12 comments on “This Week in Science (Feb. 14 – 21)

  • “Five-dimensional’ glass discs can store data for up to 13.8 billion years”

    In order to demonstrate the format’s virtues, the team from the University of Southampton have created copies of the King James Bible

    Why? Why? Why did these scientists use a stupid book like the king james bible as a demonstration??? That is wrong on so many levels. Please melt that glass. What an embarrassment to science.



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  • What an embarrassment to science.

    The English is superb and the basis of much (most) of western literature, art, music and poetry. Shakespeare himself had a hand in the creation of the King James (vide Psalm 46, produced in the 46th year of his life, 46 words from beginning Verse 3, and 46 from the end, verse 9). It is both an artictic creation and a historical document, which has a profound effect on all of our thinking. per omnia secula seculorum



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  • @OP – link – The results, he said, were unambiguous: “There were no characteristics from our species”—that is, Homo sapiens.

    This seems to clear ups some of the questions.

    And while they found evidence of minor maladies, there was nothing corresponding to the major genetic diseases other researchers had pointed to.

    But if one part of the mystery may be solved, another remains intact.

    For while the scientists could not exclude the possibility that the “hobbit” was a scaled-down version of Homo erectus, which arrived on the neighbouring island of Java some million years ago, nor could they be sure that H. floresiensis was not a species it its own right.

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-02-mystery-hobbits-humans.html#jCp

    Whether an evolutionary branch is a species or sub-species, is not that big an issue.



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  • after one generation of hatchery culture, the offspring of wild fish and first-generation hatchery fish differed in the activity of more than 700 genes.

    How could such a large number of genetic mutations happen in so short a space of time? Isn’t it pushing good fortune to the limit, in that all these random mutations seem useful in improving survival in an artificially pressured environment, and from the tone of the report seem to be spread over large populations of fish? And then they’re all inherited by the next generation? It’s beginning to sound non-Darwinian. I await enlightenment from the scientific cognoscenti.



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  • eejit #5
    Feb 21, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    after one generation of hatchery culture, the offspring of wild fish and first-generation hatchery fish differed in the activity of more than 700 genes.

    How could such a large number of genetic mutations happen in so short a space of time?

    Its probably that the absence of high levels of mortality constraining diversity in the wild, allowed a wider expression (activity) of existing genes, in the hatchery stocks.



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  • Its probably that the absence of high levels of mortality constraining diversity in the wild, allowed a wider expression (activity) of existing genes, in the hatchery stocks.

    Surely that would militate for the opposite? Selection of the fittest depends on a high rate of mortality, in an enormous pool of bio entities, existing in an enormous pool of diseases, predators and possible environments and survival strategies. In fish tanks or sea cages, more so in a laboratory, the opposite is the case. There is a very small range of survival requirements, due to the limited threat from starvation, diseases and predators, optimum diet availability, and, compared to the wild environment, a relatively small population of parents and future partners (for the second generation). So how, according to Darwinian principles, can the changes which occurred in one generation, be so useful, and according to the report, so widespread?



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  • eejit #9
    Feb 21, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Its probably that the absence of high levels of mortality constraining diversity in the wild, allowed a wider expression (activity) of existing genes, in the hatchery stocks.

    Surely that would militate for the opposite?

    Perhaps my phrasing was unclear.

    Its probably that the absence of high levels of mortality {which are} constraining diversity in the wild, {which} allowed a wider expression (activity) of existing genes, in the hatchery stocks {as the protected hatchery stocks, do not have the less competitive variations removed by the selective pressures of the wild environment}.

    These variations (which would be eliminated in the wild), then go on to breed an even more diverse next generation.

    Selection of the fittest depends on a high rate of mortality, in an enormous pool of bio entities, existing in an enormous pool of diseases, predators and possible environments and survival strategies.

    That is indeed so, hence maintaining a narrow range which is best adapted to the prevailing wild conditions.

    In fish tanks or sea cages, more so in a laboratory, the opposite is the case.

    The selection pressure is reduced or eliminated in the protected captive situation.



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  • observable changes at the DNA level that were passed on to offspring

    Thanks Alan. It seems that my confusion was at least in part due to the use of language in the original article, which frequently used terms like genetic change, when it might have been more accurate to speak of something like the enhanced survival of existing genetic diversity. Still, I’m learning!



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  • Thank you, eejit, Alan and Olgun; you’ve all provided some thought provoking questions.

    Back we go, as the saying has it, to basics; speaking for yours truly, some revision is called for I think.

    How refreshing it is to get away from mumbo jumbo and engage in an exchange about something real and observable.



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