Check out this blog – it’s EPIC!


The Energy Policy Innovation Council (“EPIC”) informs and educates policymakers on current, complex issues in energy policy that impact Arizona and beyond.  EPIC is housed within the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.  EPIC recently launched a blog in response to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule (“CPP”).  The blog forms part of The Clean Energy Initiative, a three university project led by Arizona State University in partnership with Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.  With the blog, EPIC aims to contribute to state-level discussions surrounding the CPP.

Wednesday Web Watch for October 29, 2014

Law lag.  We hear about it all the time, as we continually move to resolve cutting-edge issues involving avant-garde technologies.  The oft-discussed concern is whether we can effectively use laws applied to early 21st Century technologies to regulate novel, emerging systems.   Are they horses of the same color?  “No” says Ryan Calo,”[t]oday software can touch you, which may force courts and regulators to strike a new balance.”  Nonetheless, Calo does concede there are parallels with, and lessons learned from, ancestor technologies which he discusses in his article entitled, A Horse of a Different Color, published by Slate.

Tuesday Triple Trivia for October 28, 2014

3 Questions. 3 Hints. 3 Answers. Every Tuesday.

1.  What recent retraction once again emphasizes that the grass is not always greener over there?


Answer:  looking for a weight loss solution? Don’t bother with Dr. Oz’s publicized Green Coffee extract.  A paper, based on a study alleging promising weight-loss results has been retracted by its authors.  The flawed study has proven costly to Applied Food Sciences, Inc., makers of a green coffee ingredient found in dietary supplements.   Among other requirements, the company will have to pony up $3.5million dollars in accordance with the terms of a settlement agreement between it and the FTC.  Read more here.

2. What does bread have in common with milk?


Answer: if it’s syn-bio milk we’re talking about, yeast.   A California plant-based food start-up called Muufri (get it? “moo free”)  hopes its genetically engineered yeast will produce a tasty, superior glass of milk worthy of an oreo cookie.  This is a first in the area of food substitution and sustainability.  A new world has opened up for all the vegans out there — if they ignore the cow DNA sequences that are added to the yeast cells during the process.  Read the details here.

3. What discovery has clarified the nature of something that  goes “tick-tock” ?


Answer: scientists at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have unraveled some of the mysteries of the female biological clock.   Eggs in the uterus need nutrients and support from the granulosa cells of the primary follicle.   The mTOR signaling pathway in the granulosa cells plays a key role in egg growth and survival, among other things.  The researchers’ goal is to use this knowledge toward eventual interventions and treatments for female infertility.  Read the story here.

Wednesday Web Watch for October 22, 2014

There were technology-related privacy concerns way back in 1878?  Yes there were.  Mike Masnick, editor of the Techdirt blog, highlights that time in the late 19th Century when the New York Times published a piece condemning Thomas Edison’s phonograph and aerophone –  Edison’s “perverted ingenuity.” ”  On the phonograph, “[w]ho will be willing, even in the bosom of his family, to express any but most innocuous and colorless views and what woman when calling on a female friend, and waiting for the latter to make her appearance in the drawing room, will dare to express her opinion of the wretched taste displayed in the furniture, or the hideous appearance of the family photographs?”   The aerophone, an “atrocious instrument,” received similar accolades.  The author is no doubt spinning in his grave…though very quietly lest anyone should hear.

Tuesday Triple Trivia for October 21, 2014

3 Questions. 3 Hints. 3 Answers.  Every Tuesday.

1.  What event is linked to genetic modifications affecting a particular European nation?


Answer: researchers have discovered epigenetic modifications in subjects who lived through World War II Nazi Germany, passing behavioral disorders, such as magnified reaction to stress, on to their offspring (just like mice).   Thus, what has been referred to as “German angst” appears to have genetic, albeit altered, roots.   Results from the Uniysis Security Index which, as its title indicates, measures consumer security concerns, show that Germans are ahead of the “concerned” pack of nations.  As noted by one former German Chancellor, “[t]he Germans have a tendency to be afraid.  This has been part of their consciousness since the end of the Nazi period and the war.” The good news is that genes also react to better times so that atypical dispositions eventually even out.  This phenomenon is not limited to Germans or World War II.  Scientists have established similar stress-disorder correlations in other disturbing instances such as 9/11.  Read the details here.

2. “Internet addiction”?  With respect to what?


Answer: we are entering (somewhat) new territory: “[s]cientists have treated a man they believe to be the first patient with internet addiction disorder brought on by overuse of Google Glass.”  Let us hope that this is not a widespread reaction to wearing Glass.  After all, the guy was wearing the technology 18 hours a day — a likely red flag.   The patient, undergoing treatment for alcoholism,  was, in connection with that treatment, required to surrender all electronic devices, including his Glass.  Ironically, his Google Glass withdrawal symptoms were greater than his alcohol withdrawal symptoms.   Nonetheless, there is no consensus among psychologists “over whether the addictive use of the technology is a disorder in its own right or simply a symptom of other problems.”    Read more here.

3. What novel discovery could have you living beyond 100 years?


Answer: if you carry certain rare variants in the APOB gene you might well be one of the few to live beyond a century.  Read the story here.