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Large Individual Differences Seen in Human Genome

first_imgWhat makes each individual unique?  Nature1 reported a surprising thing about “the” human genome that is becoming apparent as more individuals’ genes are examined.  The first part is not surprising; the last part is:When the finished sequence of the human genome was unveiled last year, biologists said that it told a story of harmony for the human family.  Every one of us, it turns out, shares 99% of our DNA with all the other people on Earth. But it’s our differences that really fascinate us.  And at last week’s annual genome meeting in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, scientists revealed a wealth of data indicating a surprising conclusion about human diversity – much of it might be explained by large structural differences between individual genomes, not by tiny differences in individual genes.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Some of us have more copies of a gene than others do.  That’s just the beginning, Erika Check reports from the meeting: “we also have varying numbers of deletions, insertions and other major rearrangements in our genomes.”    Check claims that some of these differences are being acted on by natural selection.  Europeans, for instance, have an inversion not seen in Africans or Asians that is correlated with having more children, “a classic sign that the inversion confers an evolutionary advantage”.  Others at the meeting were also confident that “structural differences are important in human evolution,” and that among sections where there were differing numbers of copies of stretches of DNA, “natural selection is actively working on these genes.”What’s more, he [Duc-Quang Nguyen, U of Oxford] found that many of these genes belong to groups that seem to help us interact with our environment.  For instance, many work in the immune system, and affect how we fight off disease.  These are exactly the sort of genes that could explain our diversity – why some of us get asthma when exposed to air pollution, or why some of us can eat plenty of cheeseburgers without gaining weight.    “We knew these variations existed, but this year we’re asking, do they matter?” says Ewan Birney, head of bioinformatics for the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, based in Cambridge, UK.  “The answer seems to be yes.”    We’re still one human family, of course; but our DNA landscapes are a lot more varied than we had thought.1Erika Check, “Large genomic differences explain our little quirks,” Nature 435, 252-253 (19 May 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435252b.DNA keeps surprising us.  The old picture of a relatively static library occasionally mutating to provide grist for natural selection is out.  Now, we see that even among our own species – all of us being interfertile – there are remarkable differences not in just a DNA letter here or there, but in whole stretches of DNA sometimes 100 base pairs long or more.  What this all means is not clear.  It may be that most of our genomes cannot tolerate much divergence (see 11/26/2004 entry), but a certain fraction can vary quickly to provide robustness against changing environments and diets as people groups migrate into new areas.  If so, thank God for this variability.  Consider the differences in habitat between the frozen tundra, rain forest, the Sahara, grasslands, Asian steppes, forests and coastlands.  The food available, air pressure, climate, insolation and biota can vary considerably.  But even that explanation is simplistic; Americans go on vacation to Iceland, China and the Serengeti, don’t they?  And international marriages usually produce offspring possessing “fitness,” whatever that is (see 10/29/2002 entry, “Fitness for Dummies: Is it Running in Circles?”).    Darwinists cannot claim they understand this variability any more than anyone else; that is why Check calls this a “surprising conclusion.”  Thankfully, it is still politically correct for her to say, “We’re still one human family, of course.”  But this knowledge through a Darwin filter could feed a new eugenics (compare 04/22/2004 and 10/12/2001 entries).  When Darwinists claim that certain genes are being acted on by natural selection, some individuals are going to appear more fit than others.  Certain gene patterns may be deemed unfit to reproduce.  Don’t think we’ve learned our lesson and are beyond that.  One only has to visualize North Korea (02/11/2005 commentary) to consider how such information could be quickly twisted for evil.  “Diversity” is the politically-correct word now, but “Unity” is potentially just as potent a rallying cry for demagogues.    Associating a DNA inversion to more fecundity is unwarranted.  There are many more factors than one stretch of DNA entering the picture of reproduction rates.  If that were true, why are Europeans having so few kids, and worrying about their countries being overrun with foreigners?  Africans and Asians seem to be overcrowding their parts of the world just fine without the inversion.  The claim overlooks the many social, moral, religious, pragmatic and economic factors that go into the equation.  Darwinists bluff about selection pressure and genes undergoing active selection when the picture is far too complex to draw such conclusions (see, for instance, 03/28/2005 and 01/17/2005 entries).  They can’t even get one mutation in one gene to correlate well with fitness (see 02/04/2005 and 09/07/2004 entries), let alone large structural variations.  Besides, the genome itself appears to be a pawn in the hands of numerous, complex epigenetic regulatory factors (see 06/03/2004 and 10/27/2004 entries).  The new data about human genomic variability should remain fair game for all honest scientists, especially those outside wearing designer lab coats instead of Darwin-brand straitjackets.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

