Year of the Dog
Islamic calendar 1437-38

World population 9,000 million
Sea level risen 20cm in last two years; Maldives now at 25% of year 2000 land-area, much of Holland under North Sea
Millions die in hunger riots worldwide as grain supplies dwindle
Finland marks Independence Centennial with virtual firework displays
Already hundreds of Saddam Hussein clones in circulation

Feral cybermoles cause of flooding in Athens metro tunnels
PRIVAMED personal home doctor services

First batch of aquanaut children celebrate second birthday
Death of all aquanaut children reported - UN calls for global minute's silence tomorrow
Aquanaut experiment shelved

40 stolen birch-laminate gene chairs found in Glasgow market - thousands of patented Pentik chairs still unaccounted for
Energypower Ltd Annual Report: R&D Dept. Electric Plant & Forestry Project

Landfill biorobots go on rampage and eat São Paolo slum area - Brazilian army halts advance

SatWeb 11.01.2017

Feral cybermoles cause of flooding in Athens metro tunnels

Investigations by Athens City Council into the recent flooding that caused chaos in the metro tunnels under the Greek capital have revealed a surprising culprit. The holes found in tunnel walls were caused by cybermoles. A preliminary report on the incident was handed in today by Chief Engineer Paulos Kristianos.

Cybermoles have been used with great success in cases of tunnel collapse, and in the wake of mining accidents. On this occasion, however, it seems as though some escaped cybermoles used during the renovation of the metro system had unexpectedly survived and gone feral, boring several shafts between the metro tunnels and the capital's principal water mains. Metro traffic in Athens was at a standstill for several hours, as the damaged trains had to be individually towed to the depot before the lines could be pumped out and re-opened for passenger traffic.

Since transport in the Athens is nowadays greatly dependent upon the newly expanded and modernised metro network, huge crowds built up at several downtown stations, and moving the people took until well into the night. Almost incredibly, the disaster produced only a few minor injuries, all through commuters being crushed in the crowds. Only eight people had to be admitted to hospital.

Similar cybermole vandalism in Italy

According to unconfirmed reports received by SatWeb, this was by no means the first case of cybermoles running riot and causing damage. In San Gimignano, Italy these biomechanical animals have been blamed for digging up four old olive groves some three months ago.

The cybermoles were developed and raised by BioMechanics of St Louis. The BioMechanics Research President Doug Downe still remains confident, however , that the cybermole is a useful tool. He feels there is still every reason to invest in biomechanical applications. "The moles in the Athens incident were clearly too young and undertrained, and I also suspect the Greek contractors may have been negligent in the way they used them. Cybermoles are actually only designed for use in locations where radio contact is not possible, and where conditions might be so difficult that computer-driven diggers could not cope. The cybermoles do a great job, if they are kept busy and don't get bored."

Gene splicing overcomes artificial skin problems

A great step forward in the development of cybermoles and other biomechanical animals came when the problem of their artificial skin was resolved through gene splicing. Until this point, there had been serious difficulties in the development of mechanical limbs in particular. The earlier electrochemical neural connections were prone to inflammations, and there were difficulties in production as a result. Given the land-based nature of the cybermoles, the answer came from a curious direction, in the shape of the Nile bichir, an African fish of the Polypterus genus. These cylindrical ray-finned fish show many primitive features that have led some scientists to believe they may be "living fossils" related to lungfish and coelecanths, but in this instance the interest focused on the electrosensory aspects contained in the creature's genome. Now these and certain electrical pulse characteristics derived from the bichir DNA have helped to connect the sensory and directional signals to the surface of the artificial skin, from where they can be carried forward by grafted neural networks.

Nowadays, of course, the vast majority of mechanical limb applications are directed to the needs of the medicare industries, but the development of technologies and resulting cost reductions have meant that work-animals such as the cybermoles have become an important branch of production for companies such as BioMechanics.

Animal or robot?

The potential for using cybercreatures is currently the subject of research in numerous companies around the world. Possible applications in the future could include guide dogs for the blind, earthmoving and landscaping operations, tree-felling and transportation in difficult conditions, the opening up of blocked drainage or sewer systems, vacuum cleaners, or even as an inexpensive and easily-maintained pony or other pet for children.

One problem that must still be addressed is that of their status in law. Legislators in some countries refer both to animals and to robots in statutes and laws, but cyberanimals cannot be defined in either category. The answer will probably be supplied by the UN, if and when that body can reach agreement on the vexed issue of what constitutes a human - in other words how many artificial limbs or organs can be in a human frame before the protection afforded by the 1948 Universal Charter on Human Rights is either reduced or withdrawn. The opinions expressed on this topic thus far have shown no signs of compromise or agreement.

