This illustration is a montage of photographs, taken from Figure 4 of ‘Testing Turing’s Theory of Morphogenesis in Chemical Cells.’ Image: Seth Fraden
Alan Turing’s accomplishments in computer science are well known, but lesser known is his impact on biology and chemistry. In his only paper on biology, Turing proposed a theory of morphogenesis, or how identical copies of a single cell differentiate, for example, into an organism with arms and legs, a head and tail.
Now, 60 years after Turing’s death, researchers from Brandeis University and the University of Pittsburgh have provided the first experimental evidence that validates Turing’s theory in cell-like structures.
The team published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, March 10.
Turing was the first to offer an explanation of morphogenesis through chemistry. He theorized that identical biological cells differentiate, change shape and create patterns through a process called intercellular reaction-diffusion. In this model, a system of chemicals react with each other and diffuse across a space—say between cells in an embryo. These chemical reactions need an inhibitory agent, to suppress the reaction, and an excitatory agent, to activate the reaction. This chemical reaction, diffused across an embryo, will create patterns of chemically different cells.
Turing predicted six different patterns could arise from this model.
At Brandeis, Seth Fraden, professor of physics, and Irv Epstein, the Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry, created rings of synthetic, cell-like structures with activating and inhibiting chemical reactions to test Turing’s model. They observed all six patterns plus a seventh unpredicted by Turing.
Just as Turing theorized, the once identical structures—now chemically different—also began to change in size due to osmosis.
This research could impact not only the study of biological development, and how similar patterns form in nature, but materials science as well. Turing’s model could help grow soft robots with certain patterns and shapes.
More than anything, this research further validates Turing as a pioneer across many different fields, Fraden says. After cracking the German Enigma code, expediting the Allies’ victory in World War II, Turing was shamed and ostracized by the British government. He was convicted of homosexuality—a crime in 1950s England—and sentenced to chemical castration. He published “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis” shortly after his trial and killed himself less than two years later, in June 1954. He was 41 years old.
There is no developmental, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman. It is estimated that about three million girls, the majority under 15 years of age, undergo the procedure every year. - Ban Ki-moon
While over four decades old, this debate between Norman Mailer and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan on the electronic age still asks questions we continue to ask today: are we alienating ourselves as we push the electronic envelope?
As Mailer told us in 2007, “I really do believe that there’s a close-knit war between God and the devil that goes on in all our affairs. People hate the thought today, because we live in a technological time where human beings are sick and tired of the heritage of the Middle Ages … Well, we’ve had the Enlightenment since then. We’ve had Voltaire. We’ve had several centuries in which to forge our vanity as human beings, and now we are a third force. There’s God at one end, the devil at the other, and there we are occupying this huge center. And half of us alive don’t believe in God or the devil.”
To the President of Congress
[Philadelphia, 17 September 1787]
We have now the Honor to submit to the Consideration of the United States in Congress assembled that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.
The Friends of our Country have long seen and desired that the Power of making War Peace and Treaties, that of levying Money & regulating Commerce and the correspondent executive and judicial Authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general Government of the Union. But the Impropriety of delegating such extensive Trust to one Body of Men is evident—Hence results the Necessity of a different Organization.
It is obviously impracticable in the fœderal Government Of these States to secure all Rights of independent Sovereignty to each and yet provide for the Interest and Safety of all—Individuals entering into Society must give up a Share of Liberty to preserve the Rest. The Magnitude of the Sacrifice must depend as well on Situations and Circumstances as on the Object to be obtained. It is at all Times difficult to draw with Precision the Lines between those Rights which must be surrendered and those which may be reserved. And on the present Occasion this Difficulty was encreased by a Difference among the several States as to their Situation Extent Habits and particular Interests.
In all our Deliberations on this Subject we kept steadily in our View that which appears to us the greatest Interest of every true american the Consolidation of our Union in which is involved our Prosperity Felicity Safety perhaps our national Existence. this important Consideration seriously and deeply impressed on our Minds led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on Points of inferior Magnitude than might have been otherwise expected. And thus the Constitution which we now present is the Result of a Spirit of Amity and of that mutual Deference & Concession which the Peculiarity of our political Situation rendered indispensible.
That it will meet the full and entire Approbation of every State is not perhaps to be expected. But each will doubtless consider that had her Interests been alone consulted the Consequences might have been particularly disagreable or injurious to others. That it is liable to as few Exceptions as could reasonably have been expected we hope and believe That it may promote the lasting Welfare of that Country so dear to us all and secure her Freedom and Happiness is our most ardent wish.
"If the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control as was suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians, that would be an important step, but this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction, and Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely or be held to account."
— Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
On Friday the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched a new initiative, Free & Equal ,for LGBT equality.
All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are born free & equal in dignity and rights. The United Nations is here to make it clear that LGBT rights are human rights.
A random ball pit is set up in the middle of a city
And this is what happens as people approach it.
Totally Lovely and Fuzzy :-)