Would You Take a College Class on Cryptocurrencies Like Bitcoin?
The world's first research journal dedicated solely to cryptocurrency launched last month. It's a sign of the times as academics begin tinkering with the study and theory of digital currency.
From inauspicious beginnings to its current notoriety, Bitcoin has revolutionized the way we use and perceive money. Some see Bitcoin as the best kind of currency ever created; others warn that it's unsustainable and dangerously unregulated. Some of those arguments hold more water than others, but regardless of which side you take, it's hard to argue against the opinion that Bitcoin and the other 700+ cryptocurrencies out there have plenty of room to improve.
We're also seeing academic efforts made to improve security as a whole as everyone comes to terms with the fact that cryptocurrency isn't going to be a temporary fad.
That's where academia comes in. Marked by the launch of Ledger, the first cryptocurrency research journal, we're seeing a big push toward the academic study and improvement of digital currency. Cornell University, for example, launched its Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3) in July. The goal for these and other research efforts is to explore the inner workings of cryptocurrency systems in order to shape the future of money in the digital future.
Below, Singularity University's Brad Templeton gives a crash course on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency:
As Andy Extance notes in Nature, academics and entrepreneurs are placing a particularly keen eye on Bitcoin's innovative online ledger -- the block chain -- which could serve as a model for developments toward e-contracts and secure voting systems. Everyone from economists to computer programmers to mathematicians is fascinated by the incorporation of game theory into Bitcoin's fundamental structure. We're also seeing academic efforts made to improve security as a whole as everyone comes to terms with the fact that cryptocurrency isn't going to be a temporary fad.
If anything, this shift just cements Bitcoin and similar currencies as a sure-thing for the foreseeable future.
Robert Montenegro is a writer, playwright, and dramaturg who lives in Washington DC. His beats include the following: tech, history, sports, geography, culture, and whatever Elon Musk has said on Twitter over the past couple days. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Twitter at @Monteneggroll and visit his po'dunk website at robertmontenegro.com.
Read more at Nature
GENT, BELGIUM - 2015/03/29: Bitcoin allows you to send and receive payments at very low cost. Except for special cases like very small payments, there is no enforced fee. Bitcoin on mobiles allows you to pay with a simple two-step scan-and-pay. No need to sign up, swipe your card, type a PIN, or sign anything. All you need to receive Bitcoin payments is to display the QR code in your Bitcoin wallet app. (Photo by Jonathan Raa/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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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