first_imgIf phrases like “the conservation of conservatism” or “the production of productivity” leave you scratching your head, you may wear off a few hairs thinking about a paper in PNAS1 on the “evolution of evolvability.”  Entitled, “Is evolvability a selectable trait?”, this paper by two scientists at Rice University considers whether the rate of change of evolution can change.  (Pause here to think about that.)  In other words, can the ability of a population of critters to adapt to its environment quickly be selected by natural selection?  Might some critters become sluggish in their ability to change, while others develop flexibility in adapting to changing conditions?  Why is anyone even asking this question?    It’s not that no one has thought about this before, but the idea has been shrugged off by other evolutionists in the past.  How could a population plan ahead to be flexible?  For this reason, the authors seem a little defensive writing this paper:Whether the propensity to evolve, or evolvability, can be an object of Darwinian natural selection is a topic of interest.  Causality would suggest not because of the apparently anticipatory nature of evolvability.  Many within the field of evolutionary biology are uncomfortable with the concept that evolvability is a selectable trait.  A growing body of experimental data, however, would be explained if evolvability were a selectable trait.    Higher organisms cannot evolve, or adapt, by germ-line mutation to an environmental change within their own lifetime.  Does this mean that lineages and individuals cannot be under selection for evolvability?….….Although the use of the term evolvability has only recently come into vogue in the scientific community, investigations into the evolution of adaptation go back several decades.  Prominent from a theoretical perspective are works in population genetics and game theory [see 02/10/2004 headline].  Despite the insights that these studies give as to the origin and maintenance of evolvability, evolution of and selection for evolvability remains a contested issue primarily because of the causality principleSo the burden of proof is on them to show that evolvability evolves.  Their paper is primarily a mathematical model, similar to computer models of evolution (see 07/04/2004 headline).  A model is needed, they say, because of the difficulty of measuring the effect in the wild:Whether evolvability is selectable has been a difficult question to answer, primarily because observations in evolutionary biology tend to be correlative in nature and difficult on which to make mechanistic conclusions.  Therefore, we consider here the dynamics of evolvability in a well defined theoretical model of protein evolution.  Within this model of protein structure and function, we have a fixed population of proteins, which we take to be 1,000.  We have a microscopic selection criterion, which we take to be the folding and binding of a protein to a substrate.  And we have a means of inducing constant, random environmental change.They claim the model shows that evolvability is a function of environmental change; the more dynamic the environment, the more evolvable the protein.  This, they emphasize, is their important finding.  It’s kind of like physics:An analogy with thermodynamics illuminates the issue: How is free energy minimized in a physical system of particles despite the difficulty in defining the entropy of a given configuration of the particles?  An ensemble of particle configurations allows the definition of free energy and the approach to thermodynamic equilibrium just as a population of evolving organisms allows the definition of and selection for evolvability.They seem to be viewing individual organisms as molecules, and treating Darwinian selection as a force acting on the ensemble– a form of group selection (see 05/31/2004 headline for opposing view).  Is there any evidence in nature for their position?  They point to a few possibilities:Many observations within evolutionary biology, heretofore considered evolutionary happenstance or accidents, are explained by selection for evolvability.  For example, the vertebrate immune system shows that the variable environment of antigens has provided selective pressure for the use of adaptable codons and low-fidelity polymerases during somatic hypermutation.  A similar driving force for biased codon usage as a result of productively high mutation rates is observed in the hemagglutinin protein of influenza A.  Selection for evolvability explains the prevalence of transposons among bacteria and recombination among higher organisms.Is this concept useful?  The authors feel that “therapeutics also confer selective pressure on the evolvability of pathogens, and that this driving force for antigenic drift should be considered in drug- and vaccine-design efforts.”    The believe their model shows that “The rates at which the various events within the hierarchy of evolutionary moves occur are not random or arbitrary but are selected by Darwinian evolution.  