Codex v. Vizplex
No, I'm not promoting a fight between two futuristic boxers. I'm talking about the publishing industry and how Sunday afternoons of the future will be spent. Will Gutenberg's printing press go the way of the telegraph, or is Kindle the New Coke of publishing? In one corner is Codex, the traditional ink on paper format, while in the other corner is Vizplex, the microsphere screen you read from if you have been eager enough to buy Amazon's Kindle (2). The information revolution is well underway, but will the book as we know it really be a thing of the past?
Different points of view yield different predictions, but few people, if any, think current technologies have delivered the K.O. to perhaps the cultural heavy weight: the book. Still, the digital revolution can't help but influence the way people have read ever since Gutenberg's vision was fully realized. Jason Epstein, who as the founder of the New York Review of Books has led a very innovative publishing career, sees certain information as no longer useful in codex form. In an insightful 2009 speech, he said ephemeral information like almanacs will be the first to abandon the book format since they are literally out of date as soon as they are published.
Bill Wasik, editor at Harper's Magazine and Big Thinker himself, thinks the book will survive as an oasis to the pressures of a 24/7 media environment. He predicts the printed page will remain the preferred format for more in-depth ideas, and reliable and thoughtful content.
The American public, at once fickle and unpredictable, has ignored (cheaper) reading devices such as Sony's Reader, which allows users to access all the public domain books Goolge has digitized. Instead, the people have fallen behind Amazon's Kindle, which tends to offer more romance titles than classics because, well, that's what the majority of readers are after.
Another theme touched on by Epstein is the same trend among booksellers who, during the great American suburb migration, placed themselves in shopping malls between Footlocker and Sbarro. Faced with steep rent prices and inventory constraints, they opted for best-sellers over less ephemeral literature. The same thing is currently happening to the long treasured independent used book shops of England. But the digitization of print media removes both rent and inventory from the equation. Content goes directly from the publisher to the consumer. But then where does it go?
Nicholson Baker writes for the New Yorker that, "Kindle books aren't transferable. You can't give them away or lend them or sell them. You can't print them. They are closed clumps of digital code that only one purchaser can own. A copy of the Kindle book dies with its possessor." Ironically, until featherweight digital reading devices become more like their seasoned heavyweight predecessor, the book will stay off the ropes and keep its very literal staying power.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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