The Future of Fertility: Lose Weight, Fix Bad Sperm

October 07 2008 / by Lani / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: Beyond   Rating: 8 Hot

Here’s another good reason to lay off that super-sized combo with extra fries: bad sperm. Besides being the cause of diabetes, heart disease, and back problems, a large waistline can also affect fertility. And not in a good way.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen conducted a study involving the sperm of more than 2,000 men who were having trouble conceiving. The results, presented at a recent conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, revealed a substantial difference between the sperm of obese men and those of normal weight. The men were divided into four different groups, depending on Body Mass Index. Men with an optimal BMI of 20 to 25 had a healthy level of normal sperm, while the opposite occurred with heavier men. Findings show obese men produce more abnormal sperm as well as lower volumes of seminal fluid.

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Kids and Tweens in Virtual Worlds - VW '08 Panel Take-Aways

April 07 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: General   Rating: 7

Virtual worlds for kids are an exploding market. But what do they mean for our youth and for the future of our society?

I just had the pleasure to sit through a Virtual Worlds 2008 session titled Kids and Tweens: Why Virtual Worlds Are The New Saturday Morning TV during which a panel of experts shared their thoughts on the rise of virtual worlds as the primary form of entertainment for our youth, exhibiting what moderator Richard Gottlieb labeled as a “sense of overwhelming optimism” about the growing industry.

The following are my favorite bytes and take-aways:

Jason Root, Senior Vice President, Digital, Nick.Com And Nick At Nite.Com asserted that “gaming is the new programming that kids gravitate to”, adding that Nickelodeon views it and virtual worlds “as a logical extension to the web space” and not a replacement for narrative television programming. “That leads kids into a new open-ended experience,” said Root, noting that what’s emerging is an audience “that hungers for both linear and non-linear content.”

Kenneth Locker, Senior Vice President, Digital Media, Cookie Jar Entertainment explained that virtual world experience producers “don’t create content, they create context”, meaning that the goal is to facilitate a variety of sticky open-ended experiences rather than passive consumption. “TV is a top-down medium,” he concluded, “The internet has no beginning, middle or end.”

(cont.)

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The Empty Playgrounds of Tomorrow: Europe's Negative Growth

July 03 2008 / by jcchan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By JC Chan

In the next eight seconds 34 babies will be born to the world. Of these five will be from India and four will be from China. In ten years China will be the dominant English speaking country in the world. With world population exploding and shifting so dramatically, it’s easy to envision a future with billions more humans inhabiting Earth than do today. But that may not be the case.

Consider the scenario presented in the sci-fi film Children of Men (2006), a bleak vision of Earth in 2027 where humans have mysteriously lost fertility and the ability to procreate. In one scene, a scruffy-faced man named Theo, played by Clive Owen, and a woman named Miriam walk across the dreary rust of an abandoned school playground. Sitting on the squeaky swing set is the African woman they are protecting, miraculously nursing in her hands the first newborn the Earth has seen in over a decade. Miriam recalls her days as a nurse delivering births. She notes that over time fewer births were recorded until the day they ceased altogether.

“As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices,” she grimly states.

The backdrop for the film is a future England that has adopted a survivalist policy as it attempts to police millions of incoming immigrants into concentration camps to preserve the little remaining natural resources they have left. When I first watched Children of Men, the idea of humanity wiped out by widespread infertility seemed a little far-fetched. Certainly there are many other, more viable ways for us to go: nuclear weapons, terrorism, a nanotechnology nightmare, a super-resistant bacteria strain, asteroids, global warming.

Growing up in the 90’s, schools and media have always drilled into my head the post-war baby boom, exponential growth, limited allocation of resources, and recycling, oh lots of talk about recycling. (Note: I am an avid recycler.) Still, though we can and should do something about issues like global warming and runaway population growth, scenarios like the reality of the 2027 in Children of Men remind us that there may well be other formidable challenges on the horizon that may not be so much in our control.

Case in point, a recent NYTimes Sunday Magazine article by Russell Shorto entitled “No Babies?” addresses the very real possibility of population decline. Shorto examines the sleepy Italian town of Laviano in Southern Italy, a spectacular sight with magnificent steep slopes and wild poppies adorning medieval fortress ruins of a fortress, in which a population of 3,000 has fallen to just 1,600 and still dropping.

This has caused such alarm that the Laviano’s mayor has created a new fund to give any woman that would rear a child in the village, a sum of 10,000 euros ($15,000). Though the plan has resulted in a slight uptick in residents, Laviano is still steadily losing population. (cont.)

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Deadly Armies of Robotic Children

August 21 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Security   Year: General   Rating: 4

If there’s one thing a science fiction movie will guarantee you, it’s that friendly looking robots will be friendly, and evil looking robots will kill you. As we get closer and closer to an age where robots take a more important role in our lives in both the civilian and military sense, I somehow doubt the builders of military robots will follow the unspoken laws of mass storytelling. With international PR increasingly becoming more important, will military robots all be made to look like death-machines? Or will they take on a more harmless look of, let’s say, Pound Puppies?

Although the image of an army of killer puppy robots equipped with the latest artillery might cause one to smirk, it may not be too far off. Friendly-looking robots, much like friendly-looking humans, are more likely to be perceived as harmless than your standard military death-machine. WALL-E, armed with fifty pounds of C-4, can get places where the army’s latest killer robot couldn’t.

With robots continually achieving a more human look, it would make sense for the military to eventually design robots that like children instead of Terminator’s famed T-101 cyborg. And with robotics jumping in leaps and bounds all the time, suicide-ready humanoid robots are that much closer to reality.

Even if a rocket-laden robot tank could strike a lot of fear into an enemy, friendly looking robots have a greater chance of avoiding attacks as well as slipping into enemy lines. Face it, Skynet went wrong in making Arnold their model of robot — it should have been puppies.

Image: Kris Van de Vijver (Flickr,CC-Attribution)