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Showing posts with the label genetics

Early Birds, Unisex Fish

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We still don't know exactly how birds got their wings. Literally and figuratively. But we're learning more about when and how they started.

Scientists in Europe and China found fossils of birds that lived roughly 120,000,000 years ago.

Other scientists found genes with some 'feather' instructions in alligators. That's old news. What's new is that one team coaxed alligator embryo scales into growing as something like very simple feathers. Part of a simple feather, anyway.

I'll be talking about those birds, alligator feathers, and why discovering something new doesn't upset me. Also a chimp, the French Revolution something Benjamin Franklin said and evolution....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Art, Evolution and Aquinas

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Someone left stenciled handprints on Maltravieso Cave wall. Quite a few 'someones,' apparently.

Marking a wall can leave adolescent graffiti or murals like Orozco's "Omnisciencia."

I think it's a very "human" thing to do. So do scientists. That's why most figured the folks who made cave paintings were like us: Homo Sapiens. That may be so, but it's not what a new analysis shows.

If those stencils are as old as the research says they are, we're going to be reevaluating what "human" means. That got me thinking about art, being human, and a new species of bird that really is new. They didn't exist until a few decades back.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Editing Genes, Ethically

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Scientists at England's John Innes Centre learned how to grow plants that produce polio vaccine. That sounds like a very good idea, particularly since the process should work for other vaccines, too.

The other 'genetic engineering' news raises issues that can spark strong feelings: and should encourage serious thought.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

A Mixed Bag

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I picked a mix from 'science news' this week: tardigrade genes, fertility fears, and what is probably the world's oldest living culture.

Folks in Western civilization have known about our neighbors in Australia for about four centuries.

Understanding their beliefs became easier, I think, when some of us realized that respecting them makes sense.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Dealing With Cystic Fibrosis

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A "Benefit for Teri (Sanden) Starkey" notice was on the Our Lady of Angels bulletin board this Sunday.

The event was Saturday, July 29, and in Litchfield; a town south and a bit east of here, about an hour and half away.

I saw the notice a day late to do anything by Saturday, but figure I could pass along what I learned.

She has cystic fibrosis, and needs new lungs. The clinic in her area wouldn't or couldn't do the procedure.

The good news is that an outfit in North Carolina will. However, getting a chance to keep her alive means raising money to move her, her two kids, and husband, to North Carolina. That's something like a thousand miles away.

My guess is that the family has above-average medical expenses, too....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

First Americans?

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Scientists used new DNA screening tech to study caves in Belgium, Croatia, France, Russia, and Spain. What they found wasn't a big surprise. What's exciting about the news is that we now have another tool for unraveling our family history.

We've been pretty sure that nobody lived in North America until about two dozen millennia back. That may change, if scientists who say they found 130,000-year-old tools in San Diego County, California. Quite a few other scientists are dubious, understandably.

I took a longer look at what we've been learning about Homo naledi. They're folks who don't look like humanity's current model. We found their remains in a cave they probably used as a crypt.

Since you may be reading my stuff for the first time, I'll review why I think truth is important. All truth, not just the bits I grew up knowing about. Also why I take the Bible seriously, but not 'creation science.'...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

DNA and Cancer

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Apparently quiet a few sorts of cancer 'just happen,' no matter how much fiber we eat, how much we don't smoke, and how far we run each day.

Or exercise, in my case. Thanks in part to now-replaced defective hips, my running days never really happened.

That doesn't mean that we're all gonna die from random cancer. I think it means we should think about paying more attention to testing before symptoms appear....

After talking about oddly-under-reported 'cancer' news, I kept going; mostly about mutations, and why being healthy is okay...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Urban Evolution and Big Brains

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Life, and evolution, has been happening for quite a while. Cities are new, but the same processes happen there; with slightly different results. We're learning how urban environments affect critters, and are piecing together more of humanity's story....

...I see no problem with believing that God is creating a universe that's following knowable physical laws. That's just as well, since it's what we're told to believe....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Olive Threat, Ginkgo Genome

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Something's killing Europe's olive trees: a bacterium that's probably spread by insects. Scientists don't know how to stop the disease, not yet.

Other scientists analyzed the Ginkgo genome. What they found helps explain the tree's remarkable endurance.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Sweet Potatoes, Genes, and Long Life

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One woman decided to take a road trip after learning she had a terminal illness. Another switched careers. Both choices make sense, given the circumstances.

This year's World Food Prize goes to a team who developed a new sweet potato, scientists found a virus with spider genes, and there's a lively difference of opinion regarding human life span.

We've learned a lot since my youth, and there's a great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Bioethics and a Three-Parent Baby

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A Jordanian couple have a baby boy: who does not have a lethal genetic disorder, thanks to DNA transplanted from a third person. Four of his siblings did not survive the procedure.

I'll be talking about the decisions involved in that procedure, research involving "tiny brains" grown from human cells, genetically modified humans grown as research subjects, and water bears....

...After discussing recent genetics news, I'll share why I take human experimentation and medical ethics personally, and what I see coming in the near future....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

The Minden Monster, What Killed Lucy

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The 'Minden Monster,' a whacking great carnivore that lived about a hundred million years before T. Rex, is in the news again. Studying it will help scientists work out details of megalosaur development.

I'm fascinated by that sort of thing. Your experience may vary.

Other scientists think they know what killed Lucy, our name for a famous Australopithecus afarensis skeleton. It looks like Australopithecus afarensis was a little more at home in trees than we are.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Brogdar, Öetzi, and Piltdown Man

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Archeologists found a big stone structure buried under a 43-century-old garbage dump in the Orkney Islands.

Öetzi, Europe’s frozen mummy, got his wardrobe from many different critters: why, we don’t know.

Piltdown Man’s in the news again, too. Looks like Dawson was the only culprit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Bulldogs, Transgenics, and a Robot

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English Bulldogs aren’t what they used to be: which is a problem for folks who want the breed to survive. A team of scientists says that the British mascot’s bloodline is more than a bit too pure.

Other scientists developed MouSensor, mutant mice with open slots for plug and play genetic code.

Finally, a tiny robot with rat muscles that swims like a fish.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Early Agriculture, New Tech

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'Genetics news' caught my eye this week.

DNA from barley that's been sitting in a cave for six millennia is helping scientists learn about agriculture's origins.

A fits-in-your-hand Biomolecule Sequencer is at the International Space Station. If it works, folks up there won't have to send samples down for analysis.

Finally, the world's first farmers were an unexpectedly diverse lot....

...Science? In a "religion" blog??...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Synthetic Life, DNA Profiles

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Syn 3.0, developed by the Ventner Institute, has fewer genes than any 'wild' bacteria. The 'artificial' microcritter is another important step in understanding how life works.

On the other side of the Atlantic, folks in the United Kingdom will be deciding what to do about a bureaucratic SNAFU and their national DNA database....

...I've seen attitudes toward science and technology shift from silly optimism to equally-silly pessimism.

I am reasonably certainly that mutant safflowers won't destroy civilization. On the other hand, ethics matter as much now as they ever did....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

DNA, Headless Skeletons of York

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We've been learning quite a bit about humanity's family history recently: thanks partly to our increasingly-detailed knowledge of DNA and the human genome.

I'll be taking a look at what scientists are learning about Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxons, and headless skeletons....

...I'll also indulge in an uncharacteristically-terse (for me) explanation of what science is doing in a 'religious' blog....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mutant Medflies, GMO Mosquitoes

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First, the good news: releasing genetically-modified medflies and mosquitoes may mean fewer crop failures; and fewer deaths from malaria.

Now, the not-so-good news: I'm pretty sure some folks won't think it's good news....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Europe’s Complex Heritage

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I stopped using the term "Caucasian" several years ago. I've discussed the "Anglo-Teutonic" race, Neanderthals, and getting a grip, before. (September 25, 2015; October 31, 2014)

Turns out, folks from the Caucasus moved into Europe at least once — along with many other folks....

We're still learning about humanity's family history. It's a lot more complicated than we thought....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Pig Organs, Ancient Immigrants

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We're years away from safe pig-to-human organ transplants: but scientists using CRISPR gene editing tech are working toward that goal.

Other scientists are discovering a chapter of humanity's family history: Eurasian immigrants returning to Africa, when the Shang dynasty and Egyptian Empire collapsed.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.