“Understanding what chimpanzees are like has made me realize that we humans are
not so different from other animals as we used to think. What makes us most
different is that we are far more clever than even the cleverest chimp, and we
have words. We have a spoken language. We can tell stories about what happened a
week or a year or a decade ago. We can plan for the future, and we can discuss
things - one person's idea can grow and change as other people contribute their
ideas. Great ideas become greater, problems are solved.”
Jane Goodall, My Life with the Chimpanzees
Jane Goodall shares her story for rest of us. Her love for animals, and nature
comes out through every word of this book. I was absolutely thrilled to read
this book. It is a wonderful book by a wonderful person.
The Computer From Pascal to Von Neumann is a computer history book by Herman
H. Goldstine. It surveys the history from the laws of thought by inventors
across ages. It goes from earliest philosophers like Pascal, to
mathematicians like George Boole, to implementors like Von Neumann.
The author reveals how these inventors built their theories on top of others.
Almost everyone involved in this exercise had a shared objective for
These inventors wanted to "free" mankind from the repetitive but mundane
And these inventors lived in different eras like Leibniz lived in 1600s,
Charles Babbage in 1800s and Dijskstra (1930-2002).
When introducing Charles Babbage, author directly goes the motivation that
drove the inventor.
The theme of Leibniz— to free men from slavery by the automation of dull but simple - tasks was next taken up by one of the most unusual figures in modern intellectual history, Charles Babbage
And here is how Dijskstra explains how and why Computers will exceed human
In the long run I expect computing science to transcend its parent
disciplines, mathematics and logic, by effectively realizing a significant
part of Leibniz’s Dream of providing symbolic calculation as an alternative
to human reasoning. - Dijskstra
(Please note the difference between "mimicking" and "providing an alternative
to": alternatives are allowed to be better.)
Author also associated United States Military and Government to various
advancements in Computers. The final chapters gave references to when other
parts of the world got their first computer. I noted that India's first
computers were in 1960s with Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
Here are some interesting historical photos from this book.
There we Einstein's thoughts on various topics. He desired a World-Government,
powerful and in control of Nuclear Weapons. Had a balanced view of both
Socialism and Capitalism. Readily allowed his critics to address their rebuttal
and answered that.
He writes In memoriam for fellow scientists and many other great leaders
of the world. He feels guilty for being associated with development of Atom Bomb
and urges Nations to work towards peace.
He shares ample stories about the difficulties Jews have through, supports the
Uprising of Warsaw ghetto.
The books reveals social and personal side of Albert Einstein.
A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and Unthinkable power to control evolution
by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Steinberg is a book on gene-editing and a
technology called CRISPR.
The book is a personal narration of Jennifer Doudna as she explains the
development of CRISPR and it's discovery for use in gene editing. Rather than a
review, this are notes while reading this book. CRISPR is molecular structure
found in Bacteria, but now more popular term, commonly associated with a gene
Given the technical nature of this article, I must have used the text from the
sources only with slight modification for explanation. References should give
the materials I consulted to write this post. In you notice technical
inaccuracy, I aplogize, please point out, and I will correct it.
As I reader, I found reviewing biological terms helped me understand the
Human Body is made of cells, in-fact trillions of cells. Each of these cells
contain something called DNA. DNA is like recipe, just like a food recipe,
but for building and maintaining living organisms.
Cells use DNA to make proteins. Proteins are the workhorses of the body, they do
all the stuff we need to do to survive, from digesting food to making other
proteins. Proteins are molecules made up of cells.
DNA is made up of a long combination of some very basic organic components
called Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Cytosine. Human DNA consists of about 3
billion of these. The sequence of these determines the information available for
building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the
alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.
In the nucleus of each cell, the DNA molecule is packaged into thread-like
structure called chromosomes. A Chromosome is a DNA containing structure.
RNA are like cousins of DNA, which has an oxygen atom with it. One type called
messager RNA, mRNA, act as carrier of information to different cells, carrying
information from DNA to those cells to produce proteins.
So far, in above definitions, we didn't emphasize on heredity , that is,
sending information from parent to child yet. As soon as we start talking about
heredity, we use the term, Genes.
A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. Each chromosome of
human body has many genes.
If we take a single cell from human body, and find out the entire set of
genetic information in the chromosomes of that cell, we call that a
Genome. A Genome, from Gen e and Chromos ome, is the entire set of
genetic instructions found inside a cell.
CRISPR in bacteria
Single celled organisms like Bacteria were using a technique to fight off some
diseases. The term CRISPR was given to an identified characteristic in
Bacterial DNA sequence, which was used to produce a protein called CAS-9, which
in turn, helped to kill the enemy virus.
CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and
is a family of DNA Sequences found in genomes of bacteria. CAS9 stands for
CRISPR associated protein 9.
The bacteria were found to capture snippets of DNA from invading viruses and use
them to create DNA segments known as CRISPR arrays. The CRISPR arrays allow the
bacteria to "remember" the viruses. If the viruses attack again, the bacteria
produce RNA segments from the CRISPR arrays to target the viruses' DNA. The
bacteria then use Cas9 to cut the DNA apart and kill the virus.
CRISPR Shaping Human Genome
The CRISPR-Cas9 system works similarly in the lab. Researchers create a small
piece of RNA with a short "guide" sequence that attaches (binds) to a specific
target sequence of DNA in a genome. The RNA also binds to the Cas9 enzyme. As in
bacteria, the modified RNA is used to recognize the DNA sequence, and the Cas9
enzyme cuts the DNA at the targeted location. Although Cas9 is the enzyme that
is used most often, other enzymes (for example Cpf1) can also be used. Once the
DNA is cut, researchers use the cell's own DNA repair machinery to add or delete
pieces of genetic material, or to make changes to the DNA by replacing an
existing segment with a customized DNA sequence
When CRISPR was determind that it could be used in lab on living organisms, the
potential for shaping the genome unfolded.
First time ever, in over 100,000 years, we have ability to shape the Homo
Sapien evolution by mechanisms other than random mutation and natural
In humans, CRISPR can be used to do a precise repair and produce a normal
protein from a non-functional gene.
CRISPR enables scientists to edit and fix single incorrect letters of DNA from
3.2 billion letters that comprise the human genome. It can also be used to
perform even more complicated edits to Human DNA.
A relatively straightforward DNA editing has transformed every genetic disease,
at-least the diseases for which we know the underlying mutation(s) into a
potentially treatable disease.
CRISPR on Animals
CRISPR has been used to create gene edited mouse wherein the genome of the
embroyo was edited and introduced back into womb to have an offspring with
the desirable characteristics embedded at time of birth.
And we have used gene editing to create animals desirable characteristics
This is currently used in practice. Like Recombinetics uses gene editing for
dehorning cattle, a safer method than physical dehorning using hot iron-rods.
Pigs as Bio Reactors
An important field of bio technology is regenerative medicine, desired by human
society who are fighting of some disease eithe naturally or have lost some
ability due an accident.
Many scientists see the pig itself as a source of medicine. It is seen
that we might be using pigs as bioreactors to produce valuable drugs like
therapeutic human proteins, which are too complex to synthesize from scratch and
can only be produced in living cells.
Scientists have already been looking to
other transgenic animals to produce these biopharmaceutical drugs, or
farmaceuticals, as they’re colloquially called.
Revivicor is a company that is using CRISPR to produce regenerative medicine,
following the process exactly outlined above. A workflow from their website
gives the details on how Pigs are used as Bio Reactors for regenerative
Malaria Resistant Mosquitos
The deadliest animal on earth, Mosquito can also be killed using CRISPR. The
idea seems to create malaria resistant mosquitoes using gene editing so that
the entire family is disabled from being a carriers of malaria.
CRISPR for Therapeutics
CRISPR can be utilized to edit the germ cells outside the body.
The edited germ cells can be planted inside for beneficiary aspects.
For targeted drug delivery, like fixing the lung or particular muscle instead
of injecting the drug into blood stream.
Adult Homo sapiens are among the last animals to be treated with CRISPR, human
cell: have been subjected to more CRISPR gene editing than those of any other
Scientists have applied CRISPR in lung cells to correct the genetic mutation
that causes cystic fibrosis, in blood cells to correct the mutations that cause
sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia, and in muscle cells to correct the
mutations that cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Scientists have used CRISPR to edit and repair mutations in stem cells, which
can then be coaxed to transform into virtually any cell or tissue type in the
Even as CRISPR continues to be useful, it's power as a technology and it's
potential misuse is a concern for everyone.
Whether we'll ever have the intellectual and moral capacity to
guide our own genetic destiny is an open question - one that has been in my
mind since I began to realize what CRISPR is capable of.
- Jennifer Doudna
And Jennifer Doudna shares her stance as she says, that the nature will still be
our supreme master.
