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Alex Hughes
student/self employed
LOCATION: Bognor Regis, West Sussex, United Kingdom
WEBSITE: Not indicated
BLOG: Not indicated

finally graduated with HND computing from Chichester College, 2 weeks into the ?forthcoming term, I tried the make the most the course by tutoring fellow students in subjects from SOHCAHTOA to PHP. I became interested in 3D translation and rotation combined matrices during the 3D section and when people ask me to make web services for social networking or business, I think "this is not what computers are really for : they should be either on Number Crunching for science or 3D graphics for everyone's creation and enjoyment."

Information retrieval though, I can see. And I can imagine a time when rare earth metals are rationed and you will walk a few miles to a computer center, research your scientific topic for a couple of hours on the screen and then it will print a newspaper (probably the size of the Sunday Times for you to take away and peruse. You might be lucky enough to have a small internet connected device to run any program you may have... it might be not unlike the days of Alan Turing. But what do I know - perhaps Apple will produce the first perpetually recyclable device.

I didn't really get the purpose of the Mathematics and Physics I studied in the 90s. I used to think "That's cute, that's staggeringly beautiful, that can get me through this exam." Now I am amazed by what can be achieved with the application of even quite simple topics.

Who would have thought with a raspberry Pi and a few old DVD drives which you cannot give away you could in fact build a 3d printer - certainly carriages from "worthless" old inkjets could be used too.

My main interest lies in Mathematics and Genetics. Revisiting some of the topics from UCL Maths esp. vector spaces, analysis and number theory led me to discover some of the reasons for only 5 3D platonic polyhedrons etc.

There is a story of a Quantum Physicist who was asked to talk at a conference on the role of Quantum Physics in the unpredictability of free will and consciousness only to admit, during a discussion on neurotransmitters, that he did not actually know what an amino acid (and therefore a protein based brain chemical) was. It is perhaps based on that wisdom that I wish to read around genetics more thoroughly.

I like the way Professor J Craig Venter defines Cell Biology in terms of computer operating systems. the notion that a cell with a sequenced nucleus will "boot-up" defines a sense of both modesty and pragmatism that I find refreshing.

The idea that in a few years time any biochemical or enzyme you required could be manufactured in bacteria: from hormones, immune factor 8, better quality insulin, dopamine or serotonin.

I am a vegan but the notion of goats producing spider silk protein in milk - whilst a great "insult" to a species (as an art form or the product of 46 billion years naturally-selective work) is not a great injury to the individual or species and benefits for bio-inert heart-valves could be great.

In maths I was fascinated by what Lucasian Professor Marcus de Sautoy described as the gardens of mathematics and some of my forays into fractals and the complex plane have been most enigmatic.

Everyone permits themselves to dream occasionally and the notion that intelligent life could be 'seeded' on a planet is not new. It is know that a common or garden wasp can detect and resolve organic chemicals at concentrations of parts per trillion (equivalent to a few grains of salt in a swimming pool) - far better than any human apparatus. Naturally one would want to exploit the enzymes used in a human device, perhaps using bacterial cultures but this is to miss the point.

It is known how the wasp smells. a number of bio-active nerve cells register a scalar response to the chemical in question - just like a mass spectrometer or spectral analyzer.

Or like the way a human eye perceives color in terms of 3 responses.

If there are a number of chemicals the wasp is still able to resolve because (like the human) it is programmed on an evolutionary level to solve simultaneous linear equations - a technique arrived at through trial and error.

What is interesting though is that the wasp must simultaneously evolve high precision chemical sensors and "fpga" (field programmable gate array) simultaneous linear equations thus doubling in order of magnitude the odds of successfully evolving this feature.

The question is : can it be proven that the structure of DNA itself has a propensity to evolve such systems without prior evolutionary advantage to having such structure? The notion, in programming terms, of an "include" or library.

It is this sort of genetic archaeology combined with Computing power utilizing concepts outlined in molecular biology programs such as Amber (UCSF) and possibly "real-time" spectrometry using synchrotron radiation which could yield the secrets of how life is constructed and how - in a very distant future - another planet could be made either habitable by Earth species or living.