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Offline ukmicky

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human advancements
« on: 21/09/2005 03:03:01 »
What is the most important scientific or medical discovery or invention, the one that has helped mankind or our advancement the most?

Could it be the discovery the world was round or that the earth wasnít the centre of the universe.

Was bells invention of the telephone without which there would be no internet or long distance communication more important than Einsteinís  famous equation e=mc2.

Was James Clerk Maxwell, electromagnetic theory of light more important than Einsteinís theory of relativity.

Was Alexandra Flemingís discovery of penicillin more important than the Wright brotherís invention of powered flight?
 
Was the invention of the television or radio more important than Darwin's Theory of Evolution?

There must be one advancement that stands out above all others, that one advancement that we have benefited from the most . What is it[?]
« Last Edit: 21/09/2005 03:07:44 by ukmicky »


 

Offline David Sparkman

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #1 on: 21/09/2005 03:39:25 »
I would say that cooperation would be the first major advancement, when we learned to work together to get more done than either could do alone. But that was a long time ago, I forget who invented it.

Otherwise, there is no one enabling invention, but we fill in the holes of knowledge when the need is great enough. The better question may be "what area of endever would prove to be of the greatest benefit to mankind that we can expect in the next 20 years?"

My answer is "understanding and being able to model folding".

David
 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #2 on: 21/09/2005 09:50:31 »
I would say some sort of communication technology, if you recon that speach was pre-technology then printing as it made mass communication so much cheaper, it enabled all the subsequent revolutions.
 

Offline David Sparkman

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #3 on: 21/09/2005 18:27:31 »
Folding technology refers to understanding how complex molecules fold and unfold. It is the key to this hit or miss medicine deal we have right now. It will also affect many other fields, almost anything to do with organic molecules will benefit. Compared with other fields of science, organic "science" is way behind in our understanding of the basics, and folding is what we need to understand to take the next big step forward.

David
 

Offline Simmer

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #4 on: 21/09/2005 22:44:16 »
Maybe writing; allowing knowledge to be recorded accurately and passed from one group/generation to another?

You could argue that language is even more fundamental but that's  not unique to mankind, AIUI.
 

Offline ukmicky

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #5 on: 22/09/2005 02:01:54 »
Cheers David

I did try googling MODEL FOLDING  but came up with nothing

Michael                                      
« Last Edit: 22/09/2005 02:02:30 by ukmicky »
 

Offline David Sparkman

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #6 on: 22/09/2005 05:03:07 »
Try Results 1 - 10 of about 2,640,000 for molecular folding. (0.24 seconds) hehe, big subject

From one hit: "Researchers have been interested in the forces involved in folding proteins and nucleic acids such as RNA, because forming their three-dimensional structure is so critical to their function," said Bustamante. Additionally, cells appear to use mechanical forces to unfold both proteins and RNA molecules in the process of degrading them, and scientists have little idea how this process occurs.
-----

The surface of a folded molecule is what often forms the template for interaction with another molecule. If we can calculate surface topology of a folded molecule, we could "see" how it will interact with another molecule unlocking keys to most organic chemistry mysteries.
David
« Last Edit: 22/09/2005 05:08:07 by David Sparkman »
 

Offline rosy

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #7 on: 22/09/2005 14:33:33 »
I guess actually what's going to enable the protein (or DNA or whatever else) folding models to become sufficiently sophisticated to be useful is actually the staggering rate of growth in computer speed available. If you're modelling anything to do with atoms and molecules you need a shedload of processor power!
That's not exactly an invention, more a developement of what's already there, but it's making a big difference to what computational scientists can do in all fields (chemistry, biochemistry, meteorology, you name it...)
 

Offline neilep

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #8 on: 22/09/2005 16:06:39 »
The biggest medical discovery from my point of view was when I found the paracetemol last night. I had a really bad headache !

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Offline Ultima

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #9 on: 24/09/2005 12:59:30 »
I agree with Simmer, the written word or any form of recorded information has been the greatest advancement, it allows human endeavour to surpass the lifetime of an individual. Without it you have no society, history, science, medicine.... anything! We would still be using folklore and song to record achievements and knowledge! The written word goes along with cooperation toÖ. Protein folding isnít exactly the most important thing ever; itís mostly through other fundamental understandings of chemistry, physics and computational brute force that allow us to do neat things like that. I could write a program to model protein folding, but itís only through reading material of others ideas, and then using shared distributed computing that it would be of any use! We live in an age of automated information recordingÖ where your shopping, browsing even driving habits are monitored and regulated. Medical discovery wise I think the biggest leap forwards was realising that we aren't separate from every other living thing, with people like Galen attempting to record information for others. His work lasted for over one and a half thousand years, surviving religious dogma and persecution. Once society of that time realised that it wasn't hellish to examine the human anatomy, they had a fundamental grounding to work from to develop true medicine!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galen

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wOw the world spins?
« Last Edit: 24/09/2005 13:09:09 by Ultima »
 

Offline ukmicky

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #10 on: 24/09/2005 14:28:18 »
I have to agree, so the written word comes in in first place, but how about computers as a close second

Michael
« Last Edit: 24/09/2005 14:30:12 by ukmicky »
 

Offline Bass

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #11 on: 24/09/2005 19:00:49 »
How about agriculture?

