Darwin Tunes: Evolving Music

Darwin Tunes isn’t new, its been around since 2009 – but its been steadily growing in popularity. Darwin Tunes is based on a simple premise – can we evolve music? In order to do this they use an evolutionary algorithm which uses human ratings as a means to judge short sound clips. Higher rated sound clips get to breed and effect the next generation, while unappealing clips die and are excluded from breeding. The awesome thing about the project is that it works – and quite well. It won’t be competing with human artists yet, but its very clearly music.  Evolutionary algorithms hold great promise for design in general, but their application in areas such as aestheticism is currently under-explored – Darwin Tunes is making great progress in fixing that.

Check out Darwin Tunes to hear some of their clips and get involved yourself! You can also read their recent PNAS paper here.

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Citizen Scientists Track European Heredity

Citizen scientists have recently published a paper in PLOS One tracking human male migration and expansion, using the R1b1a2 gene on the Y chromosome. What makes this work special is the citizen scientist aspect of it. Following on from our previous article on bioinformatics as a growing hobby, this work shows that such a hobby can be a truly useful form of crowd sourced science. One of the authors of the paper remarked:

We’ve tried to show how such progress can be facilitated by an engaged community of individuals, with varied and complementary skills, connected via the Internet.

Find out more at Futurity. Also check out our educational page on DIY biology.

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Building Artificial Neurons

Taking us one step closer to cybernetic brains, a research group has been able to create an artificial synapse (the connections between neurons in our brains). This device should be able to mimic the major features of human memory and can be interfaced with natural neurons. This leads to the possibility of cyborg/augmented brains which contains both natural and electronic parts. Alternatively it could eventually be used for the long coveted ideal of brain uploading. Read more at Machines Like Us.

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Curiosity Lands on Mars! Synthetic Biology Implications

The Mars Space Laboratory (MSL), otherwise known as Curiosity – is a large car-sized rover, which today successfully landed on mars. To have landed was a monumental task and an amazing achievement. The picture above is the second one we received from the craft, showing its shadow on Mars – confirming its successful landing. Now the rover is ready to begin its long mission to find out a huge number of things about Mars, including looking for signs of life.

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Bioprinting Introductory Infographic

Bioprinting is the very fancy new technique of “printing” organs (or perhaps even a whole organism!) rather than growing them the traditional way. This process is fast but difficult – however it has been making huge leaps and bounds recently. After the break you will find a very useful infographic explaining the basics of this new technology (created by printerinks in collaboration with organovo ).

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