Top technology innovators under age 35

From Technology Review:

They are inventors and discoverers and entrepreneurs. They are chemists and biologists and software engineers and chip designers. They create their wonders in universities, startups, and large corporations. They gravitate to the most interesting and difficult scientific and engineering problems at hand, and arrive at solutions no one had imagined. They take on big issues. They are the TR35–Technology Review‘s selection of the top technology innovators under age 35 (as of October 1, 2005). The winners from previous years (when it was the TR100) have changed your world. So will the people you’re about to meet.

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Sahib: the British Soldier in India 1750-1914

Will Cohu reviews the book by Richard Holmes in The Telegraph:

Britain embarked on its great Indian adventure of the 18th and 19th centuries reluctantly. The government was forced to step in after its licensed entrepreneurs of the East India Company were found to be lacking in both efficiency and scruples. Some had come to look upon India as “the land of the pagoda tree” that only had to be shaken to rain money. In just two years, from 1778-80, Sir Thomas Rumbold, governor of Madras, amassed a fortune of £750,000, much of it bribes from the Nawab of Arcot, whose interests were, in turn, defended by the company.

While the company struggled with wars and debt, a new class of self-made gentlemen, the nabobs, returned with their trunks stuffed with riches. After the Mutiny of 1857, the Crown replaced the company as the ruling authority in India, and under Queen Victoria 41,000 Europeans held sway over a population of 15 million.

Some of the British soldiers were mercenaries, some had enlisted into the company’s forces, and others served in regular regiments posted to India. Some came from the gutter and some from the gentry. Some were desperate to serve in India and others had no choice.

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Da Vinci’s Drawings Help a Heart Surgeon

From BBC News:

DavinciheartA UK heart surgeon has pioneered a new way to repair damaged hearts after being inspired by artist Leonardo da Vinci’s medical drawings.

The intricate diagrams of the heart were made by Leonardo 500 years ago.

Mr Francis Wells from Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, says Leonardo’s observations of the way the heart valves open and close was revelatory.

Mr Wells has used this understanding to modify current repair operations, and has successfully treated 80 patients.

The drawings allowed him to work out how to restore normal opening and closing function of the mitral valve, one of the four valves in the heart.

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Explaining the Sumerian Takeoff

Cosma Shalizi points to this article in the inaugural issue of Stucture and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences.  It tries to answer why a complex system of city-states emerged in Sumeria earlier than elsewhere in the world.

“[The] emergence of early cities in the southern Mesopotamian alluvium must be understood in terms of the unique ecological conditions that existed across the region during the fourth millennium, and the enduring geographical framework of the area, which allowed for the efficient movement of commodities via water transport and facilitated interaction between diverse social units alongside natural and artificial river channels. . .

More specifically, my contention is that by the final quarter of the fourth millennium the social and economic multiplier effects of trade patterns that had been in place for centuries – if not millennia – had brought about substantial increases in population agglomeration throughout the southern alluvial lowlands. Concurrent with these increases, and partly as a result of them, important socio-economic innovations started to appear in the increasingly urbanized polities of southern Mesopotamia that were unachievable in other areas of the Ancient Near East where urban grids of comparable scale and complexity did not exist at the time. Most salient among these innovations were (1) new forms of labor organization delivering economies of scale in the production of subsistence and industrial commodities to southern societies, and (2) the creation of new forms of record keeping in southern cities that were much more capable of conveying information across time and space than the simpler reckoning systems used by contemporary polities elsewhere.”

Cure for Baldness?

From National Geographic:Baldmice

To learn how a gene called Hairless regulates hair growth, scientists studied a line of completely bald mice that lacks the Hairless gene. These mice start with a full coat of fur, but once it falls out it never grows back. By genetically engineering the hairless mice to produce Hairless protein in specific cells within their hair follicles, the scientists caused the mice to regrow thick fur. The hair growth cycle has several stages: growth, regression, rest, and reinitiation of growth. If something goes wrong with this process, hair thinning or baldness may result. After hair grows to a particular length, it falls out and the lower part of the follicle is destroyed. After a period of rest, however, the follicle receives a signal that tells it to regrow its lower part and produce a new hair. Until the new findings were made, the exact nature of that chemical signal remained unknown. Hairless “turns off” a gene that makes a protein called Wise. In cells lacking Hairless, continual accumulation of Wise appears to prevent the hair cycle from switching from the rest to the regrowth phase.

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The Lazy Gardener: Harold Bloom

From The New York Sun:Bloom2_1

Mr. Bloom is an impatient and mannered writer, unwilling or unable to take trouble over his prose or to follow an argument from premise to conclusion. Like a lazy gardener, he lets the seeds of his insights fall where they may, never lingering to make sure they have sprouted into an actual thought.

Bloom I am willing to believe that the jacket of Mr. Bloom’s latest book was not designed by a sly satirist, but whoever arranged for the cover to read “Jesus and Yahweh, Harold Bloom, The Names Divine,” could not have found a better image of the eminent critic’s self-esteem. Surely a writer so lordly and unaccountable does not mind seeing his own name coupled with that of God: Mr. Bloom, too, writes in the spirit of “I am that I am,” take it or leave it. (Photo from NY Times).

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