Telomeres and Scientific Progress

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 05:46:56 MDT

On Sat, 29 Apr 2000, phil osborn wrote:

> Ah, curious as to when it was realized - the link between telomeres and
> cancer?? I figured it out in 1980 at the Life Extension conference held at
> the Disneyland Hotel, as I best recall.

You have me beat by 11 or 12 years then because I probably didn't put
the pieces together until '91 or '92. [But heck, I was working on
computers through most of the '80s so I've got an excuse...]

> The key
> element missing in the catalog of mental operations of most of the older
> generation - those now older than 60 - was the ability to think in terms of
> systems - complex feedback and control mechanisms.

I'm not sure whether it is a feature of the older generation, but I do
certainly agree that many biologists have a difficult time viewing genomes
as programs.

> Taking a page from Papert's Mindstorms, those of us who were lucky enough to
> work with real models of such - mainly computers - have no trouble at all
> thinking in terms of systemic variables, but face a frustrating blank wall
> of uncomprehension in trying to convey our insights to those who have no
> such concrete, experiential models in their minds.

It is true, it is diffcult, without the use of ill-fitting analogies
for example, to translate some basic things in computer science into
terms that can be understood by other scientists. I may be biased but
I'm unsure whether the converse is true.

> Certain questions naturally follow: What are we missing that the next
> generation can see naturally? How much will this blindness damage our
> efforts as extropians? How can we prevent or offset this kind of problem?

Interesting questions. They are of the type that leads me to think that
true AI is going to be developed by the first 5 year old who happens
to get a human-mind-equivalent computer with an easy-to-use programming
interface for his 3rd birthday.


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