Sensibly, rapid or extreme environmental change leads to selection for greater evolvability. This selection is not forbidden by causality and is strongest on the largest-scale moves within the mutational hierarchy.”    One of their concluding statements summarizes their view into a pithy sound bite: “Not only has life evolved, but life has evolved to evolve.”1David J. Earl and Michael W. Deem, “Evolvability is a selectable trait,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0404656101.It must get boring at the Darwin Party storytelling banquets (see 12/22/2003 commentary), so every once in awhile someone has to come up with a new plot to argue about.  To these guys, proteins in a test tube are a microcosm of caribou in the tundra or humans in Manhattan.  This paper might suggest a short story or novel on whether New Yorkers are evolving evolvability in response to terrorist attacks.  If so, terrorism might be a good thing; it makes the species more adaptable to sudden change.    It doesn’t matter whether the model corresponds to reality or not, or can be observed or not, as long as it makes entertaining reading, generates lively discussions and opens new markets for GameBoy.(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgCitizens everywhere deserve the respectof their governments. They also sharethe responsibility, with their leaders, ofcreating an adequate society. With the continent’s abundance of the sunand wind, solar technology advances inAfrican countries should have become apriority many years ago, said Ramphele.(Images: Southafrica.info)MEDIA CONTACTS• Steve Biko Foundation+27 11 403 0310Valencia Talane“We need a philanthropic movement in this country where each one of us does what we can do.”This was said by distinguished philanthropist, academic and businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele back in 2007, citing, among other concerns, a need for South Africa’s emerging middle class to share more of its wealth in order to help address poverty and inequality in the country.Fast forward to five years later, today – Ramphele has delivered such a movement.The Citizens Movement for Social Change, launched in April, encourages a culture of accountability and proactiveness among citizens, which will see them grow beyond a nation wounded by colonialism and apartheid.Addressing attendees at the launch in Cape Town, Ramphele echoed her words from 2007, saying: “Accountability mechanisms to ensure citizens remain stewards of the democracy and at the centre of governance have not yet been developed.”On the other hand, a change in how leaders view the people on the ground is also necessary to lessen the gap between those who hold the power to govern and those who should be benefiting from the government.In an interview with Business Day earlier this year, Ramphele said one of the flaws of South Africa is that in the transition to democracy “we skipped a step”, forgetting to liberate ourselves from the psyche of an apartheid society, which had thrived on the principles of job reservation and exclusion.“We underestimated the depth of the chasm that we inherited. We thought we could throw money at education and money at other things, but it required much, much more,” she said.“Now the best weapon anyone has to arrest the slide is to become an active citizen and champion of the Constitution, which enshrines social justice.”Lessons from AfricaFrom 2000 to 2004 Ramphele was one of four managing directors at the World Bank, and the focus of her post was human development in Africa.It was a great achievement for her on an individual level; she was the first African to reach a position of such seniority at the global financial institution.“My contribution to the World Bank was to say ‘what is good for people in the US and China is good for people in Africa’, which I think has helped the bank think more holistically in their efforts on development,” she said.However, she reckons, it was a great learning curve for her as well.Speaking to UK-based Ubraintv.com – a digital network that focuses on energy and environmental news – Ramphele shared her views on Africa’s preparedness to start taking care of itself, so to speak.There are parts of Africa that are working, and some that are not, she said.“”Ethiopia, which was in the media for the wrong reasons a few decades ago, is now pioneering the process of reforestation,” she said, referring to the famine that gripped the Horn of Africa country, where varying reports put the number of deaths between 400 000 and 900 000, with many more displaced.“This was achieved by ordinary people whose government had to catch up with the citizens.”She added that the events of the last year or so in the continent’s Arab nations were also a sign of the revolutionary change that can be brought about by citizens.These are ordinary people taking charge of their own issues, demanding that governments meet them halfway in creating governable states that address the needs of the poor.Africa has a unique way of communicating, said Ramphele. Many people in Africa subscribe to a culture of meeting in a circle, with everyone around the circle having a say and contributing towards a solution for the concern of the day. This is known as a kgotla, from the Setswana word meaning “court”.