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DNA Self-Assembly, Dice Ordering, and the Nature of Ugly-Cuteness: Lux Recommends #110

By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #110, the newest edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (and want to receive this by email? Sign up here).

DNA self-assembly scaled up: “DNA can be designed to self-assemble into target shapes, but the size and quantity of objects that can be prepared have been limited. Methods to overcome these problems have now been found.” — Adam G

A Cryptocurrency Without a Blockchain Has Been Built to Outperform Bitcoin: Just when you thought blockchains were all you had to get up to speed on… — Bilal

Google Has Released an AI Tool That Makes Sense of Your Genome: “AI tools could help us turn information gleaned from genetic sequencing into life-saving therapies.” — Adam G

Dice Become Ordered When Stirred, Not Shaken: “A jumble of thousands of cubic dice, agitated by an oscillating rotation, can rapidly become completely ordered, a result that is hard to produce with more conventional shaking.” — Sam

In China, a Three-Digit Score Could Dictate Your Place in Society: “It was as if Amazon had swallowed eBay, Apple News, Groupon, American Express, Citibank, and YouTube — and could siphon up data from all of them.” — Lux Recommends reader Bob. G

What Separates ‘Ugly-Cute’ From Just Ugly: “Ugly-cute animals typically share many of the same exaggerated features as human babies — like the chubby form of a blobfish or the enormous eyes of a tarsier. And we respond to them emotionally, even when their features are exaggerated to the point of being grotesque” — Adam K

How Layers in a Latte Form: “Created by accident, or by baristas experimenting with new drinks, these striped beverages start with a glass of heated milk and then pour in the espresso.” — Adam K

10 Essential Books That Explore Genomics, Microbes, Psychology, Evolution, and the Human Brain — Lux Recommends reader Guy Perelmuter

Sour Grapes: “Documentary about the fine and rare wine auction market centering around a counterfeiter who befriended the rich and powerful and sold millions of dollars of fraudulent wine through the top auction houses.” — Adam G

Obit: A beautiful portrayal of the people (New York Times obituary writers) who portray beautiful lives lived. Only one or two sentences of any obit are about death, the rest are all about interesting lives lived. Some awesome vignettes. — Josh

Dredd: The newer movie is a much better adaptation of comic/graphic novel of a future dystopian city where elite cops are judge, jury, and executioner. Clever weapons and future drugs, including slow-mo that slows time perception. — Josh

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