Two Interesting Thoughts

I was reading the most recent issue of Technology Review and two things popped out at me. The first, was the difference in energy density (measured in MJ/kg) between gasoline, ethanol and batteries:

This, in a nutshell, highlights the reason why you don’t see very many electric cars on the road today. They either weigh the same as gasoline cars (and are therefore underpowered) or are full of batteries galore (and therefore cost a lot more). It’s going to be very interesting to watch this statistic change over time.

The other was about what Japanese researchers have been doing with Marmosets:

This spring, news of a biological breakthrough arrived in the form of baby marmosets whose feet glowed green under ultraviolet light.  Researchers at the Central Institute for Experimental Animals in Kawasaki, Japan, had genetically engineered the monkeys to incorporate a gene, derived from jellyfish, that produces green fluorescent protein.  It was the first time scientists had added a gene to a primate in such a way that a new trait could be passed to a second generation.

This is unreal news.  If this turns out to be scalable and applicable to humans (both very big ‘ifs’), we could be looking at a future where it will be possible to speed up evolution.  You could now pick and choose the best traits from anywhere and attempt to graft them into a human genome and see the results enter the global human gene pool immediately.  (I’m not recommending any of this, rather it’s important to realize how fast this technology is evolving and what it’s implications are)