How Did Primitive Organisms Learn Physics?

first_img(Visited 438 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Inspiring cases of ballistics, civil engineering and architecture can be found in some of the simplest of living organisms.Fungus ballistics. When people say, “There’s a fungus among us,” they don’t usually mean it as a compliment. Perhaps they would if they watched the cannons they build to launch their spores. New Scientist says they have a really cool method of triggering their cannons: raindrops. Leah Crane reports that the secret has eluded a complete explanation for a century, till recently scientists at the University of North Carolina figured it out.Biologists have long known that the mechanism involved two drops of water interacting with the half-egg shape of spores launched in this way: an elongated drop that forms on its flat side, and a small spherical drop called a Buller’s drop that sits near the rounded base of the spore….When the drops merge, the loss in surface area releases some of the energy that was maintaining surface tension in the original drops. That is converted into the kinetic energy required to launch the spore away from its parent fungus.The secret might find application in creating self-cleaning surfaces, Crane writes. Another fungal secret was revealed on Phys.org. How do wood rot fungi consume wood, when no other organism has figured out how to tap into that energy source?  They use a “biomass conversion too” that basically uses chemistry, not enzymes (although enzymes are made and used in the process). Chelators get into the cell wall and disrupt it so that the fungi can get to the good stuff and eat it. Janet Lathrop shares how important fungi are to the forest ecosystem.Venus Flower Basket, Credit: Kesari Lab/Brown UniversitySponge civil engineering. Sea sponges seem like the last things you would go to for inspiration about engineering, but Phys.org suggests we take a new look in an article titled, “Learning new tricks from sea sponges, nature’s most unlikely civil engineers.” Taken from Michael A. Mon’s piece at The Conversation, this article explains how sponges achieve a desirable trade-off between strength and light weight.Unlike a soft, squishy kitchen sponge, the marine sponge that I study, Euplectella aspergillum, is stiff and strong. It has an amazingly complex skeleton that consists of an intricate assembly of fibers, known as spicules, no larger than a human hair. Their structural function is much like that of the thousands of beams that make up the Eiffel Tower.Given the praise he heaps on what simple sponges can do, it seems odd he takes time out to preach a sermon on natural selection: “through natural selection, organisms with better designs often outlive those with worse ones and hand off the blueprints of those designs to their offspring through genetic inheritance.” Maybe he is emphasizing it because readers wouldn’t believe it.Protein architects. Proteins are only parts of cells within organisms, but they are master architects. They build clathrin cages in nerve cells, and viruses (not even organisms) pack DNA tightly in icosahedral containers. A paper in PNAS, “Beyond icosahedral symmetry in packings of proteins in spherical shells,” explains the significance of learning how these miniature machines achieve what they do:The design and construction of man-made structures at microscopic scales are one of the key goals of modern nanotechnology. With nature as inspiration, synthetic biological building blocks have recently been designed that self-assemble into quasi-spherical shells or cages. Whereas many natural protein building blocks self-assemble into highly symmetric ordered shells (e.g., viruses), our study shows that surprisingly even a small amount of (unavoidable) flexibility in the synthetic building blocks leads to stable disordered configurations. Our work provides a new design paradigm: Modulating the flexibilities of the components, one can control the regularity of the packing and, consequently, the surface properties of a synthetic cage.The authors find that “optimizing those flexibilities can be a possible design strategy to obtain regular synthetic cages with full control over their surface properties.”How did the simplest of living things come up with technologies our top scientists cannot yet duplicate? Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of intelligent design.last_img read more

