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Cancer's days numbered March 27, 2003

Cancer is an insult to humanity and must be eradicated. Some recent advances promise to render most kinds of cancer curable in the next thirty years. A friend of Vanessa's is working on new methods for delivering cancer drugs in high doses to cancer cells without damaging surrounding tissues or exacting other costs from the otherwise healthy body. Check out this video that covers David Needham's work at Duke on this subject. Keep a handkerchief nearby.

Natural Science

In 1994 David Smith, Frank Boosman and I traveled to London and had a chance to meet Richard Dawkins, perhaps the foremost authority on evolution on the planet, now that Stephen Gould is gone (and probably before). Richard invited us to his flat in Oxford where his lovely wife, Lala Ward served us a fantastic vegetarian meal. Dr. Who fans might recognize Lala as the good Doctor's secretary on that popular BBC TV show. She is also a very accomplished Shakespearean actress. At that time she was creating the illustrations for Richard's latest book, River Out of Eden.

Large wooden carousel horses decorated the apartment and one room was populated with various generations of Macintosh computers. Richard was introduced to his future wife by another of our friends the author Douglas Adams. I had already devoured The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker and was fascinated by his intellect. For me it was like having dinner with Mick Jagger. He didn't disappoint. We had a lively discussion about creating 3-D simulation software to demonstrate evolution. I think the idea we came up with was called The Dinosaur Terrarium. It was pretty much llike what the Sims has become for social interaction except more focused on physics and biology.

If you haven't already dipped your awareness into his work try these on for size:

The Selfish Gene
The Extended Phenotype

The Blind Watchmaker
River out of Eden
Climbing Mount Improbable
Unweaving the Rainbow

Richard Dawkins is perhaps most well known for coining the term "meme" to describe the self-perpetuating concepts of which we humans become so enamored. His Viruses of the Mind lectures are riveting, thought provoking forays into the nature of the mind as well as our physical reality

"The haven all memes depend on reaching is the human mind, but a human mind is itself an artifact created when memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for memes. The avenues for entry and departure are modified to suit local conditions, and strengthened by various artificial devices that enhance fidelity and prolixity of replication: native Chinese minds differ dramatically from native French minds, and literate minds differ from illiterate minds. What memes provide in return to the organisms in which they reside is an incalculable store of advantages --- with some Trojan horses thrown in for good measure. . ." Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained

For a good site covering all things Dawkins check out this site.