Getting Real With Ethics (via azspot)
The Russian billionaire talks immortality, the Dalai Lama, and lifelike robotic heads
Seen on Drudge Report’s Official Mobile App.
It is reasonably well known among evangelical Christians that all living humans trace their mitochondrial DNA back to a single woman (a so-called “mitochondrial Eve”) and that all living males similarly trace their Y-chromosome DNA back to a single male (a so-called “Y-chromosome Adam”). These individuals are commonly assumed by evangelicals to be the Biblical Adam and Eve, the first humans alive and the progenitors of the entire human race. While most young-earth and old-earth creationist organizations make this claim, perhaps one of the best-known organizations to do so is the old-earth creationist / anti-evolution organization Reasons to Believe, who have produced numerous articles, podcasts, and even entire books on the subject.
In contrast to this common evangelical understanding, the scientific picture is rather different. Mitochondrial Eve, though the most recent common matrilineal ancestor of all humans, was but one of a large population living about 180,000 years ago. So too for Y-chromosome Adam: he was also a member of a large population, and he lived about 50,000 years ago. As has been discussed several times here at BioLogos, there are multiple lines of evidence that indicate the human population has never been below around 10,000 members at any time in its history: we branched off as a large population to form our own species.
When presented with the evidence for human population sizes over our evolutionary history, a common point of confusion for evangelicals is how this evidence fits with Mitochondrial Eve. How can we all come from one woman (and one man) but also come from a large population of 10,000 individuals? Aren’t these two observations in conflict?
The answer is no, these lines of evidence fit together. Humans do come from a large population, and all present-day humans do inherit mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA from specific individuals in the past.
A Telescope For the People, By The People
Check out Planetary Resources, Inc. (the folks behind that super-cool asteroid mining venture!) and their newly announced project to crowdfund a space telescope. This small (8”) scope will be a fully functional eye on the cosmos, and Planetary Resources is asking for your help to get it built. Check out their Kickstarter page to donate!
What’s the benefit of donating? If you give more than $25, you get your picture projected on a tiny screen in front of the telescope, and a keepsake photo of you with the Earth in the background. That definitely beats that Instagram you took this weekend! Even better, classrooms and scientists will be able to buy time on the telescope to look at, well, whatever they want to!
I suspect they won’t have any trouble reaching their goal of $1 million. We are on the brink of some amazing new adventures in private space missions, and this is an inspiring sign of things to come.
Phil Plait has more coverage here, and here’s Bill Nye and PRI’s Peter Diamandis talking about the Arkyd 100:
Keep looking up!
filedunderaaron: Chekov please.
If you have ever (for whatever reason – that’s none of our business) locked yourself in a dark closet and peeled Scotch tape from its holder, you may have noticed a tiny bit of light. The tape actually emits a faint luminescence when it’s being separated. It’s due to a phenomenon known as triboluminescence, which has been documented as far back as the 17th century. In the 1950s, Soviet researchers claimed that unrolling sticky tape resulted also in the release of X-rays, but no one really bothered to follow up on that study until now.
A group of researchers at UCLA decided to test the X-ray claims recently. Using a machine to unroll the tape at 3 centimeters/second in a vacuum, they measured the electromagnetic output. The short bursts of X-rays lasted for about a billionth of a second each and output 300,000 X-ray photons. The researchers were even able to prove the presence of the X-rays by producing pictures of their finger bones. There’s no need to worry about getting a super-dose of radiation while taping the paper on birthday presents, though; the phenomenon seems to work only when the tape is in a vacuum.
The applications for this new knowledge are kind of sketchy at this point. The research team thinks that it may be useful for making cheaper X-ray machines or even for aiding in nuclear fusion. Both seem a little far-fetched, but harnessing this little-understood physical phenomenon may even create new, unforeseen possibilities in the future.
“Brittany Wenger isn’t your average high-school senior: She taught the computer how to diagnose leukemia.
The 18-year-old student from Sarasota, Fla. built a custom, cloud-based “artificial neural network” to find patterns in genetic expression profiles to diagnose patients with an aggressive form of cancer called mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL). Simply put, this means Wenger taught the computer how to diagnose leukemia by creating a diagnostic tool for doctors to use.”
Eff. Yes. This girl is such a bad-ass.
Anjan Contractor’s 3D food printer might evoke visions of the “replicator” popularized in Star Trek, from which Captain Picard was constantly interrupting himself to order tea. And indeed Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer.