Tag Archives | Science

New study hints at spontaneous appearance of primordial DNA

The image shows a droplet of condensed nano-DNA and within it smaller drops of its liquid crystal phase which show up in polarized light on the left. The liquid crystal droplets act as “micro-reactors" where short DNA can join together into long polymer chains without the aid of biological mechanisms. Credit: Noel Clark, University of Colorado

The image shows a droplet of condensed nano-DNA and within it smaller drops of its liquid crystal phase which show up in polarized light on the left. The liquid crystal droplets act as “micro-reactors” where short DNA can join together into long polymer chains without the aid of biological mechanisms.
Credit: Noel Clark, University of Colorado

Noel Clark Via Phys.org:

The self-organization properties of DNA-like molecular fragments four billion years ago may have guided their own growth into repeating chemical chains long enough to act as a basis for primitive life, says a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Milan.

While studies of ancient mineral formations contain evidence for the evolution of bacteria from 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago—just half a billion years after the stabilization of Earth’s crust—what might have preceded the formation of such unicellular organisms is still a mystery. The new findings suggest a novel scenario for the non-biological origins of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of living organisms, said CU-Boulder physics Professor Noel Clark, a study co-author.

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To Protect Ourselves From Bioweapons, We May Have to Reinvent Science Itself

Bioweapons are so scary you barely want to think about them. Regardless there are plenty of scientists who are spending an awful lot of time doing just that, per Defense One, raising the question of whether or not this is ethical scientific research:

In January 2012, a team of researchers from the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin published a paper in the journal Science about airborne transmission of H5N1 influenza, or bird flu, in ferrets. The article changed the way the United States and nations around the world approached manmade biological threats.

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This was not the researchers’ intent.

The team had altered the virus’s amino acid profile, allowing it to reproduce in mammal lungs, which are a bit colder than bird lungs. That small change allowed the virus to be transmitted via coughing and sneezing, and it solved the riddle of how H5N1 became airborne in humans.

The U.S.

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Delusions in Science and Spirituality

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Charles Richet: “The improbabilities of today are the elementary truths of tomorrow.”

Myth has its charms, but the truth is far more beautiful. – J. Robert Oppenheimer

It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth.* There is a quiet intellectual war going on; the naked truth is a fatality in the battle for scientific and philosophical supremacy. Since this book is about the “ongoing search for fundamental farces” let me open with this. Around the time I began writing Delusions in Science and Spirituality, a congressman from my own state (Georgia), Paul Broun, who is also a medical doctor, publicly announced, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and big bang theory—all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” adding, “Global warming is a trick.” Broun, as it happens, sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

*Winston Churchill’s famous words reflected his belief that in time of war the truth is so precious that it must be guarded by a posse of lies.… Read the rest

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Chilean artist Cecilia Avendaño’s strange and evocative portraits

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Cecilia Avendaño Bobillier. Santiago, Chile 1980.

Cecilia Avendaño Bobillier graduated from University of Chile where she studied visual arts and photography. Cecilia began exhibiting her work in 2002, participating in numerous group exhibitions in Chile and abroad. She’s participated in outstanding one person shows including Sala Cero at Animal Gallery, National Museum of Fine Arts, as well as BAC! Festival in Barcelona’s MACBA, Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of Chile, Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires Argentina. Her most recent work includes digital post production operations on photography where she composes images that become portraits, but operates with different concepts related to identity construction. She has been selected twice for the National Fund FONDART, plus obtaining the second place in the art contest “Artists of the XXI Century” organized by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and Banco Santander. She currently lives and works in Santiago, Chile.

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Portrait by Tomas Eyzaguirre

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EMERGE / CECILIA AVENDAÑO.Read the rest

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The Alien God Species

alien god 300The Alien God Species – The Watchers are HERE!

There is a species of extraterrestrials that are often referred to as being mythological, but, in fact, are very real. I call them “The Watchers” or “The God Species.” I know this because I believe I encountered one, and it altered my entire reality. At first and for the longest time, I believed my encounter was with a UFO. It wasn’t until years later that I deduced it was an entity, and that it was here for me. “Why me?” It’s as if someone lifted a curtain, wanting to reveal to me a certain amount of esoteric knowledge. I’ve read that this is rare but that throughout history this is the way it has always been done.

In most esoteric belief systems it usually takes years of disciplined meditation, study, ritual, or by other means to attain this secret knowledge. For the chosen few, the circumstances are frequently described similarly: a light coming down from the sky, an entity materializes often with a vision or a message.… Read the rest

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Brain’s ‘Gender’ May Be Quite Flexible: Mechanism That Plays Key Role in Sexual Differentiation of Brain Described

Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

During prenatal development, the brains of most animals, including humans, develop specifically male or female characteristics. In most species, some portions of male and female brains are a different size, and often have a different number of neurons and synapses. However, scientists have known little about how this differentiation occurs. Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has illuminated details about this process.

Margaret McCarthy, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Pharmacology, studied brain development in newborn rats. She found that giving estradiol, a testosterone derivative, triggers a mechanism by which certain genes in the brain are “unsilenced,” allowing them to initiate the process of masculinization. This process involves a group of enzymes known as DNA methyltransferases, or Dnmts, which modify DNA to repress gene expression.

The paper was published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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‘Exploding Head Syndrome’ More Common in Young People

Geert König (CC BY 2.0)

Geert König (CC BY 2.0)

via EurekAlert:

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University researchers have found that an unexpectedly high percentage of young people experience “exploding head syndrome,” a psychological phenomenon in which they are awakened by abrupt loud noises, even the sensation of an explosion in their head. Brian Sharpless, a Washington State University assistant professor and director of the university psychology clinic, found that nearly one in five — 18 percent — of college students interviewed said they had experienced it at least once. It was so bad for some that it significantly impacted their lives, he said. “Unfortunately for this minority of individuals, no well-articulated or empirically supported treatments are available, and very few clinicians or researchers assess for it,” he said.

The study also found that more than one-third of those who had exploding head syndrome also experienced isolated sleep paralysis, a frightening experience in which one cannot move or speak when waking up.… Read the rest

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The Hotly Contested Link Between Science Denial and Conspiracy Theories

Interesting link between denial of science and predilection for conspiracy theories via the Washington Post:

In 2013, the University of Bristol psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and colleagues published two papers containing a provocative claim: A tendency to endorse conspiracy theories, they suggested, makes people more likely to challenge various aspects of science, too. Across the two papers, they linked conspiratorial beliefs to science rejection on no less than five issues: climate change, vaccines, genetically modified organisms, and the ties between HIV and AIDS and smoking and lung cancer.

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Since then, the research has been widely discussed and criticized — particularly the conclusion about climate science rejection — and now, the intensity of the debate seems set to go up yet another notch. The reason is that the journal Psychological Science has just published two papers on the matter: one, a statistical critique of the Lewandowsky papers, and the other a response from Lewandowsky and his co-authors (also discussed in a blog post here).

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