At some point our pointy-headed ancestors went from gathering fruits and nuts to actively planting and cultivating crops (course, in my family, that occurred only a couple of generations ago).

Prediction is difficult, especially the future.  -Niels Bohr
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #12 on: 26/09/2005 11:51:34 »
Bass agriculture needs to take on board its long term environmental impact. Ripping the heart out of tropical rainforests to grow soya in order to feed cattle is absurd. Or to change the natural tree cover in order to produce palm oil might be better addressed by planting palm oil bearing trees in the desert. We are in the process of ending our existance on this planet at an unprecedented rate. If we don't rethink our agricultural practices and policies we are indeed doomed as a species. So agriculture gets to go in room 101

In fact all of the past great civilisations ignored the long term consequences of their farming practices and turned once great fertile lands into massive deserts, leaving behind only the huge stone structures as a warning for mankind to change its ways, and as yet this warning is being ignored by everyone.

The more the deserts grow, the more rainfall will unleash its destruction in areas not yet destroyed by farming, hence the recent floods around the globe.

What can we do about it? Plant trees instead of tombstones!

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."
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Offline Bass

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #13 on: 26/09/2005 17:10:56 »
Andrew
Sounds like you're advocating the abandonment of agrictulture in favor of planting trees (which is merely another form of agriculture)?  I'd best be finding an inhabitable cave and see if I can spot any wooly mammoths about to feed my brood!

Without agriculture- civilizations would never have developed.  Like it or not, food remains a basic human necessity.

I agree that not all algricultural practices are environmentally beneficial- but then again, most human endeavors have unintended consequences.  

Malthus would certainly be proud of your dire predictions.

Prediction is difficult, especially the future.  -Niels Bohr
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Re: human advancements
« Reply #14 on: 26/09/2005 17:53:41 »
Bass, not at all, agriculture has its place but the majority of people that practice it need more practice at making it sustainable. My idea is to reforest the massive desert areas using waste water from Europe as the return ballast for bulk crude oil carriers, which currently transport sea water half way round the world with zero financial return. Furthermore, they have to pay to have the tanks cleaned out due to tar build up, which would become digested when mixed with sewage and waste water. This way the tanker companies get paid for a return voyage by the water companies that no longer have to treat waste water, and treatment takes place inside the tanker during transit, Byproduct of this type of treatment of waste water is methane, which can be converted to methanol. This would save each and every customer of the water companies a massive £2-3 hundred a year off their water bills and at the same time, address the massive problems with drought and desertification. Once irrigated with waste water, a gelling type fungus spreads through the sand grains turning sand into soil by instantly adding organic material and nutrients to allow for water retention, relieveing the necessity of constant irrigation, which poisons the land due to salt build up at the surface. Trees are then planted from the coastline working inland so that moisture from the oceans can cross onto the land and fall as rain when temperatures drop at night. See plastic trees to get the idea of how much moisture can be milked from the air near to the coast by trees. Once established, the forests will provide foliage as compost to further enhance the water retention of soils. Other areas could then be used to grow crops, initially oil producing plants to address the worlds growing demand for fuel. For example, Australia, which is nearly all desert or semi desert can be placed 2 and a half times in the sahara and gulf deserts. Think about the knock on effect of reforesting huge areas will have on providing timber, cooling the planet, removing carbon from the atmosphere, and limiting the amount of rainfall in other areas which suffer from frequent deluges, not to mention addressing global warming directly and feeding the starving millions.

The deserts are the main source of returned heat to the atmosphere. They are indeed the cylinder heads of this planet and require a huge amount of salt free water to prevent the whole planet from overheating. So the next time you flush the toilet, think about where and why your bodily waste products are going and where they should be going.

O and I forgot to mention that this project addresses the massive environmental pollution problems at the coastal areas, so you don't need to swim in other peoples faecies and urine or eat fish that have gorged themselves upon our toilet duties.

But hey, what do i know?



"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."
K.I.S. "Keep it simple!"
« Last Edit: 26/09/2005 18:02:03 by Andrew K Fletcher »
 

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