Archive for the ‘evolution’ category

Jun 21, 2018

Is aging not scary? The children’s tales that are killing us

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

Today we will be taking a look at some of the stories people tell themselves to help them pretend aging is not a problem.

If you ask most people what they think about aging, they will shrug their shoulders and say that it is a natural process. With complete tranquility on their faces, they will agree that, yes, in old age, we are haunted by many diseases, but nothing can be done about it, so it makes no sense to worry about it while you are young and healthy. Just live your life.

Then, the conversation will turn towards an even stranger direction: they will start looking for something good about aging – for example, that it ensures a change of generations, prevents society from becoming stuck in obsolete ideas, and, in general, is the engine of evolution. They’ll explain that the notion of death gives meaning to life and makes us accomplish as much as possible in the little time we have.

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Jun 18, 2018

The Shift From 4G to 5G Will Change Just About Everything

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

Telecom experts are going so far as to herald the arrival of 5G as the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. There are an ever-expanding number of high-tech devices out there trying to connect to the internet every day, many of which require extensive bandwidth, and companies across the board will leverage 5G capabilities to better reach consumers.

“The application of 5G technology will result in massive changes for both consumers and enterprises,” said Jeff Weisbein, founder and CEO of digital media company Best Techie. “5G networks will offer consumers incredible broadband speeds at home (up to 20Gb/s). It will also enable companies to make advancements such as even smarter, better connected cars, advancements in medical technologies and improved retail experiences through personalization.”

5G refers to 5th-Generation Wireless Systems and uses additional spectrum in the existing LTE frequency range to build on the capabilities of 4G, which is often used interchangeably with 4G LTE by marketers. LTE denotes Long Term Evolution, and is a term that was deployed with early 4G networks that presented a substantial improvement on 3G, but did not fully qualify as 4G, meaning 4G LTE is essentially first-generation 4G.

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Jun 17, 2018

Four billion years of evolution in six minutes

Posted by in category: evolution

Did humans evolve from monkeys or from fish? In this enlightening talk, ichthyologist and TED Fellow Prosanta Chakrabarty dispels some hardwired myths about evolution, encouraging us to remember that we’re a small part of a complex, four-billion-year process — and not the end of the line. “We’re not the goal of evolution,” Chakrabarty says. “Think of us all as young leaves on this ancient and gigantic tree of life — connected by invisible branches not just to each other, but to our extinct relatives and our evolutionary ancestors.”

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Jun 16, 2018

For The First Time, Scientists Have Caught Bacteria “Fishing” For DNA From Their Dead Friends

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

“Horizontal gene transfer is an important way that antibiotic resistance moves between bacterial species, but the process has never been observed before, since the structures involved are so incredibly small,” said biologist Ankur Dalia of Indiana University Bloomington.

Bacteria are slippery little suckers. They evolve rapidly, developing resistance to antibiotics and therefore becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught on film one of the mechanisms the microbes use for this speedy evolution.

Two Vibrio cholerae bacteria — the pathogen responsible for cholera — sit under a microscope, glowing a vivid green. As we watch, a tendril snakes forth from one of the bacterium, harpooning a piece of DNA and carrying it back to its body.

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Jun 1, 2018

Neuroscientists Uncover the Roots of the Uniquely Large Human Brain

Posted by in categories: evolution, neuroscience

On Thursday, an international team of scientists announced a new explanation for the evolution of brain size expansion: Unique genes that, to date, have only been found in humans. They’re called NOTCHN2NL genes and so far the scientists have identified eight different versions of them.

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May 30, 2018

Galaxy simulations are at last matching reality—and producing surprising insights into cosmic evolution

Posted by in categories: evolution, particle physics, space, supercomputing

In general, modelers attack the problem by breaking it into billions of bits, either by dividing space into a 3D grid of subvolumes or by parceling the mass of dark and ordinary matter into swarms of particles. The simulation then tracks the interactions among those elements while ticking through cosmic time in, say, million-year steps. The computations strain even the most powerful supercomputers. BlueTides, for example, runs on Blue Waters—a supercomputer at the University of Illinois in Urbana that can perform 13 quadrillion calculations per second. Merely loading the model consumes 90% of the computer’s available memory, Feng says.

