Pines, humans, genome…

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Older specimen of Pond Pine

Deciphering the genome of the loblolly pine is a tall order, as is perhaps fitting for a tree that can grow to be 30 meters in height.

Researchers sequenced the conifer’s (Pinus taeda) approximately 24 billion bases of DNA, Steven Salzberg of Johns Hopkins University reported May 10. That surpasses the previous record holder, wheat, by more than 7 billion bases. The DNA is distributed over 12 chromosomes, each about two-thirds the size of the entire human genome. [1]

If complexity is the way to measure evolution, what are we taught by the fact that some “lower level” organisms like plants have more complex genome than we do?

Having legs because we need to walk, or Walking because we have legs?

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The evolution of various organs of the human body is an essential part of the Theory of Evolution and a beloved theme for discussion among biologists.

We have many organs which seem evolved in exactly the way needed so as to allow them to perform their important mission.

We have legs which have evolved so as to support our walking.

It seems logical, but it may be not. Strangely enough, an idea which is lost in the abyss of time may shed new light to that notion.

It was Epicurus who postulated it: The organs ARE NOT evolved so as to support their functions, but the other way around! The functions are evolved BASED ON the organs we have available!

We do not have feet SO AS to walk!

We are walking BECAUSE we have feet.

Simple. And “liberating” in many ways…

Evil Sweden strikes back… (or: How to sterilize “inferior” people)

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Sweden had (from 1920s to 1970s) the best eugenics program in the world (i.e. compulsory sterilization of metally diseased, inferior and/ or “impure” citizens et cetera). They even “taught” Hitler, who actually asked for a copy of their eugenics law for his Reich…

Even though many other states had similar eugenica programs (including USA, Switzerland, Denmark etc) Sweden surpassed them all in duration and “quality”. But we shouldn’t be surprised. All these should be obvious, given that Sweden is the most “civilized” state in the world, a role model to which all western countries look up to.

Of course things are better now. Crude eugenics have stopped in order to be replaced with more… noble ones. For example people who wish to change their gender in Sweden (who is advertised as “gay friendly”) must get a divorce and be sterilized in order to be allowed to do so (see here).

The Devil always wears the best suit… Go go Sweden!

Indicative bibliography: 1235678910, 11, 12

PS. And no, this is not the fault of “science”! Unless you believe that the crusades are a fault of religion. But then again, this IS the fault of scientists!

EUGENICS GALLERY

Below you can find a collection of eugenics-related posters or related photos. Not forgetting the past is crucial for our progress as human beings…

Being good means being active. Society went the wrong way because many “decent” people just “did nothing” as some of their fellow humans were suffering. It is not just Hitler who was the bad guy. Sometimes it looks like Hitler was just a patsy for all other “civilized” countries to hide behind…

Open your eyes.

Non-competitive evolution, spaghetti, sauce…

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Άντε σύντομα και στον Μάγο… (Κύθηρα)

Scientists have long observed that species seem to have become increasingly capable of evolving in response to changes in the environment. But computer science researchers now say that the popular explanation of competition to survive in nature may not actually be necessary for evolvability to increase.

In a paper published this week in PLOS ONE, the researchers report that evolvability can increase over generations regardless of whether species are competing for food, habitat or other factors. [1]

Evolution without competition. Its like spaghetti without the sause.

We eat and like spaghetti for hunderds of years. But now that we don’t have the sauce, we realize that it was that sause we really liked… 😉

Chimp vs. Human child grammar…

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A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that children as young as 2 understand basic grammar rules when they first learn to speak and are not simply imitating adults. The study also applied the same statistical analysis on data from one of the most famous animal language-acquisition experiments (Project Nim) and showed that Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who was taught sign language over the course of many years, never grasped rules like those in a 2-year-old’s grammar. [1]

There goes the neighborhood…

Humans are similar to animals in many ways.

But what we many times fail to see, is how DIFFERENT we actually are…