Any mutations that CRISPR might make—intentional or not—would almost certainly
pale in comparison to the genetic storm that rages inside each of us from
birth to death. As one writer put it, “Genetic editing would be a droplet in
the maelstrom of naturally churning genomes.” If CRISPR could eliminate a
disease-causing mutation in the embryo with high certainty and only a slight
risk of introducing a second off-target mutation elsewhere, the potential
payoffs might well outweigh the dangers.
- Jennifer Doudna
Doudna, Jennifer A.,, and Samuel H. Sternberg. A Crack in Creation: Gene
Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
We might have heard about Einstein’s Famous quote on Gandhi. Few years ago, I discovered that the quote is from a book
by Albert Einstein with Title “Essays in Humanism”
A LEADER OF his people, unsupported by any outward authority: a politician whose success rests not upon craft nor the mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power of his personality; a victorious fighter who has always scorned the use of force; a man of wisdom and humility, armed with resolve and inflexible consistency, who has devoted all his strength to the up lifting of his people and the betterment of their lot; a man who has confronted the brutality of Europe with the dignity of the simple human being, and thus at all times risen superior.
Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.
If your child, between age kindergarten to 3rd grade is interested in Learning Minecraft, we have a new club called
"Occamy Minecraft Club". The classes are taught by my Son, Siddhartha, and kids learning from other kids usually well.
I am there to make sure all children learn well from each other during the class.
I found this book totally captivating. I have followed Indian history
through books, and have been witnessed incidents taking shape, like Babri
Masjid Demolition, Killing of Rajiv Gandhi, Curfew, Coalition Government,
Gujarat Violence and burning of the train, the rise of Cyberabad, etc.
The details provided in this book still captured my attention. The
authors do a wonderful job of providing a "concise history of modern
India", and trying to present the facts as they are.
If we come
across any review that either accuses the book of having some prejudice by
labeling it with terms like "British authors", "leftist" or "does not
capture greatness" or "congress" etc, we can safely assume that the
review-writer was standing in front of the mirror rather than in front of
text and words.
Reading history, I often realize that reality
can be stranger than Fiction. This book share ample anecdotes along those
The first thing I realized was - British East India
Company had a much difficult time establishing trade relations in the
subcontinent than French or Portuguese who had arrived earlier because
India under Mughal had some resistance going on. They established pure
trade relations, incurring a loss, buying cows from India, and facing
criticism from Britain. The company did not want to give up on the business
opportunity with India and incurred losses for decades.
notice how Britain captured the whole of India. Robert Clive and Mir Jafir,
a name that has become eponymous with a traitor start the conquer from
South to Nawabs of Bengal. The loot and wealth of India were too tempting
for the British to give up or lose control to locals.
I came to
know through this book that for administering India, British setup "Indian
Civil Services", the highest administrative body in India, which trains
qualified candidates in both Britain and India through rigorous exams. The
motivation was for that administrative body to report directly to the
British state. The "Indian Civil Services" served the system very well,
continued after Independence, and reporting structure replaced to the
democratically elected official instead of the British state.
The book is a whirlwind, each capture captures multiple events in a
century or decades.
I came to know that Mohammed Ali Jinnah, had
requested Pakistan to be consisting of multiple divergent states in India
which had Muslim Majority (like Hyderabad, Kashmir, parts of Punjab,
Bengal, etc). He very well knew that having a separate country with
interspersed states was never going to be practical, he wanted to use that
demand as negotiation tactic. However, Nehru and congress never gave into
it. They receded two states of Pakistan on religious identity. Nehru
declared during Independence that India was not built on religious identity
and is not a religious state, thus keeping the plan for India with all the
states in order.
It seems like India had decided that after
independence they will have some money for nation-building purposes. Since
India got partition, I came to know that, it was Gandhi who, in his just
tendencies, requested for 40 million pounds to be given to Pakistan as it's
I had known about the factors leading to Independence a
little, but I didn't realize that the British were spending roughly 1000
million pounds per year on India after the war (like supporting Indian
soldiers, infrastructure), which had proven economically very costly to
The book also deals with more recent events, and
particularly things that struck me was
a. Keezhaldi massacre and
how no one was ever brought to justice. b. No one was brought to
justice for the Gujarath train massacre. The chief minister, Modi was let
go by the then government in power, BJP under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
It is often that case that being in political majority determined
the outcome of the punishable act, and humanitarian qualities like justice
didn't have a say against power.
As an aside, I could relate to
the above statement even in the 2020 Delhi Riots. BJP government did not
bring anyone to justice. The same argument holds worldwide too wherein, in
the USA, cronyism is so prevalent in republican led administration, and
bringing someone to justice for the wrongdoing seems also non-applicable if
the person has power.
There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. -- C.S.Lewis