“There is no hierarchy in a circle, so everybody gets a turn to be heard,” she reasoned.This will come in handy, said Ramphele, in the networking and knowledge-sourcing processes that African scientists should be enlisting in order to advance the continent’s chances at fighting climate change.Technology in the fight against climate changeRamphele is of the view that most of postcolonial Africa’s governments ignored the investment in their people and, therefore, the enabling of Africans to innovate.“Despite Africa’s shortcomings in terms of governance, the interconnected world allows us to look at what is happening elsewhere, and determine how we can adapt that to our environment,” she said.“From having looked at the technology the world has to offer, combining it with our natural resources like the sun and wind, we should be able to develop technology that is appropriate for our needs.”Through the work of the Technology Innovation Agency, a government agency of which Ramphele is chairperson, she is able to see benefits of the internet and social media revolution, with young people now able to connect to their peers around the world to share ideas.Ignoring the changes around the globe will, in time, mean that we will fall behind in our efforts to preserve the planet, she said, and when we run out of time, nature could punish us.“The current shift to think beyond economic growth and to embrace an approach towards human development means that at all levels of governance, national, continental and global, we have a set of actors who are well informed.”Nurturing a responsible citizenryThe task ahead, Ramphele argued, is to mobilise citizens to voice their rights and exercise their responsibilities.Without an active citizenry and with enduring poverty and development failures, South Africa is headed down a dangerous path of instability. *Image of Mamphela Ramphele courtesy of Wikipedialast_img read more

first_imgI don’t want to give up my desktop computer, but it seems like many people do.Dan Frommer at SplatFlays it all out: The PC industry is in decline. The Mac, which was growing while the rest of PCs were shrinking, is now shrinking, too. But if you add in the iPad and count all of Apple’s “computers” at once, the numbers are through the roof.It’s pretty clear what all this means. As Steve Jobs said, PCs are trucks, and tablets are cars. Most people don’t drive around in trucks. But the ones who drive trucks need great ones, and that’s where Apple is starting to focus its Mac efforts exclusively.Here in the U.S., at the peak of the George W. Bush era (remember him?), a trend began where people whose jobs entailed parking their car, going inside, and doing something on a computer began driving hulking monster trucks designed to resemble military assault vehicles. But after realizing over decades how much unnecessary energy those SUVs consumed, the trend swung back, and now many people conspicuously drive little hybrids instead.Consumer products can be like that. Trends swing back and forth like a pendulum as new technology becomes available to meet people’s tastes.The Tablet TrendWhat we see in Frommer’s amazing charts is the adoption of just such a trend. Yes, it may be that Mac sales declined 22% in 2012, the biggest drop in 10 years, but that fall in Mac consumption can’t come close to accounting for the soaring iPad numbers. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces jon mitchell Tags:#Apple#iPad#Mac The Real PC MarketSince the “what is a PC?” argument is not yet resolved, I propose this definition: A PC is a computer with a multi-window workspace and a pixel-precise input method. For now, though I think this part can change with good-enough voice interfaces, let’s include a physical keyboard, too.The PC market is surely subject to trends, but that 22% drop in Mac sales is not the end of the Mac trend. Apple knows that as well as anybody. In 2012, Apple shipped the first Macs with retina displays and a striking new iMac, which, as CEO Tim Cook pointed out in the Q1 2013 earnings call was not available for most of the quarter in which the low Mac numbers were reported.Why would Apple ship those products in a down year, fighting the clear trend against PCs? Because today’s PC market is the real PC market. The people who still buy PCs actually need them. It might be a pretty hard crash for low-margin PC manufacturers, but for Apple, with high-end Macs bolstered by roaring iPhone and iPad businesses, it’s just a chance to build the best, most powerful PCs it has ever made.And that’s not to say that Windows PCs are finished, either. It just means they have to be excellent enough for an increasingly high-end market.Lead image by Eliot Weisberg for ReadWrite. Chart courtesy of Splatf. Bottom image from Apple.  