Monday, March 21, 2016

News Briefs

Ancestors of Modern Humans Interbred With Extinct Hominins, Study Finds

Our ancestors were gettin' funky with eachother.  

Apparently, there's been some evidence that our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals and other extinct humans known as Denisovans.  Why is this a surprise?  I have no idea.  We have known for ages (admittedly or not) that humans like to "get it on."  

According to the studies, interbreeding in this way may have given humans genes that bolstered immunity to pathogens.  Many of us carry DNA from these other races.

In 2010, some clues to these ancient interbreeding "practices" came through the study of some modern humans (mostly European) and the discovery that these humans carried Neanderthal DNA.

                                                              - "How YOU doin'?"

Scientists suspect that interbreeding has occurred with several other extinct races as well.  For example, after studying the genomes of African pygmies, it was discovered that their genomes contained pieces of DNA from an unknown source which manifested within the last 30,000 years. 

In my opinion, it seems obvious that there would have been interbreeding among our modern human ancestors and other races as well.  As a matter of scientific fact, it seems as though it may have been a positive thing for us regarding our immunity to pathogens (and who know what else?).  It just goes to show that maybe our perceived "differences" are just that - perceived.

It will be interesting to see how much more we will learn about this subject through future studies.

- Sheena

Blue Light Helps Mice find Memories 

Scientists at MIT have found a way to probe nerve endings in lil mice "engineered" to have something akin to alzheimer's, nerve endings that then reform previously lost memories.

I'm waiting in line with some friends, and we are all very excited. This week the lights will make us remember our first encounter with our own genius, feeling out a sound, feeling out command over it. It's Bach's birthday and the lights today will have live in us that first command. When his music clicked, our music clicked, we will live the moment for $15. Last month the lights danced and we were Alexander, and I still have nightmares. 

Blue flashes of light target specific cells in the brain which scientist have found to be key in memory activity. They were able to track down memories to these cells. That's incredible, that somewhere in the brain there's a lil house for your memories, a real one made of you. A real one made of mouse. Blue lights dance and the mice remember; "not that door" they think, they remember the pain of that door. Maybe remembering the pain is the same as feeling it, maybe it just hurts. 

I'm slouched over my panel, hands over the board, fingers pacing as though ready to sprint, and I forget what I'm doing. I check blood sugar levels, and I don't think Im hungry. I check heart rate, and I check my to-do list. Normal, nothing. I tap on the blue switch by the black nap switch, and the lights dance in my eyes for a second. Mom, message. Message mom. Why? I'll ask her. "Lemme check" she messages back from down the hall. I hear the lights go off in her eyes, hear them too loud, gotta get that fixed. "It's my birthday!" she messages back. "Happy Birthday!" I sing and record it and it send down to her.  

Memories in the mice resuscitated by the light were all based on fear training. The revenant memories lasted shortly then faded once more. Soon scientists were able to find the reason for the fading, and through more careful use of the blue light found ways to reverse the cellular damage they'd engineered in the mice and strengthen their brain's ability to hold on to the memories.

I sit with her, right by her bed. The lights they sing. She sings my name perfectly and we are both very happy. 

This is an amazing advancement in our understanding of memory and the brain, and a huge step forward in the fight against destructive memory disorders. The concreteness with which a memory can be treated in the brain was surprising to me, and a little scary. There's probably a lil light for every nerve, and I suppose we'll be finding them.


Gotta Catch 'Em All

I am a shameless geek. Pokemon is awesome! Here's the story...

When you turn ten years old, you set off on an adventure. Your local researcher gives you your very first pokemon. You travel the world, catching wild pokemon, battling trainers... It's sooo beautiful isn't it???

Too bad it isn't real!!! :(...

YET! ...

Pokemon Go is a smartphone game that will allow us to simulate the world of Pokemon in our everyday lives. Just as you would randomly encounter wild pokemon when traveling in the game, so will you encounter them virtually, as you navigate the real world. Locations in the real world will have corresponding locations in the virtual world, where you will be able to find specific items and specific pokemon (guess I'll have to go to the Staten Island dump to catch a Muk). Also, you will be able to battle anyone with Pokemon Go on their own smartphone! Unfortunately, however, I do not think there will be any Pokemon Centers where people with the game can eat and sleep for free... *sigh* Guess we can't have it all.

Anyway, the game is still in its beta stages, so we will have to wait a while before we are able to neglect all our responsibilities in a vain attempt to relive our childhoods. There are plenty of rumors floating around on the internet, but the only concrete news we've had recently is that the game's creator's are currently looking for a beta team in Japan. This beta team will be responsible for checking the game for bugs, and making suggestions based on their experiences during gameplay.

"They" (Nintendo and The Pokemon Company) say that we can expect to see the final version of Pokemon Go in The App Store and Google Play later this year. Which means that we'll see the real thing some time within the next two years. But hopefully, it is not so. Pokemon Go was announced back in September 2015 with the promise of a 2016 release. All the pokegeeks out there are hoping that "they" don't let us down, and that this Japanese beta team is a good omen.

As we wait, check out the bombshell "they" dropped on us, and let's experience the palpable anxiety together...

I want to be the very best that no one ever was...

~ Clinton

1 comment:

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