Recycling… Identity issues…

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The secret to a long life? For worms, a cellular recycling protein is key. Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have shown that worms live longer lives if they produce excess levels of a protein, p62, which recognizes toxic cell proteins that are tagged for destruction. The discovery, published in Nature Communications, could help uncover treatments for age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which are often caused by accumulation of misfolded proteins.

“Research, including our own, has shown that lifespan can be extended by enhancing autophagy – the process cells use to degrade and recycle old, broken and damaged cell components”, says Malene Hansen, Ph.D., a professor in the Development, Aging and Regeneration Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys and senior author of the study. “Prior to this work, we understood that autophagy as a process was linked to aging, but the impact of p62, a selective autophagy protein, on longevity was unknown”. (1)

There you go.

Recycle old material and you will live longer.

But will that new ship built with new material be the same as the old ship which started the sail?

Will you recognize your mother when you get back home?

Questions we do not care about.

Because unfortunately modern man has chosen not to return home…

And on that new ship we set sails.

All into the dark sea.

Storm raging. Thunders and rain.

You believe these are obstacles toward your goal.

But they are just a calling back home…

Where our old ship is waiting.

To carry us where we need to go…

Reverse evolution 2.

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Turtle ant soldiers scuttle to and from sporting shiny, adorably oversized heads, which they use to block the entrances of their nests — essentially acting as living doors.

Not all heads are shaped alike: some soldiers have ones that resemble manhole covers and perfectly seal tunnel entrances. Others have square heads, which they assemble into multi-member blockades reminiscent of a Spartan army’s overlapping shields. TheThe shape and size of a turtle-ant soldier’s head is dictated by the type of tunnel the species in question occupies. The ants don’t dig the tunnels themselves, but move into those excavated by wood-boring beetles. And since a hand-me-down tunnel might be too big or too small, Kronauer says, the ants diversify rapidly to be able to occupy it.

To examine the evolutionary journey of various head shapes, the researchers grouped 89 species of turtle ants based on whether soldiers sported a square, dome, disc, or dish-shaped head. They also included a group of turtle-ant species that don’t have soldiers. They then examined the evolutionary relationships among these groups using the species’ genetic information, which they had previously gathered.

If evolution was a one-way path, the first turtle ants that appeared some 45 million years ago should have lacked soldiers altogether, then gradually evolved toward specialization — starting with the generalist, square-headed soldiers, all the way to those with highly-tailored dish heads.

But the new analysis suggests that this was not the case. Instead, the oldest common ancestor the researchers could trace likely had a square head. That ancestor went on to form a range of species, from ones with no soldiers at all to others with different levels of specialization. In some cases, more specialist species reversed direction over time, evolving back into more generalist head shapes. (1)

But you cannot adapt!

Unless you have already done so…

At the end, even the trees will die.

And your big question will be answered.

And as you leave your last breath.

Right next to some dead ants running.

A smile will spread across your face.

I will never change!

I have adapted!

I will not live for ever!

Inevitable life. Inevitable death…

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To help answer one of the great existential questions — how did life begin? — a study combines biological and cosmological models. Professor Tomonori Totani from the Department of Astronomy looked at how life’s building blocks could spontaneously form in the universe — a process known as abiogenesis.

As the only life we know of is based on Earth, studies on life’s origins are limited to the specific conditions we find here. Therefore, most research in this area looks at the most basic components common to all known living things: ribonucleic acid, or RNA. This is a far simpler and more essential molecule than the more famous deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, that defines how we are put together. But RNA is still orders of magnitude more complex than the kinds of chemicals one tends to find floating around in space or stuck to the face of a lifeless planet.

“In contemporary cosmology, it is agreed the universe underwent a period of rapid inflation producing a vast region of expansion beyond the horizon of what we can directly observe. Factoring this greater volume into models of abiogenesis hugely increases the chances of life occuring.”, a researcher explained.

Indeed, the observable universe contains about 10 sextillion (10^22) stars. Statistically speaking, the matter in such a volume should only be able to produce RNA of about 20 nucleotides. But it’s calculated that, thanks to rapid inflation, the universe may contain more than 1 googol (10^100) stars, and if this is the case then more complex, life-sustaining RNA structures are more than just probable, they’re practically inevitable. (1)

Inevitable life, we say.

Sounds like a joke.

Driving you away from home.

And day by day, you forget.

That there was a time when life was not.

At an era when existence was a fault.

Feel your own self.

Ask the right questions.

Inevitable life.

Inevitable death!

In the midst of the storm…

Can you stop laughing?

Evolution. Dark DNA.

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Scientists long assumed that new genes appear when evolution tinkers with old ones. There are studies suggesting that genes do not always evolve from existing ones, as biologists long supposed. Instead, some are fashioned from desolate stretches of the genome that do not code for any functional molecules. For example in the fish genomes, there are hints that this might be the case: the antifreeze protein — essential to the cod’s survival — has seemingly been built from scratch. (1)

In other news, a research group has discovered a novel cancer-driving mutation in the vast non-coding regions of the human cancer genome, also known as the ‘dark matter’ of human cancer DNA. (2)

Funny, but (philosophically) totally expected.

It is not the useful which produces something useful.

Look from a distance and you will see.

Everything is useless. Until they are useful in some way.

Everything is useful. Until they stop being such.

Stop defining something from its results.

And you will see light even in the deepest darkness…

Why doesn’t any animal have three legs?

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If ‘Why?’ is the first question in science, ‘Why not?’ must be a close second. Sometimes it’s worth thinking about why something does not exist. Such as a truly three-legged animal. At least one researcher has been pondering the non-existence of tripeds.

“Almost all animals are bilateral,” he said. The code for having two sides to everything seems to have got embedded in our DNA very early in the evolution of life — perhaps before appendages like legs, fins or flippers even evolved. Once that trait for bilateral symmetry was baked in, it was hard to change.

With our built-in bias to two-handedness, it can be hard to figure out how a truly three-legged animal would work — although that has not stopped science fiction writers from imagining them. Perhaps trilateral life has evolved on Enceladus or Alpha Centauri (or Mars!) and has as much difficulty thinking about two-limbed locomotion as we do thinking about three.

This kind of thought experiment is useful for developing our ideas about evolution, Thomson said. (1)

How fascinating.

Everything started with Nothing.

Then One came into existence.

We are still in the phase of Two…

And there is no way to get any further.

For going further means that we get to three.

And from there infinity is one step away.

Leading to nothing more than zero once again…

But there is no infinity.

There is no two.

Not even One.

For only everything exists.

Infinity!

In the palm of a small kid…

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