For years such simulations produced galaxies that were too gassy, massive, and blobby. But computer power has increased, and, more important, models of the radiation-matter feedback have improved. Now, hydrodynamic simulations have begun to produce the right number of galaxies of the right masses and shapes—spiral disks, squat ellipticals, spherical dwarfs, and oddball irregulars—says Volker Springel, a cosmologist at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany who worked on Millennium and leads the Illustris simulation. “Until recently, the simulation field struggled to make spiral galaxies,” he says. “It’s only in the last 5 years that we’ve shown that you can make them.”

The models now show that, like people, galaxies tend to go through distinct life stages, Hopkins says. When young, a galaxy roils with activity, as one merger after another stretches and contorts it, inducing spurts of star formation. After a few billion years, the galaxy tends to settle into a relatively placid and stable middle age. Later, it can even slip into senescence as it loses its gas and the ability make stars—a transition our Milky Way appears to be making now, Hopkins says. But the wild and violent turns of adolescence make the particular path of any galaxy hard to predict, he says.

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May 17, 2018

Astronomers release most complete ultraviolet-light survey of nearby galaxies

Posted by in categories: evolution, space

Capitalizing on the unparalleled sharpness and spectral range of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers is releasing the most comprehensive, high-resolution ultraviolet-light survey of nearby star-forming galaxies.

The researchers combined new Hubble observations with archival Hubble images for 50 star-forming spiral and dwarf in the local universe, offering a large and extensive resource for understanding the complexities of and . The project, called the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS), has amassed star catalogs for each of the LEGUS galaxies and cluster catalogs for 30 of the galaxies, as well as images of the galaxies themselves. The data provide detailed information on young, massive and star clusters, and how their environment affects their development.

“There has never before been a star cluster and a stellar catalog that included observations in ultraviolet light,” explained survey leader Daniela Calzetti of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “Ultraviolet light is a major tracer of the youngest and hottest star populations, which astronomers need to derive the ages of stars and get a complete stellar history. The synergy of the two catalogs combined offers an unprecedented potential for understanding star formation.”

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May 17, 2018

Selfish Ledger: Google’s mass sociology experiment

Posted by in categories: big data, complex systems, DNA, ethics, evolution, genetics, information science, internet, surveillance

Check out the internal Google film, “The Selfish Ledger”. This probably wasn’t meant to slip onto a public web server, and so I have embedded a backup copy below. Ping me if it disappears. I will locate a permanent URL.

This 8½ minute video is a lot deeper—and possibly more insipid—than it appears. Nick Foster may be the Anti-Christ, or perhaps the most brilliant sociologist of modern times. It depends on your vantage point, and your belief in the potential of user controls and cat-in-bag containment.

He talks of a species propelling itself toward “desirable goals” by cataloging, data mining, and analyzing the past behavior of peers and ancestors—and then using that data to improve the experience of each user’s future and perhaps even their future generations. But, is he referring to shared goals across cultures, sexes and incomes? Who controls the algorithms and the goal filters?! Is Google the judge, arbiter and God?

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May 7, 2018

Why does the microbiome affect behaviour?

Posted by in categories: evolution, neuroscience


The microbiota can influence host behaviour through the gut–brain axis. In this Opinion, Johnson and Foster explore the evolution of this relationship and propose that adaptations of competing gut microorganisms may affect behaviour as a by‑product, leading to host dependence.

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May 2, 2018

Why genetic IQ differences between ‘races’ are unlikely

Posted by in categories: evolution, genetics, neuroscience

The idea that intelligence can differ between populations has made headlines again, but the rules of evolution make it implausible.

Kevin Mitchell

Associate professor of genetics and neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin.

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