Welcome to Play your part

first_imgThis is a national initiative by Brand South Africa powered by the organisation For Good to encourage all South Africans – from businesses to individuals, NGOs to government, churches to schools, young and not so young – to contribute to positive change, to become involved, to simply play a part.Through our unique South African spirit of ubuntu and our innate creativity, we hope to bring together like-minded individuals, communities and companies so that we may all become active citizens. Play your part in giving someone a helping hand, donating time and resources, providing the know-how to start a business or an opportunity to kick-start a career. We all have our part to play, big or small.With the 35th anniversary of the Soweto uprisings approaching on 16 June, celebrate what South African youth have achieved. In 1976 they were young, today they are heroes. Everyone needs a hero. You are young now, whose hero will you be one day? Play your part and become that hero … because even heroes have to start somewhere.Play your part today and let us drive this initiative forward into the bright, promising future of ‘South Africa our land’.last_img read more

Present perfect of Rajasthan

first_imgFatehgarh Heritage Renaissance Resort in Udaipur uses wind and solar energyFew states of India are as evocative as Rajasthan–the very name conjures up images of medieval forts and flamboyant palaces, havelis and temples, castles on hilltops, picturesque villages and colourful fairs. Today, keeping with the times, Rajasthan’s heritage entrepreneurs are incorporating audio-tours, son et lumiore, alternative technologies for power generation or water harvesting. Nowhere is the change more apparent than in the cities of Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur.Udaipur updateA cooking demonstration in progress at Deogarh MahalUdaipur has long been the epitome of Rajasthan’s romance since an island palace of the Maharanas was converted into the stunningly beautiful hotel with five-star trappings. One of the most exciting new heritage developments of Udaipur is Fatehgarh Heritage Renaissance Resort built from the remains of a demolished castle moved to the site from about 150 km away, supplemented with architectural fragments and doors from other heritage properties. Climb to the terrace and the glass-walled restaurant offers a breathtaking view of the lakes. There is much focus on eco and social conscious measures–an energy efficient design that makes the most of air movement and natural light, a wind turbine and solar panels that account for more than half the power consumption of the property, a water harvesting system inspired by medieval stepwell architecture, indigenous plantations to make a home for wildlife, local employment and a focus on using locally available materials. Vintage collections are still popular in the StateIf you are looking for a place to dine on a romantic night out, Udaipur is becoming known for those too–the Whistling Teal is a beautiful garden restaurant with a bar furnished with saddles and a coffee lounge; the park-like Ambrai has a view across the lake to the island palaces, the aptly named Sunset View Terrace in the City Palace complex, and the recently opened Raaj Bagh, which, as the name suggests, is done in colonial style with old dressers, antique furniture and vintage cars in a covered area.Like the properties, Udaipur’s shopping scene is also taking a modern twist–the Bougainvillaea Art Gallery showcases contemporary paintings, sculpture and artworks in aesthetically pleasing interiors with an ambience to match, Andraab is an attractive showroom recently opened for Kashmiri shawls and other handcrafted textile products, the trendy Ganesh Art Emporium, the Pristine Gallery, and galleries of individual artists.New entriesTraditional food is still popular in the StateAs you head up NH-8 from Udaipur towards Delhi, you come to one of Rajasthan’s most fairy-tale heritage hotels–Deogarh Mahal which rises from an elevation in the middle of a village with hill views from its terraces. The 50 rooms are imaginatively designed to match the character of the property. For something more exclusive, head for the owner’s four-suite Fort Seengh Sagar set amid shimmering waters. The decor is Rajasthani yet chic and minimalistic, with rooms having distinctive features–a fountain, a rockery, a temple, stone art and even a jacuzzi.Jodhpur jauntRamgarh Lodge near Jaipur is now a Gateway HotelStraight out of a storybook is Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort, built in AD 1459. The new thing about the historical site is an audio-guided tour that will take you through the collections in the museum of princely memorabilia. At the end of the tour you come to the splendidly designed Museum Shop, which blends the fort’s old-world charm with contemporary visual merchandising to display art, artefacts, handicrafts, porcelain, jewellery, clothing and souvenirs. The display prompted an