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« They say it can't happen that fast... | Main | Emerging Tech LIVE! (1) »

September 26, 2006


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Tom Craver

I'd tend to attend which ever seems most likely to say something new and interesting.

Nanotoxicity (B) sounds like it'll likely just re-iterate the standard positions and arguments, despite sounding "relevant".

A,C and D have some potential.

Online software (C), if it takes off, it mainly just moves the money away from some players to other players, with maybe some cost savings to consumers. Interesting, but not a radical change.

Software defined radio (D) is interesting - but the main implication seems to just be more shrinking of capabilities into one smaller package - i.e. a continuation of a well established trend.

So I vote "A". The $1000 genome (A) has the most transformative potential, and so is most like the potential of MNT.
Seems to me that you don't really need to fully sequence most individuals' DNA - you really just want to know if they've got any of maybe 100 common genetic markers for disease or potential disease. Or at most, you could focus on the genes that most commonly vary among humans.

So you unzip the test subject DNA, separate 'left' and 'right' halves, mix left test halfs with right halves of known DNA - except the right halves are also cut into two parts leaving out the gene to be tested. The strands mostly match up - but leave that gene exposed and un-matched on the test strand.

Finally, mix in two alternative sub-strands corresponding to matches for 'healthy' and 'diseased', with the 'diseased' alternative marked with UV-luminous chemicals or some other marker. One or the other should predominately merge with the test DNA strand. Wash, and see if the result glows enough to indicate that disease gene is present.

OK - that's probably wrong a dozen ways - but something like that is what we really seem to need - it could be completely automated.

jim moore

I'd go to the 1,000 dollar genome talk, some sort of soft wet nano-tech that can interface with a computer is needed to really reduce the cost of doing very sophisticated cellular biochemistry. It would be interesting to see how far down that road we currently are.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Definitely not the cell phone talk.

The nanoparticle talk might be interesting for the public perception aspect. And it might have new technical information that could be useful background for when people ask us about it. But I'd agree with Tom that it's probably not that likely to have anything really new.

I'd mildly disagree with Jim on the $1000 genome talk. The capability is coming, it'll be useful for medicine, but it's a known technical achievement. I'm guessing they'll talk about the technologies, timelines, and development costs, not about interesting applications like radical health extension. And reading DNA is nice, but doesn't help a whole lot with building artificial DNA sequences and shapes.

Personally, I'd be most curious about the online software, in the hope that they might talk about ideas that would actually change people's workflow in the near future. Working online could easily lead to collaboration software, which could lead to new information-delivery models, which could lead to human-computer collaboration... I'm probably getting way ahead of the session topic here (though I'm pretty curious what the Google programmer will say). And it's not directly CRN-related (though it might have some influence on the speed of research). So I guess I'd vote for the nanoparticle talk, but it's a very weak vote.



I'd also vote for the $1000 genome, although not as much for the possible medical applications, but for the probable benefit of having complete genomes for more different species.

Mike Treder, CRN

I just spent some time during the lunch break chatting with Barbara Karn, Vicki Colvin, and Andrew Maynard, all three of whom are panelists in Session B, on Nanotoxicity. Vicki and Barbara are friends of mine, and so I'd like to support them with my attendance at their breakout session -- but it really doesn't sound like any new ground will be covered there. Instead, I think I will follow the lead of our readers (and my own inclinations) and report on the $1000 Human Genome session.

Michael Anissimov

I vote for C because it's highly relevant to making coherent theories about the 5-15 years-distant world that nanofactories will emerge within.

$1K genome - everyone's heard about that constantly. Nanotoxicity - same thing.

Fun blogging experiment!

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