’re truly a “senior citizen”. You’re going to start falling apart.

I've caught myself thinking these things. Hell, it started around 57 or 58. But I came…

A bush robot is a hypothetical form of robot formed simply of repeatedly branching limbs. One trunk divides into three, three into nine, nine into 27... and so on, potentially down to nanotech scales.

This type of robot has appeared in science fiction novels in various forms for decades, but it was formally explored for NASA by Hans Moravec, so it is often called a Moravec bush, and sometimes --…

Designer babies are a currently hypothetical problem of the future; genetically modified human beings that parents tweak to be a bit better than the average human. As we inch ever closer to allowing gene therapy in sperm, eggs, and embryos, two views of the future are ever more frequently brought up for ethical hand-wringing.

One possibility is that genetic modification will allow for the elimination of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, Huntington’s disease,…