international magazine writer equalling the shop to being as good as an annexe of the New York’s Museum of Contemporary Art!Head from here to Raika Bagh and the Palace Road for Jodhpur’s superbly carpentered furniture, first-rate antique reproductions and handcrafted artefacts. There are some fun places to eat in this area–On-the-Rocks, as the name suggests, is a bar and restaurant in a rock garden along the imposing Ajit Bhawan Palace while Khaas Bagh has an arts and crafts gallery, a resort garden and a Bollywood themed dining area.A hidden gem in the city is MV Spice Shop in the Vegetable Market. The daughters of spice merchant, Mohanlal Verhomal, who was quite a legend among tourists, have come up with an extraordinarily innovative range of spice blends that they make at home from hand-ground spices. It is the place to buy anything from chai masala to a mutton curry mix.Jaipur goes contemporaryPolo tourism is catching up in the StateWhile Udaipur and Jodhpur remain old-worldly in their charm, Jaipur has burst out of its ‘Pink City’ shell with gleaming glass-and-steel shopping complexes, malls, supermarkets and multiplexes along its thoroughfare, Delhi-style plush new residential areas, and the ubiquitous CCDs, Baristas, fast food outlets and bars. But for visitors Jaipur is still about serious shopping. What is really exciting about shopping in Jaipur these days is the initiatives of the NGOs, cooperatives, self-help groups and artisanal families. A classic is Anokhi’s museum at the restored Chanwar Palkiwalon Ki haveli at Amber which won the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award in 2000. Here you can watch craftsmen at work on block printing and woodcarving, learn about the history of block-printing besides experiencing the architecture of a haveli. It is just a few minutes away from Amber Fort, which now offers an audio-tour as well as a Sound and Light Show, with Gulzar’s words, Amitabh’s voice and music to match. Amber is also being given a makeover ahead of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.The stylish showrooms of Anokhi and Fabindia in the city, the Soma on Jacob Road, the UN-supported Mojari which, as the name suggests, sells footwear from rural Rajasthan, and the blue pottery showroom called Kripal Kumbh, run by the daughters of the master ceramist Kripal Singh, are happening places to shop.Jaipur is also teeming with places to eat–from well-known names like Dasaprakash and Sankalp for South Indian food, Copper Chimney for North Indian, Little Italy, and so forth, to novel places like the Peacock Rooftop Restaurant or Om Tower Revolving Restaurant. Favourite evenings-out from Jaipur are village-theme restaurants like Chokhi Dhani, which also offers a range of folksy entertainments, an artisanal bazaar and camel and elephant rides.A couple of new options are also available for those who want to escape the city and yet not be too far from it. A good example of this is the Ramgarh Lodge, the former hunting lodge of the Maharajas of Jaipur, which is now a Gateway Hotel. And for a taste of something more energetic, get whisked away to Anokhi Farm outside Jaipur where you can learn the royal sport of polo. The training includes riding under supervision, stick-and-ball practice on wooden horses and practice chukkers.They say it’s just the beginning of modernisation. Let’s see what this year–the year of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi–spells for Rajasthan, its neighbour. advertisementadvertisement Fact fileFatehgarh–A Heritage Renaissance Resort Sisarma, Udaipur; tel: (0294) 241 3845Whistling Teal 103-Bhatiayani Chhohata, Udaipur; tel: 242 2067Ambrai Amet Haveli, Chandpole, Udaipur; tel: 243 1085Sunset View Terrace, City Palace Complex, UdaipurRaaj Bagh Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur; tel: 329 0228Bougainvillea Art Gallery Fatehsagar Lake, UdaipurAndraab New Fatehpura, Udaipur; tel: 242 3285Ganesh Art Emporium Jagdish Chowk, Udaipur; tel: 242 2864Pristine Gallery Bhattiyani Cohtta, Udaipur; tel: (0) 98291 84223Deogarh Mahal tel: (02904) 252 777; 253 333Fort Seengh Sagar Reservations through Deogarh MahalMehrangarh Fort Audio Tour Tel: (0291) 254 8790, 254 8992On-the-Rocks Circuit House Road, Jodhpur; tel: 251 0410Khaas Bagh Opp. Police Lines, Ratanada, Jodhpur; tel: 251 4513MV Spice Shop Clock Tower, Jodhpur; tel (0) 92520 00435;Anokhi Museum Amber Fort, Jaipur; tel: (0141) 253 0226Sound and Light Show at Amber Fort; 6.30 and 7.30p.m.Anokhi Jaipur; tel: 400 7244/45Fabindia MGF Mall, Jaipur; tel: 511 5997; Prithviraj Road; tel: 511 5992advertisementSoma 5 Jacob Road, Civil Lines, Jaipur; tel: 222 2778Mojari Vishwakarma Industrial Area, Jaipur; tel: 309 4260Kripal Kumbh Bani Park, Jaipur; tel: 220 1127Peacock Rooftop Restaurant Ajmer Road, Jaipur; tel: 237 3700Om Tower Revolving Restaurant MI Road, Jaipur; tel: 404 6666Chokhi Dhani Tonk Road, JaipurGateway Hotel Ramgarh Lodge One-hour drive from JaipurAnokhi Farm Tel: (01532) 275 0868last_img read more

