Lecture notes -- Freshman seminar #1
Welcome to UC Davis
Bathrooms down hall
Hand out UC Davis Magazine article
If you could get the diploma without the education, would you?
1) Diploma => your first job, but education => promotions over career.
2) Income is only one benefit of education. Noneconomic effects of college education: "happiness equivalent" of doubling income. ("Getting married" is equivalent to quadrupling income.) Graph diminishing returns on income.
Great educational opportunities here, but some require individual initiative.
Being a lab assistant can be a great experience, but take one lab class first.
Look for interesting lectures ("seminars") -- links on course web site:
Jared Diamond, Oct. 7, 4:10 in Med Sci 180 (Guns Germs and Steel)
"Collapses of Ancient Societies, and their Modern Implications"
If you have a TV in your room, get rid of it.
Defense Against Dark Information: microbes, microcode & memes
Hand out course outline
Drop deadline Oct. 22; last class Nov. 19 (don't skip even one class).
- We will discuss some technical aspects of defense against bioterrorism and computer viruses, but technical expertise is not a primary course goal.
- Some key concepts may help you make sense of your other courses, but mainly…
- Improve your ability to think about complex issues that have both technical and nontechnical aspects (when are analogies useful?)
- Improve your ability to argue constructively (make persuasive arguments and open your mind to persuasive arguments made by others)
- Weekly reading assignments: on reserve at Shields Library. Handout 1.
- Quiz on reading; for now, due at beginning of class. About 1 hour?
- Think (at least a little) about the questions we will be discussing in class.
- If you want to discuss additional topics related to the reading, try to let me know by Monday so I can email the class. Does everyone have email set up ?
- 40% of your grade will be based on class discussion. Positive points for expressing disagreements with other students in a courteous and constructive way and for accepting criticism politely. Positive points for analyses that tie together information from different readings. Negative points for name-calling or complete lack of familiarity with the assigned reading. (Disagreeing with the reading is fine!) No exams.
- A research assignment (finding materials) and 3-5 page paper.
Increased global trade and travel and advances in technology (Internet, biotechnology) may soon make it possible for a small country, a small group, or maybe even an individual -- almost anywhere in the world -- to release a deadly pathogen, computer virus, or anonymous rumor that will spread worldwide, causing enormous damage. Natural outbreaks like SARS and AIDS may also spread more easily than in the past.
I will introduce various aspects of the problem and then we will work together to come up with possible solutions for discussion. Self-introductions.
Usually, I will emphasize general principles -- which I have found useful in a wide range of situations -- more than disease-specific details. y=a ebx
Extreme example: paper on scientific method. 12-object problem.
Dark information = any information that causes harm (CIA identity?)
I will emphasize harmful information that reproduces, so may evolve.
Examples: viruses, computer viruses, vicious rumors. Esp. biology.
reproduction => (almost?) exact copies
evolution = changing relative abundance of different versions over time
Recent NAS report puts "tremendous evolutionary potential of microbes" at top of their list of factors contributing to increasing infectious disease.
Symbiosis: mutualism(+/+) - commensalism(+/0) -parasitism(+/-) continuum
Photos of Sinorhizobium nodules and Agrobacterium gall
N2 => NH3 => protein
"Closely related" = recent common ancestor (draw tree).
My lab and field research in on short-term evolution of rhizobia, but same "evolution rules" may apply across continuum (Microbes & Infection)
Response to selection: D
Z/Z = V H S ---- email petition
Information = anything you can translate to/from string of 1's and 0's
virus => GACTAT… => 0110100… => GACTAT…=> virus
"it is possible to synthesize an infectious agent by in vitro chemical/ biochemical means solely following instructions from a written sequence"
What could be on this CD?
Steganography (message hidden in photos or music)
24-bits per pixel? Reveal information with S-tools, key DarkInfo
Solutions to Known Threats (e.g., smallpox, email attachments)
Recognition-based defenses (antivirus software, vaccines)
Improved technology for detection & diagnosis
Invent new antimicrobials before microbes evolve resistance to old ones
Improved global cooperation to control local outbreaks before they spread
Unknown threats may be a bigger problem. There are a variety of possible defenses, but in some cases the cure might be worse than the disease.
Examples: global police surveillance or worldwide suppression of biotech.