Headline Aug 27, 2014/"The Unquiet Heroes"


FREEDOM SQUARE   - here, in Islamabad, Pakistan,  is the country's crowding of its greatest  inventors  of all time. And, by all or any  measure, its greatest heroes:

'' The thinkers of real democracy ''  :  the voice of the whole nation. So, I walk over to pay them my respects ; and  to observe and feel,  the electrifying atmosphere.

Skirting cameras, I weave my way in. Clearing my tail. Old training helps. The heroes make way for me. And I dish out chocolates.They salute. And I salute back with a bow. The Lion Khan, is in his lair. 

Exercising away - on his recently transmuted equipment -   with his brows knitted,- into far away thoughts.

Destiny squirms and murmurs. I pray for enlightenment. I pray for Divine Intervention. 

Investing in real  democracy may extract a huge cost from the nation, but the present and future generations would be paid, and paid over many, many , many times, right through eternity!

On Fillmore street, in San Francisco, in that stretch that's still  Boho coffee joints with a head shop and an art gallery or two, stands,  - beautiful imagination 

Boy O'' Boy :  this girl, student Meredith Patterson was some thing, even when she didn't exactly  stand out amongst the denizens of  Lower Height. In her 30s and pushing  5' 10''.

In her combat boots, she had on a tough-looking leather jacket and cat's eye glasses that finished of her look with a nice hint of the 1950s girl nerd. Meredith Patterson is a classic self-invented obsessive.

A  computer programmer  and language theorist by day, she's somebody who's loved anything  do-it-yourself  since she was a little girl, working beside her dad fixing the family car or rewiring the house,

Not long ago she found herself in the grip of a new enthusiasm: homebrew bioengineering.

America has always been a place of ambitious amateurs. And the latest in the long line of them are self-taught biologists like Patterson. These synthetic biologists, so called because they try to engineer new forms of life:

Are trying to do for the chromosome what Steve Job did for the computer.

In the bigger cities, they have started to form  ''synbio''  clubs, the same way radio enthusiasts did in the early  1900s  or computer programmers did in the 1970s or robotics amateurs did in the  '00s.

A few of these clubs have even opened  brick-and-mortar labs where members can practice tweaking various genomes as a group.

Ask most people about the mature spirit, and they'll say, well, that was then. It's almost common wisdom that the golden age of the self-invented upstart ended sometime about a generation ago.

But the fact is that we've been hearing this line at least a  century, and it's always wrong.

The time of   outsiders  and  amateurs  and  cranks  is not a bygone era, but rather a cycle  that comes around just when you think it's over. This cycle is an essential part of America's history - arguably the country's genesis story.

Ever since Ben Franklin left  Boston  for  Philadelphia and continuing right up through when............

Student Mark Zuckerberg  abandoned  Harvard Square  for Palo Alto, there has been this sense that a certain kind of creativity happens on the fly, often on the lam, after beginning in one of those proving grounds of American ingenuity :

The dorm room,  the  weekend hobby club,  the  garage.

For Patterson,  that proving ground happens to be a tabletop lab situated in the breakfast nook just outside the kitchen of her apartment. Her rig, - a collection of mostly  repurposed  and fairly common household devices that she uses:

To fiddle around with the building blocks of life   -and to help her with the next step of her latest projects.  

Here she is now, planning and thinking, how to insert a plasmid of jellyfish DNA into a bacterium so that later she might cultivate a modified form of yogurt, one that tasted great but also glowed in the dark.

Before one can get to any serious bioengineering, Patterson recommends that one must visit one of her goto symbio supply stores.

Trader Joe's, which sold plain yogurt, containing the bacteria, we'd need.

Lactobacillus acidophilus.

During the walk, one notices a tattoo on her ankle. She pulls her pants up above her boot. ''This one is not done yet,''  she says.It was a steampink biomechanical  x-ray of her lower tibia and fibula, a series of mechanical cogs, robotic pistons and bicycle chain.

''It's a kind of joke, because I have done these weird mutant ankles.'' she explains. ''I have this little thing called an accessory navicular bone.''

Patterson has a number of tattoos, all of which relate in some way to her  sense of herself as an   '' off the grid-scientist.''

On one arm she has a rose window and sword from her favourite anime serial. 
''Revolutionary Girl Utena.''   Down the biceps is the iconic image of Atlas holding up the heavens, most familiar as the paperback cover art of:

Ayn Rand's novel  Atlas shrugged.

And keeping the burdened  Titan company is the Page of  Pentacles, and  the tarot-card figure who, she says, signifies the  ''eternal student.''

The Honour and Serving of this rare research will continue in the future. Thank you for reading and see ya all on the next levels.

With respectful dedication to all the  Student inventors of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Unquiet Hero Students Of The World '''

Good Night and God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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