Zamboanga, Imus force sudden-death showdowns with crucial victories

first_imgSEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Pushed to the brink after a 78-89 loss in Game 1, the sixth seeded Rapidos came out sharp and aggressive, frustrating the Cagers with their suffocating defense, while turning to Juntilla and Robin Rono for clutch baskets down the stretch.The highly physical match saw two Muntinlupa players, Ernesto Bondoc and Andretti Stevens, also get thrown out. Bondoc walked to the showers on two unsportsmanlike fouls while Andretti was charged with a disqualifying foul.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsThe crowd grew uneasy with security stepping in, after plastic bottles were thrown to the floor in the final minutes with Muntinlupa down by a double-digit margin.“We knew we had to match their physicality to tie the series, but we also have to keep our composure,” said Zamboanga coach Raymond Valenzona, whose father, Turo, serves as consultant of the Muntinlupa squad. Kids take spotlight before 70.3 Davao contest LATEST STORIES Undaunted by the hostile crowd, Zamboanga kept its poise and lived to fight another day in the MPBL Datu Cup.Ex-pro Reed Juntilla poured 26 points, while Harold Arboleda came up with 17 rebounds and 13 assists as the Rapidos turned back the Muntinlupa Cagers, 84-73, on Thursday night to force a do-or-die Game 3 in their South division quarterfinal series at a jam-packed Muntinlupa Sports Complex.ADVERTISEMENT Miguel Romero Polo: Bamboo technology like no other Bloomberg: US would benefit from more, not fewer, immigrants Seventh seed Imus also forged a sudden death match with No. 2 seed Batangas after a stunning 75-69 victory earlier.Imus guard James Castro fired 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists, but it was the Banderas’ stifling defense that helped propel them tie the series.The Bandera held the talent-laden Batangas squad led by Jeff Viernes to just 22 points in the middle quarters to seize control. Castro hit five of six free throws in the final minute to help preserve the win for Imus.“Even with the loss in Game 1, we were not discouraged because we always felt we had a chance if we play the right way against Batangas,” said Imus coach Noy Falcasantos in Filipino.ADVERTISEMENT Google Philippines names new country director MOST READcenter_img Colombia protesters vow new strike after talks hit snag PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Trump tells impeachment jokes at annual turkey pardon event View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Wintry storm delivers US travel woes before Thanksgivinglast_img read more