Draft script for soundtrack of multimedia demo 3.2.2017

PRIVAMED personal home doctor services

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Compumedia Article Digest, 11.4.2017

First batch of aquanaut children celebrate second birthday

Mankind's first real step into a new element is now two years of age. Two years ago, the world witnessed the birth of the first human children designed to live and breathe in water. Now there are some forty such aquanaut babies still alive, despite early problems with feeding and communication.

Since these babies are incapable of surviving outside of their aquatic environment, considerable difficulties emerged in the early stages over feeding and communication. These have, however, been overcome with a mixture of old-fashioned ingenuity and the latest technological advances. Feeding has been possible by the manufacture of a kind of artificial nipple, which gives the infant a solution corresponding to mother's milk as necessary, and by energy packs containing the required proteins and antibodies. Communication, on the other hand, has been achieved using divers equipped with ultrasound speech synthesisers, altered to take account of the children's nervous system and larynx muscles.

Psychologists are nevertheless still concerned that these "waterbabies" will be unable to receive models from their parents with which to learn important emotions and skills to allow their further development.

50% loss-rate

What has happened in the last four or five years? In 2012 a total of 82 embryos were selected for modification, and the structure of their respiratory organs and muscles was altered by gene manipulation to correspond to conditions of breathing under water. At the same time the dermatological structure was adapted to allow the passage of oxygen through the epidermis and dermis, in other words, to make the skin breathe. This was in fact even more successful than had been hoped, as even under normal conditions the foetus develops in the womb for a good period of time in its "aquatic" evolutionary form. The children's organs and other parts were adapted to operate maximally at a body temperature of 24oC.

Now the infants have extremely strong respiratory muscles, by means of which they are able to breathe an adequate supply of oxygen with their lungs and through the skin. In addition, they apparently require less oxygen intake than normal humans breathing the atmosphere. This is in part due to their lower body temperature, which does not require as much energy as in a warmer-blooded creature. And because the aquanauts do not breathe air, there is no likelihood of nitrogen intake that would cause the sort of complaints felt by deep-sea divers - caisson disease or the so-called "bends".

A total of 71 children remained alive until their "birth", when they were placed in warm tanks and cared for by divers. Gradually the temperature of their natural habitat was lowered. At this point nine children died showing symptoms of something like a common cold, and five more succumbed to respiratory infections. A further seven children picked up an eye infection and were blinded. These specimens also died shortly afterwards. In the wake of these losses, the surviving children's immune defences were strengthened using antibodies derived from dolphins. This clearly helped, but ten more children died after eating rotten food or other unsuitable items that had sunk to the bottom of their tanks.

Over the last six months, however, indications have been that all the surviving aquanauts have been almost completely healthy. Researchers say that it is unlikely any major setbacks will occur in the future, but "pioneers in the first generation will always have a higher loss-rate than those that come after them", as the Nursery Tank Director Jonathan Seal observed at the 2-years "birthday party".

UN gives go-ahead for more experiments

Invited guests and dignitaries were able to admire the children through the glass walls of their tanks and to talk with them using speech synthesisers. The children's speech is naturally still only in the early stages of development, but their vocabulary already embraces an average of around 60 words. In time, scientists hope that the aquanauts may provide valuable help in the study of the oceans, and the exploitation of submarine mineral and other riches. The children's education will for this reason involve many years of training in the understanding of the marine environment and its creatures.

On the strength of the encouraging results so far, the UN yesterday announced that it was granting the research team permission to launch gene adaptation on a further 100 new embryos.

According to members of Jonathan Seal's team, the first theoretical calculations on whether humans could be adapted to living and breathing in water were carried out as early as in the 1980s. At that stage, however, gene technology was in its infancy and the means did not exist to create the necessary changes in our bodies and breathing mechanisms.

Compumedia Article Digest - 3.11.2017

Death of all aquanaut children reported -
UN calls for global minute's silence tomorrow

News agencies were stunned by reports today of the tragic death of all forty aquanaut children at their Nursery Centre. The children were found dead early in the morning outside of their kindergarten tank.

First reports indicate that the children, all aged 2 years and seven months, had shown curiosity in their surroundings and had crawled up the shallow incline of the walls of the tank, and had then slid down the other side, from where they were unable to get back into the water.

Investigators believe that the cause of death was a combination of two effects. Firstly, the children's lungs were drained of water and their skin dried out, resulting in reduced breathing ability and ultimately in asphyxiation. Secondly, their lungs collapsed, since there was no longer any water in them to keep them inflated against the pressure of their own body.

