Category Archives: Science

Chicken embryo grows face of dinosaur

Scientists have figured out the genes responsible for creating a beak rather than a snout in birds and have had success in creating a chicken with a dinosaur’s snout. However, they didn’t hatch the eggs. I’m puzzled by that.

For now Bhullar has no plans, or ethical approval, to hatch the snouted chickens. But he believes they would have been able to survive “just fine”.

Source: BBC – Earth – Chicken grows face of dinosaur

Seriously, if they have created the embryo just to destroy before it hatches then what’s the ethical difference in allowing them to hatch and then destroying them an hour or so later?

Humans genetically evolved to consume and metabolize alcohol.

Alcohol has caused a lot of damage to society but only when it is being abused. I have always firmly believed that moderate consumption of alcohol is not only beneficial but as nature would have it. There is now evidence to support my belief.

Scientists found a genetic mutation, 10 million years old, which would allow primates to digest alcohol. This could be the first record of such ability in primates. They also suggest that primates eating fruits fallen from the trees might have consumed alcohol incidentally.

via Primates were the first ones to consume alcohol | Diabetes Insider.

Personally, I believe that without this mutation humanity never would have become civilized and may have never evolved.

Did Neanderthals intentionally bury their dead?

It’s an interesting question that this article in Mother Nature Network asks. Did Neanderthals intentionally bury their dead. It seems that most anthropologists view Neanderthals as incapable of symbolic thought. If Neanderthals intentionally buried their dead it shows some ability of symbolic thought much like modern humans.

Personally I think Neanderthals have never been given the respect or credit they deserve. DNA testing shows that modern humans have as much as 5% Neanderthal DNA. I don’t think you would have that much mixing unless Neanderthals were much closer to being able to socialize with Homo Sapiens to some fairly high degree.

Cannabis Relieves Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

Dan pointed out this small, placebo controlled trial gives hope for sufferers of Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory disease of the intestines. From what I understand this disease is a real cramp on one’s lifestyle.

….. a short course 8 week of THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 11 patients with active CD, compared to placebo, without side effects.

via Cannabis Induces a Clinical Respo… [Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI.

If for no other reasons being able to conduct clinical trials like this without fear of arrest warrants delisting cannabis from the controlled substances list.

What Happened When Humans Met An ‘Alien’ Intelligence?

What happened? Sex happened. I love this story.

Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals inhabited the earth at the same time and the question has been asked over and over, “What happened to them.” We have assumed in the past that we either committed xenocide against them or just out competed them and they died off.

We know now that there is a third option that seems most likely. We accepted them and made them a part of us. How do I know this? Well, I read this article and a few others on it. Here’s how we know this is a  plausible and probable explanation.

But the clincher is in your cells. I’m talking about you, you reading this, unless you are 100 percent Yoruba or San (groups that never emigrated from Africa). In 2010, scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, discovered that most humans on Earth, especially if they descend from Europe and most of Asia, carry about 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA in their cells. Proportions will vary. British comedian Eddie Izzard, discovered he’s 2.8 percent Neanderthal. You don’t carry Neanderthal DNA unless someone up your family tree coupled with one.

via What Happened When Humans Met An ‘Alien’ Intelligence? Sex Happened : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR.

So if someone ever refers to you as a Neanderthal there is no reason to take this as an insult. It’s likely they are Neanderthal also.

Meteorites slam into Russia

Y’all heard about the meteorite slamming into Russia yesterday. Didn’t you? This one was large enough to create a bit of a ruckus and send some people to the hospital but it wasn’t anything like a dinosaur killer.

The video was pretty impressive. I think I would have panicked a bit had I witnessed it.

Later today an asteroid the size of a football field is suppose to pass closer than any other recorded asteroid pass to this planet. It will pass between the Earth and some of our geosynchronous satellites. It’s easy to make a connection between this meteorite in Russia and the passing of this asteroid but supposedly there is no connection.

The meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid — about 17,150 miles. European Space Agency spokesman Bernhard Von Weyhein said, however, that there was no connection with the meteor over Russia, it was just a cosmic coincidence.

via Meteorites slam into Russia as meteor seen streaking through morning sky – CBS News.

I have a problem with coincidences.

Rethinking the Source of Earth’s Water

Earth did not form containing water. Earth was much too hot for water to hang around in its formative years so where did the water come from? Scientists use to think it was brought here by icy comets from outside our solar system. Evidence, however, is pointing elsewhere.

It seems that the deuterium to hydrogen ratio in comets is too high. Had our water come from comets our deuterium to hydrogen ratio would match that of the comets but it doesn’t so that isn’t where our water came from.


After studying 85 carbonaceous chondrites, supplied by Johnson Space Center and the Meteorite Working Group, they show in a paper released today by Science Express that they likely did not form in the same regions of the solar system as comets because they have much lower deuterium content. They formed closer to the Sun, perhaps in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. And its that material that rained on early Earth to create the wet planet we know today.

via Rethinking the Source of Earth’s Water.

Which I find to be just absolutely cool when you consider that the chondrites with the highest proportion of water are the CI chondrites that can contain up to 22% water and organic matter in the form of amino acids. That’s primordial soup contents right there, the origin of life stuff.

Most likely these meteors were spun off by the solar nebulae before it condensed into our sun. Somehow the Earth wound up being bombarded by so many of these carbonaceous chondrites that our seas formed from the water they contained.

So my question is how many other stars out there formed from a stellar nebulae as ours did and threw off carbonaceous chondrites like I’m supposing ours did and bombard planets in their solar system much like happened to our Earth?

Crows don’t plan intelligence

I actually had never thought of the difference but part of problem solving is planning how to attack the problem and understanding what will be faced at each step. It takes another type of problem solving ability to be able to adapt to unexpected reactions to our actions. It’s called improvisation. I think most of human problem solving is improvisation.

“Crows and parrots have long been known to solve the string pulling problem immediately. What our new research shows is that these performances are due to the birds being able to react in the moment to the effects of their actions, rather than being able to mentally plan out their actions,” says Dr Alex Taylor, lead author on the study.

via Crows don’t plan intelligence (Science Alert).

So at this point I’ve got to wonder, “Are these birds capable of mixing planning and improvisation?” I certainly don’t doubt it but I don’t want to assume anything.