Certainly, there’s a use case for a tablet that replaces the point-and-click PC completely. It does a better job for lots of people, since the battery lasts all day and it fits in a handbag. Apple should be thrilled to sacrifice Mac sales in exchange for selling iPads to those people. The company is even betting that this trend will take a bite out of the enterprise PC market, and it seems a pretty safe bet.But the iPad was not the first $500 portable computer. It may (seriously) be the best one, but its astronomical adoption rate is not simply driven by the sudden realization by tens of millions of people that they can be more efficient workers on this device.Tablets are also entertainment systems. They’re an elective choice, like the choice of a Hummer or Prius over a used Honda. They’re trendy.Likewise, not everyone who bought a white plastic MacBook needed all its capabilities. They needed some of them, which a $300 Windows netbook also offered, and they wanted some of them, like the ability to watch Netflix in bed. But those people have the iPad now. It’s a better choice for those uses. And Apple doesn’t have to make that Mac at all anymore.center_img Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

first_imgA teenager was sentenced to death by a court in central Assam’s Nagaon on Friday for the gang rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl five months ago. Zakir Hussain, the 19-year-old convict, was found to have taken the lead in raping the minor and setting her on fire at her residence in Batadrava on March 23. She died of burns while being transferred from the Nagaon civil hospital to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital that night. The court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Nagaon found Hussain guilty on September 4 but reserved the pronouncement of the quantum of punishment for Friday. The police had filed a case and arrested eight people, almost all neighbours of the girl, within two days of her death. The accused were arrested on charges of rape, house trespass, causing disappearance of evidence and murder under the IPC. After a swift probe, the police filed a charge sheet on April 28 against eight persons. Five of them were acquitted due to lack of evidence against them while two others are being tried in a juvenile court. The incident had led to widespread protests across the State with the Assam government announcing in the Assembly that it will bring in a stringent anti-rape law in the next session of the House. The government also announced to recruit women sub-inspectors through a special drive to have 30% women in the police force. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had launched a toll free helpline, 181-Sakhi, for women in distress and the Gauhati High Court approved the proposal for setting up exclusive fast-track courts for trial of cases related to rape and murder of women and children in Assam. Organisations have welcomed the judgment. (With PTI inputs)last_img read more

first_imgThe NSWTA State Conference aims to improve the delivery of Touch Football with a specific focus on our Affiliates and volunteers. Presentations are made throughout the weekend aimed to assist and enhance the ability of affiliates to provide a better product for our members. The Conference offers a tremendous opportunity to learn what other Touch Associations are doing as well the networking with members from across the State including Regional and State Officials.Delegates arriving on Friday, 25 July 2008 will be VIP Guests at the Vawdon Cup. On Saturday, 26 July 2008 a Blues Dinner will be held of which former Australian cricketer and commentator Kerry O’Keeffe. The Blues Dinner will recognise NSWTA best Affiliates, Regions, Administrators, Players, Juniors, Volunteers, Referees, Coaches and Selectors. The 2008 NSWTA Blues Awards winners and Hall of Fame inductees will also be recognised on the night.The nominees are:Affiliate of the YearSix regional winners and one State winner. SunsWagga TAKiama Juniors TA (Stingrays)Albion Park TA RebelsEast’s TAUNSW TABankstown Juniors TA MetsPenrith TALower Blue Mountains TABlacktown TA ScorpionsManly TARyde Eastwood TANorth’s TA HornetsPeninsula TAParkes TAWallsend TA EaglesGlen Innes TATamworth TAInverell Juniors TA Administrator of the Year John Ryan East’s TAJulie Andrews Wallsend TAElijah Van Der Kwast UNSW TALinda Bruce Glen Innes TA Region of the Year SunsHornetsMets Rod Wise Medal- Volunteer of the Year Kellie Johnston Wallsend TAChris Dolahenty Wagga TAGary Brickell Wollongong TA Coach of the Year Andrew Hawkins Wallsend TAPeter Forrester Canterbury TAMick McDonald Wests TAAnnette Mounsey Wollongong TA Selector of the Year Craig May Taren Point TABob Monkley Yass TAMel McMah Easts TATim Kitchingham Penrith TANatilee Sargeant State PanelMale Player of the Year Joel Willoughby Canterbury TAGary Sonda Canterbury TAJason Stanton Wests TASteve Roberts Canterbury TA Female Player of the Year Kristy Judd Easts TAClare Winchester Canterbury TANola Campbell Wests TALouise Winchester Canterbury TA Junior Male Player of the Year Ben Moylan Penrith TAMichael Singh Wests TANick Good Penrith TA Junior Female Player of the Year Nicky Albury Wests TAAmy Regal Wollongong TAStephanie Halpin Tamworth TA For all information regarding the NSWTA State Conference and Blues Dinner please visit www.nswtouch.com.au to stay up to date with developments.last_img read more