The United Nations has urged all states to observe a minute's silence in memory of the children tomorrow at 12.00 hours EST. Secretary-General Amid Laes said at this afternoon's Security Council meeting that the entire world mourns the termination of this great human adventure.

Compumedia Article Digest 10.11.2017

Aquanaut experiment shelved

The UN reported today that the aquanaut experiment had been suspended, at least for the time being. The United Nations feels a need to investigate throughly the deaths of the infants - including those prior to the tragic loss of all forty surviving babies last week. The reason behind the world body's decision is the storm of protest against the experiments that followed the recent accident. After a full inquiry, the UN will assemble a committee of experts to decide on the prospects for continuing with the research. The committee will also include a representative of NADA. The organization has constantly opposed the aquanaut tests on the grounds that they are inhumane and contrary to the natural development of the species.

The committee will also be charged with exploring alternative ways of mankind's living under the surface of the oceans.

CrimeNews 12.11.2017

40 stolen birch-laminate gene chairs found in Glasgow market - thousands of patented Pentik chairs still unaccounted for

Police in Glasgow have found some of the gene-chairs stolen last winter from a Finnish grower's fields on sale in a waterfront market. Police were tipped off about the chairs by a designer attending a congress in the city, who recognized the patented Pentik model while out shopping for souvenirs.

Following the discovery and the arrest of two persons at the market stall, Glasgow police have been able to piece together the route taken by the chairs from Finland to Scotland. Apparently they were carried last December from the fields to a disused barn some miles away, where they were stored until the thieves felt the coast was clear, when they were taken by road to the port of Pori on the Gulf of Bothnia. Here they were loaded onto a ship and carried to Poland. Somewhere in the Gdansk region the chairs were then dried and given a careful surface treatment, in other words polishing and varnishing by hand.

The original heist was a very professional operation. The thieves chose an overcast December night, in order to thwart satellite surveillance. After the removal of the chairs, the gang covered the fields with large sheets of camouflage sheeting that appeared from the sky to be a snow-covered field of chairs. Europol believes that the group financing the operation was the so-called Chili League, an international gang that has derived its nickname from dealing in "hot" goods. A total of nearly 10,000 chairs went missing in December. The raid on the Glasgow market produced 40 of them. In all, the value of the stolen goods was upwards of EUR 1 million.

Police are now appealing to people in England and Scotland to be on the lookout for more of the chairs. They are relatively easy to recognize, as the models have been displayed in several media. The chairs are designed by the genetech staff of the firm of Pentik, and are based on a standard curly silver birch (Betula pendula carelica) stem, in which a patented Pentik gene controls the shaping of the chair according to a preset design. The stolen batch were the first crop after completion of field trials, and the farmer had been cultivating the gene-chairs already for five years.

Furniture items are becoming an extremely popular genetech item. This may only be a passing fad, but at least the Pentik designers believe that the "natural" yet exotic nature of genetically-manipulated tables and chairs will ensure their popularity for a good while to come.

Extract from Energypower Annual Report, 2017

Energypower Ltd Annual Report:
R&D Dept. Electric Plant & Forestry Project

The Research and Development Department has been led during the period under review by Prof. Akorn Suphorn. The Department employed 192 persons at the end of the year. Operational and database processing capacity averaged 900,000 Gb/min. These figures also include computer-driven artificial organisms.

In the course of the year the R& D Department has been engaged on a number of projects geared to new sources of energy. The most successful venture has been the energy forest, which is already into the pilot phase. In contrast, investigations into the extraction of heat from the earth's crust, slow-filtering of solar radiation, and marine current generators have shown that at this point the technology is not economically viable. They will be re-examined in a year or two, by which time energy transfer technology may have developed in such a way to render them financially attractive methods of energy generation.

The genetic design programme for the energy forest was first laid down in 2014. At that time it was still regarded as a somewhat unrealistic and utopian idea, as results of gene splicing between plants and animals had not been very encouraging. Researchers nevertheless recognized that the principle worked in theory, even allowing for the differences existing between plant and animal cells.

Two plant species were chosen for the experiment, bamboo and white willow. Each of these have long been acknowledged as rapid producers of energy. In trials, the bamboo has shown itself to be more suitable both as a plant and in terms of its tolerance of genetic manipulation. In the initial stages, genes were implanted from the electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) and the Nile bichir (Polypterus bichir). Laboratory tests indicated that electrical cell genes from the bichir in combination with bamboo saplings gave by far the most promising results. Whilst the electric eel offers a potentially greater charge, it would appear that the use of this species in this context is not economically sound, as accelerated studies proved that the grafted cell tissue begins to generate electricity only after several years, as in the case of the fish itself.

