Understanding the microbiome… and other recent essays

Below are links to a handful of recent articles published by LML Fellow Mark Buchanan.
Understanding the microbiome, Nature Physics 14, 204 (2018)
The microbiome is the term given to the complex universe of bacteria and other microbes that live within the human body, or the bodies of other eukaryotic organisms. This essay surveys how recent studies of the microbiome are forcing biologists to question fundamental ideas about how organisms interact and fit together in communities.
Critical Response, Nature Physics 14, 106 (2018)
Collective organization and dynamics lie behind some of the most sophisticated phenomena of living systems, including genetic regulation and the dynamics of immunity, as well as brain function and intelligence. This essay explores the recent history of a provocative idea — that many biological systems may be poised near a state of “criticality,” reflecting a functionally useful balance between order and disorder, between stability and instability.
Leading Lights, Nature Physics 14, 5 (2018)
Science often advances through haphazard experimental tinkering in the lab, as researchers make new designs or structures, or put materials together in different ways. An excellent illustration come in fibre optics, a technology which has advanced through a blizzard of innovations, many introduced without much theoretical motivation at all.
Want to Stop Climate Change? Take ‘Em to Court!, Bloomberg View, 19 March (2018)
A legal ruling has paved the way for a trial in a landmark case aiming to force the U.S. Government into real action on climate change.
We Can’t Engineer Our Way Out of Climate Change, Bloomberg View, 22 February (2018)
Argues that geoengineering is the most likely eventual human response to climate change – even if it is hugely risky, and probably a terrible idea – as it will permit continued use of fossil fuels, and minimal social disruption in the short term.
Making Knowledge Free Can Cost You Your Freedom, Bloomberg View, 8 February (2018)
A graduate student in Kazakhstan has made all scientific papers available online for free, but legal action by publishers mean she can no longer travel for threat of arrest and extradition.
What If Self-driving Cars Can’t See Stop Signs?, Bloomberg View, 2 February (2018)
Deep Learning neural networks do some tasks as well as humans, yet they can easily be lured into making spectacular errors.

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