The intermixing of modern humans and Neanderthals is back in the news: BBC News - DNA yields secrets of human pioneer. DNA analysis of a 45,000-year-old human has helped scientists pinpoint when our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals. The genome sequence from a thigh bone found in Siberia shows the first episode of mixing occurred between 50,000 … Continue reading Maybe we’ve found Neanderthals, and they are us.
For much of my adult life, I've had trouble sleeping throughout the night, often waking up in the early morning hours, unable to go back to sleep. On weekends or on vacation, I've simply gotten up, drank and/or ate something, maybe read a little bit, and then eventually gone back to sleep, knowing that I had … Continue reading The myth of the eight-hour sleep
Quentin Cooper, looking over a top 100 sci-fi movie list which has many questionable entries, ponders this question: BBC - Future - Why is science fiction so hard to define?. Time Out, the weekly listings magazine, recently ranked the 100 best sci-fi movies of all time. They did it by polling 150 “leading sci-fi experts, filmmakers, … Continue reading Most science fiction is actually a blend of scientific fiction and fantasy.
BBC Future has an article looking at how living in space might effect humans and society, and asking, among other things, should we have babies in space? “Mars,” sang Sir Elton John in Rocket Man, “ain't the kind of place to raise your kids.” Sir Elton might be lacking in Nasa-related experience, but he had a … Continue reading Interstellar travel: Raising children in space
BBC has an interesting article on the effects of culture on evolution. You shouldn't be able to drink milk. Your ancestors couldn't. It is only in the last 9,000 years that human adults have gained that ability without becoming ill. Children could manage it, but it was only when we turned to dairy farming that … Continue reading BBC – Future – How human culture influences our genetics
A while back I linked to a BBC story on the discovery that mice could pass on a learned fear of certain smells to their descendants. This is an almost Lamarckian observation, one that may indicate that the long discredited scientific theory of acquired traits being inheritable may have had a glimmer of truth. This … Continue reading Epigenetics: The sins of the father
BBC - Future - Science & Environment - Infographic: Absolute zero to ‘absolute hot’. The infographic at this link is worth checking out. A few observations: The temperatures are all in Celsius. Calling the Boomerang nebula the "coldest place in the universe" has always seemed a bit presumptuous to me. Still, the nebula is colder … Continue reading BBC – Future – Science & Environment – Infographic: Absolute zero to ‘absolute hot’
Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations. A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their "grandchildren". More at BBC News - 'Memories' pass between generations. I saw this yesterday, but was reluctant to link … Continue reading BBC News – ‘Memories’ pass between generations
In the discussion on my post on computer consciousness from the other day, my friend amanimal just provided the following link: BBC - Future - Technology - Is it OK to torture or murder a robot?. I think this powerfully corroborates my thesis in that post, but it also illustrates that I might have been … Continue reading BBC – Future – Technology – Is it OK to torture or murder a robot?
Appointment with the Doctor. I'm a big fan of Doctor Who. It's the longest running science fiction show on television (sorry Star Trek), and it often explores many concepts that American television won't touch. Tonight will be the 50th anniversary special, 'The Day of the Doctor', and I'm definitely looking forward to it! Related … Continue reading Appointment with the Doctor