By the end of the year under review, the saplings in the Department's pilot electro-bamboo plantation were already 14 months old, and had reached a height of several metres. The amount of electricity produced by the plants is measured on a regular basis. In the last quarter of the year, the yields were already so large that it is safe to assume the plant will become economically viable in commercial use. It must be noted, however, that an electro-bamboo forest must be at least 12 hectares in area, as sufficient energy levels can only be achieved by connecting up several hundred plants. Simulations have shown that a 40-hectare forest of trees will generate enough power after three years to provide the normal electrical requirements of a community of 9,000 dwellings.

The production of electricity in the bamboo trees takes place in such a way that the electrically-charged cells ionise fluids in the plant's cell tissue as they flow up the stem from the roots towards the crown of the tree. In this way, the crown becomes negatively charged, and the base of the trunk is positively charged. This same phenomenon was first observed in England some twenty years ago. As a result of the magnetic fields generated within electrical plants, the plant's metabolic rate is accelerated. The bamboos affect neighbouring bamboo trees, and thus the effect is cumulative. This in turn markedly increases the rate of growth of the individual trees and the amount of energy produced.

The Research and Development Department will be continuing its research on three levels. It has already been shown that electro-bamboos produce more electricity in direct response to increased levels of sunlight on the leaves. Also, the larger the surface-area of the foliage, the greater the energy output becomes. The Department is currently examining ways to genetically increase the size of bamboo leaves. A second ongoing research project will continue the search for alternative plants suitable for electricity generation, and a third group is engaged on finding and isolating a genetic combi-plant that would also store electricity, and could thus be grown to form a kind of permanent accumulator or electrical storage cell.

Daily e-Mail 20.12.2017

Landfill biorobots go on rampage and eat São Paolo slum area - Brazilian army halts advance

In one of the most horrific examples of "science runs riot", a large part of a São Paolo slum district has been literally eaten away. The damage was caused by biorobots from a nearby landfill site, which have reproduced in uncontrolled fashion, apparently owing to high lead and artificial preservatives content in the waste they were designed to consume. They broke out of the huge fenced landfill compound in vast numbers, spreading to the makeshift shelters and lean-tos of the shanty town of Patriarca, and cut a broad swathe through several blocks, devouring the buildings just as if they were their regular diet of garbage.

Crack Brazilian army units were called out to halt the advance of the biorobots, and as far as is known, there have been no human casualties, but several hundred people have been left homeless by the breakout. The controversial biorobots are one of the scientific community's latest developments in the ongoing war against waste and the problem of garbage disposal. Landfill sites now occupy up to 5% of the land area in several countries, and the problem is particularly acute in Equatorial regions. Conventional waste processing plants are only able to cope with a fraction of the household and industrial waste being amassed. The biorobots eat selected ingredients of the piled-up waste, and use them as a source of energy and as the raw materials for new biorobots. One biorobot is capable of reproducing an identical copy of itself in the space of around two months.

According to plans drafted by the WHO Technical Committee, biorobots should provide the answer not only to the waste management crisis, but also to any number of other problems associated with raw material collection and reprocessing. They collect the most common and most important raw materials from waste dumps and digest them into easily-managed pellet form.

In the course of its projected two-year lifecycle, a biorobot of this type can sort and pelletize a ton of waste material, some 80% of which can be re-utilized effectively. When a single biorobot can be expected over the same period to generate exponentially as many as 4000 identical progeny, then the waste processing capacity of one biorobot and its descendants over 2 years is 4000 tons, and over four years already as much as 16 million tons. In spite of the setbacks that have hit the project, the UN and the WHO are determined to see the programme through and have pledged to maintain funding. The project leader, Professor Sumea Harawa, formerly of the University of Kyoto, said yesterday that without biorobots the world will soon drown in its own waste.

"Biorobots are driven by a relatively primitive biocomputer. With the greatest respect in the world, they cannot be expected to distinguish between a São Paolo slum and their normal habitat, considering the alarming similarities of the two. In future we shall naturally be looking to improve the programming of the bots, and we will also be more selective in our choices of trial sites."

Eugene Hawk, chairman of LITL (Life Is for The Living, the pressure group launched in January following the Athens metro scare) issued a toughly-worded statement, arguing that this was just one more chilling example of what LITL has been warning of: "There are things that we should simply not be playing with. Life is one of them. Unless somebody stands up and takes real action, before long we shall have guns that think for themselves and reproduce at will."