Blog Archive for the ‘Long News’ Category

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The age of discovery

Posted on Friday, July 10th, 02009 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

We may have Google-mapped every last nook and cranny of our planet, but we’re still finding ways to push back the limits of what we know. A few recent discoveries:

1. Could Mars have sustained life? New images show evidence of ancient Martian lake

2. Further into outer space: Black hole is most massive known

3. Closer to home: Sub explores ocean’s deepest trench

4. Pushing back our understanding of our own history (it seems the gatherers, not the hunters, invented agriculture): Food storage began well before farming

5. The invention of food storage on a smaller scale: Chinese pottery may be earliest discovered

6. And this story (found by Will Hill) of a species almost as successful as we are: Ant mega-colony takes over world

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

The resilience of life

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 02009 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.


Life can survive at the bottom of the oceans; inside volcanic vents; in radioactive wastelands. So even if humans don’t make it through the coming centuries, it’s a good bet that in some form or other, life will go on.

A few recent stories about the resilience of life:

1. Microbe Wakes Up After 120,000 Years

2. Life could have survived earth’s early bombardment

3. A counter-example to the previous story (though, obviously, sea life later recovered): Ancient eruption ‘killed off world’s sea life’

4. Trying to understand the essential elements for life: Could life be 12 billion years old?

5. Making “life” in a test-tube: Simple chemical system created that mimics DNA

6. With or without us, life can survive on this planet a while longer: Earth gets billion-year life extension

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

The technology of medicine

Posted on Wednesday, June 3rd, 02009 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

At a recent conference on the future, one of the participants claimed that every one of the top ten human diseases would be cured within twenty-five or fifty years. While the time frame may be overly optimistic (after all, we’re still waiting for our flying cars to arrive), the pace of change in medicine is nothing short of remarkable — as shown in these recent news items.

1. Two stories of doctors operating at the molecular level: Bacteria take fantastic voyage through bloodstream and Healing the heart with bone-marrow cells

2. A new era of customized medicine: Personalized drugs may lengthen cancer survival

3. Reports of two new treatments for the blind: Synthetic fibers to reverse blindness and Implantable telescope helps restore vision

4. A new possible treatment for Parkinson’s: Sending genes into the brain

5. Finally, if these stories don’t make you feel optimistic, maybe this one will: The whole world is optimistic

We invite you to submit story suggestions for The Long News here.

The human side of climate change

Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 02009 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

slums

There have been a flurry of reports in the last few weeks which try to anticipate how climate change may impact human populations.

1. Two trends (urbanization and global warming) seem to be on a collision course: UN: Growth of slums boosting natural disaster risk

2. A first step towards further regulation, at least in the US: EPA declares fossil fuel emissions a health threat

3. A study from the Institute for Global Health: Doctors’ health warning on climate change

4. And from the World Wildlife Fund: Climate change threatens millions who live off sea

Politics does matter

Posted on Friday, May 1st, 02009 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News #2: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

Senator Arlen Specter’s change of party affiliation is a news story that is likely to have long-term consequences; if the opposition can’t filibuster, it makes it much more likely that President Obama’s agenda will pass. Many parts of the agenda (shoring up the banking system, changing the way health care is paid for) seem primarily of short-term significance; but investing in a green economy or in primary research could lead to a very different future.

1. Good news for people who are worried about innovation in the U.S. — the budget for the National Science Foundation is doubling: Obama vows return to US science prominence

2. I, robot: Robots are narrowing the gap with humans

3. Unfortunately, running out of oil may not mean the end of the gas-guzzler: Lab finds new method to turn biomass into gasoline

You can read more about The Long News here.

We invite you to submit story suggestions here. (more…)

Introducing The Long News

Posted on Tuesday, April 21st, 02009 by Kirk Citron
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The Long News

[editors note:  Kirk Citron proposed this idea of Long News to Alexander Rose, Stewart Brand, and Kevin Kelly a while ago.  While we have not found funding for it, Kirk has valiantly stepped up to be the editor of the program himself to try it out and see if it has legs.  Thanks!]

Each weekday, The New York Times prints around 125 news stories. That’s just one newspaper; add in all other newspapers, plus television, radio, and the internet, and it’s clear thousands upon thousands of news stories are generated every day.

But how many of these stories will make a difference next year? A decade from now? A century? Ten thousand years?

That’s the idea behind The Long News: to try to identify news stories whose significance seems likely to grow, rather than diminish, over time.

We will link to articles about trends, discoveries, and events that might have a long term impact on humanity — or at least, for several decades. We will try to spot stories which appear likely to shape the future, and that a future historian might some day look back upon as important.

To begin, we are launching The Long News as a category within the Long Views blog, for occasional publication as we find new stories which seem relevant. We are kicking off today with four links; and we invite you to submit additional stories here.

1. The transhumanist movement claims we may be able to guide human evolution; this article suggests we may have less control than we think: Modern life’s pressures may be hastening human evolution

2.  Given the resources each new American consumes, this story (found by Stuart Candy) is troubling: Baby boomlet: US births in 2007 break 1950s record

3. A glimpse at the future of medicine — a possible new path to a cure for cancer: Experts use nanotech to deliver anti-cancer genes

4. In the future, science may no longer need scientists: Self-directed robot scientist makes discovery