- Hacking the President’s DNA
A long article about the potential dangers of synthetic biology and the increased ease of crafting biological weapons that target specific characteristics.
Some party drug—all she got, it seemed, was the flu. Later that night, Samantha had a slight fever and was shedding billions of virus particles. These particles would spread around campus in an exponentially growing chain reaction that was—other than the mild fever and some sneezing—absolutely harmless. This would change when the virus crossed paths with cells containing a very specific DNA sequence, a sequence that would act as a molecular key to unlock secondary functions that were not so benign. This secondary sequence would trigger a fast-acting neuro-destructive disease that produced memory loss and, eventually, death. The only person in the world with this DNA sequence was the president of the United States, who was scheduled to speak at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government later that week. Sure, thousands of people on campus would be sniffling, but the Secret Service probably wouldn’t think anything was amiss.
Another story of a con-man. Who knows if these stories are even real?
One day about six years ago, Rubie was in his Manhattan office, working out a major deal for one of his new clients, Mitchell Gross. After his fantasy trilogy, Gross, under his pen name Mitchell Graham, had moved on to legal thrillers. A wise move: The manuscript for his first thriller, Majestic Descending, had already caught the eye of Bruce Willis’s production company, Cherokee Productions, which wanted to buy the film rights. Rubie learned this from Gross himself, who had left his last agent and wanted Rubie to represent him in negotiations.
Majestic was going to be “Die Hard on a cruise ship,” Rubie says. As due diligence, Rubie called actress Sondra Locke, who Gross said would vouch for him. It may sound unusual for a book by a little-known writer to be incorporated into an existing movie franchise, but Rubie remembered that Die Hard 2 had been based on a book that had nothing to do with the original Die Hard. “Hollywood does all kinds of crazy things,” he says.
- The Patent Problem
Yet another patent article this time by Steven Levy of Freakonomics fame, and focusing on patent trolls. If you think Apple vs Samsung or HTC paying hundreds of millions to Apple is bad, then this is the ugly:
That labyrinthine process, combined with the intricacies of the court system, have made trolls more powerful than ever. NPEs have nothing to lose. Because they don’t create anything, they can’t infringe on anyone else’s patents, no matter how overblown. That means they can’t be countersued. This isn’t mutually assured destruction; it’s asymmetric warfare.
- How I Learned A Language in 22 Hours
I’m a bit annoyed about this article because it reads like a thinly veiled advertisement for a site called Memrise. Basically the entire article is saying if you use Spaced Retention Software, you only need to spend a couple of minutes per day to learn something. And if you add those couple of minutes up, it’ll only add up to 22 hours! Hardly worth an article…
- They Cracked this 250-Year-Old Code, and found a Secret Society Inside
A secret codex revealed a secret society of a secret society from the 1700s! Maybe they’ll make a movie out of this