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Archive for the ‘evolution’ category

Apr 18, 2019

Planck reveals link between active galaxies and their dark matter environment

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution

Scientists have used the tiny distortions imprinted on the cosmic microwave background by the gravity of matter throughout the universe, recorded by ESA’s Planck satellite, to uncover the connection between the luminosity of quasars – the bright cores of active galaxies – and the mass of the much larger ‘halos’ of dark matter in which they sit. The result is an important confirmation for our understanding of how galaxies evolve across cosmic history.

Most in the universe are known to host , with masses of millions to billions of times the Sun’s mass, at their cores. The majority of these cosmic monsters are ‘dormant’, with little or no activity going on near them, but about one percent are classified as ‘active’, accreting from their surroundings at very intense rates. This accretion process causes material in the black hole’s vicinity to shine brightly across the electromagnetic spectrum, making these active galaxies, or , some of the brightest sources in the cosmos.

While it is still unclear what activates these black holes, switching on and off their phase of intense accretion, it is likely that quasars play an important role in regulating the evolution of galaxies across cosmic history. For this reason, it is crucial to understand the relationship between quasars, their host galaxies, and their environment on even larger scales.

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Apr 17, 2019

Radical Environmentalism and Transhumanism: Symptoms of the Same Disease

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, geopolitics, life extension, singularity, transhumanism

A new story on my latest article from #transhumanism critic Wesley J. Smith:


Oh my. Two of contemporary society’s most prominent anti-human utopian movements — radical environmentalism and materialistic transhumanism — appear on the verge of a bitter showdown.

When you think about it, that makes sense. Both movements see themselves as the future’s only hope. But their core purposes are incompatible. Radical environmentalists — “nature rights” activists, deep ecologists, Gaia theorists, and their fellow travelers that elevate nature above humanity — hijacked and refashioned traditional environmentalism into a mystical neo-earth religion that disdains homo Sapiens as a parasitical species afflicting the earth. These radicals hope to thwart our thriving off the land in order to “save the planet.” Indeed, I sometimes believe that if they could, they would forcibly revert our species to hunter/gatherers — without the hunting part.

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Apr 17, 2019

Scientists reveal connection between cancer and human evolution

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, genetics

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have discovered that gene mutations that once helped humans survive may increase the possibility for diseases, including cancer.

The findings were recently the cover story in the journal Research.

The team of researchers from BGU’s National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN) set out to look for mutations in the genome of the , a part of every cell responsible for energy production that is passed exclusively from mothers to their children. The mitochondria are essential to every cell’s survival and our ability to perform the functions of living.

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Apr 17, 2019

How cancer was created by evolution

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution

The cells inside a tumour change and evolve just like animals in the wild. Understanding how this works could help us stop cancer in its tracks.

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Apr 15, 2019

The discrete-time physics hiding inside our continuous-time world

Posted by in categories: evolution, finance, physics, space

Scientists believe that time is continuous, not discrete—roughly speaking, they believe that it does not progress in “chunks,” but rather “flows,” smoothly and continuously. So they often model the dynamics of physical systems as continuous-time “Markov processes,” named after mathematician Andrey Markov. Indeed, scientists have used these processes to investigate a range of real-world processes from folding proteins, to evolving ecosystems, to shifting financial markets, with astonishing success.

However, invariably a scientist can only observe the state of a system at discrete times, separated by some gap, rather than continually. For example, a stock market analyst might repeatedly observe how the state of the market at the beginning of one day is related to the state of the market at the beginning of the next day, building up a conditional probability distribution of what the state of the second day is given the state at the first day.

In a pair of papers, one appearing in this week’s Nature Communications and one appearing recently in the New Journal of Physics, physicists at the Santa Fe Institute and MIT have shown that in order for such two– dynamics over a set of “visible states” to arise from a continuous-time Markov process, that Markov process must actually unfold over a larger space, one that includes hidden states in addition to the visible ones. They further prove that the evolution between such a pair of times must proceed in a finite number of “hidden timesteps”, subdividing the interval between those two times. (Strictly speaking, this proof holds whenever that evolution from the earlier time to the later time is noise-free—see paper for technical details.)

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Apr 10, 2019

Chinese Scientists Gene-Hacked Super Smart Human-Monkey Hybrids

Posted by in categories: cyborgs, evolution, genetics, neuroscience

But not everyone is on board.

“The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes linked to brain evolution is a very risky road to take,” University of Colorado geneticist James Sikela told the MIT Technology Review. “It is a classic slippery slope issue and one that we can expect to recur as this type of research is pursued.”

Pinpointing the gene’s role in intelligence could help scientists understand how humans evolved to be so smart, MIT Tech reports.

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Apr 7, 2019

Why Your Brain Hates Slowpokes

Posted by in categories: evolution, health, internet, neuroscience

“Why are we impatient? It’s a heritage from our evolution,” says Marc Wittmann, a psychologist at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health in Freiburg, Germany. Impatience made sure we didn’t die from spending too long on a single unrewarding activity. It gave us the impulse to act.


Not long ago I diagnosed myself with the recently identified condition of sidewalk rage. It’s most pronounced when it comes to a certain friend who is a slow walker. Last month, as we sashayed our way to dinner, I found myself biting my tongue, thinking, I have to stop going places with her if I ever want to … get there!

You too can measure yourself on the “Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale,” a tool developed by University of Hawaii psychologist Leon James. While walking in a crowd, do you find yourself “acting in a hostile manner (staring, presenting a mean face, moving closer or faster than expected)” and “enjoying thoughts of violence?”

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Apr 5, 2019

Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds

Posted by in categories: economics, evolution, genetics

Galor says the study results, published on Monday, April 1, in Nature Ecology & Evolution, lend credence to what he and a colleague had surmised in a highly influential 2002 paper — that during the pre-industrial era, the natural selection of those who were genetically predisposed toward having fewer children was instrumental in spurring industrialization and sustained economic growth.


In a study of 200 years of pre-industrial Quebecois genealogical history, researchers at Brown found that fertility-related changes in natural selection during the pre-industrial era paved the way for economic and technological progress.

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Apr 4, 2019

Freaky Eight-Letter DNA Could Be the Stuff Aliens Are Made Of

Posted by in categories: alien life, evolution, genetics

Conventional DNA is comprised of the familiar A, C, G, and T base pairs, but a newly created genetic system is packed with eight, thus doubling the number of letters normally found in self-replicating molecules. Intriguingly, the new system, dubbed “hachimoji,” could resemble the building blocks of extraterrestrial life.

New research published yesterday in Science describes the hachimoji, which means “eight letters” in Japanese. In addition to the conventional four base pairs, this genetic system has an extra four building blocks, dramatically increasingly the information density compared to regular DNA. The scientists behind the work, led by Steven Benner from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Alachua, Florida, said the new system may be robust enough to support life, that is, to support the processes required for Darwinian self-replication.

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Apr 4, 2019

Unknown Species of Ancient Four-Legged Whale Uncovered in Peru

Posted by in categories: biological, evolution

The discovery of a fossilized, 42-million-year-old, four-legged whale is shedding new light on the evolution and geographical spread of these aquatic mammals.

The ancestors of modern whales and dolphins evolved from a small, four-limbed hoofed animal that lived in south Asia around 50 million years ago, during the Eocene. Fossil evidence suggests these aquatic mammalian pioneers reached North America by 41.2 million years ago, swimming from West Africa across the Atlantic. The surprise discovery of a previously unknown, 42.6-million-year-old quadrupedal whale along the coast of Peru has resulted in an important addendum to this story: Ancient whales made South America, and not North America, their first home in the New World. Details of this discovery were published today in Current Biology.

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