A Challenge to the Genetic Interpretation of Biology

DNA 2014

A proposal for reformulating the foundations of biology, based on the 2nd law of thermodynamics and which is in sharp contrast to the prevailing genetic view, is published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface under the title “Genes without prominence: a reappraisal of the foundations of biology” [citation below]. The authors, Arto Annila, Professor of physics at Helsinki University and Keith Baverstock, Docent and former professor at the University of Eastern Finland, assert that the prominent emphasis currently given to the gene in biology is based on a flawed interpretation of experimental genetics and should be replaced by more fundamental considerations of how the cell utilizes energy. There are far-reaching implications, both in research and for the current strategy in many countries to develop personalized medicine based on genome-wide sequencing. Read More →

Researchers Discover Four New Galaxy Clusters

Caption: Perseus galaxy cluster. [D. W. Hogg/M. Blanton/SDSS Collaboration].

Caption: Perseus galaxy cluster. [D. W. Hogg/M. Blanton/SDSS Collaboration].

Four unknown galaxy clusters each potentially containing thousands of individual galaxies have been discovered some 10 billion light years from Earth.

An international team of astronomers, led by Imperial College London, used a new way of combining data from the two European Space Agency satellites, Planck and Herschel, to identify more distant galaxy clusters than has previously been possible. The researchers believe up to 2000 further clusters could be identified using this technique, helping to build a more detailed timeline of how clusters are formed. Read More →

Ancient Egypt: Evolution of the Great Pyramids

Six Pyramids of the Giza Necropolis

Six Pyramids of the Giza Necropolis

They started out as mastabas, bench-like burial mounds or tombs for the pharaohs, and ended up as massive structures that inspired our fascination with the ancient Egyptians. Indeed, the Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops), built more than 4,500 years ago, is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing. Today’s post looks at how pyramids evolved, primarily during the Fourth Dynasty (circa 2575 BCE and 2450 BCE), from simple mounds into the audacious monuments we see today. Read More →

Solving a 30-Year-Old Problem in High Mass Star Formation

This false-color Very Large Array image of the ionized gas in the star forming region Sgr B2 Main was used to detect small but significant changes in brightness of several of the sources. The blobs and filaments in this image are regions of ionized gas around massive stars. The changes in brightness detected support a model that could solve a 30-year-old question in high mass star formation. (Credit: NRAO/Agnes Scott College)

This false-color Very Large Array image of the ionized gas in the star forming region Sgr B2 Main was used to detect small but significant changes in brightness of several of the sources. The blobs and filaments in this image are regions of ionized gas around massive stars. The changes in brightness detected support a model that could solve a 30-year-old question in high mass star formation. (Credit: NRAO/Agnes Scott College)

Some 30 years ago, astronomers found that regions of ionized gas around young high mass stars remain small (under a third of a light-year) for ten times longer than they should if they were to expand as expected in simple models. Recent supercomputer simulations predicted that these regions actually flicker in brightness over this period rather than grow continuously. Observations from a team of researchers using the Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) over a 23-year period have confirmed that such flickering actually occurs. Read More →

Science App to Explore Human Consciousness

CCA

I was recently introduced to a new science-based initiative on Indiegogo that looks pretty exciting. Years of scientific laboratory work have gone into the project that the new app is based upon, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned thus far. The idea of collective consciousness states that there is a real measurable relationship between human consciousness and the tangible world that we live in. This relationship is generally referred to as mind-matter interaction. This new Collective Consciousness app is designed to help us further understand these ideas. Read More →

Let’s Explore ‘Cold Fusion’

CF

Cold Fusion, or LENR (low-energy nuclear reactions) reactors have purportedly been built in recent years that offer new possibilities in terms of energy production.  These reactors use very small amounts of nickel and hydrogen, combining them with trace amounts of other ingredients.  Once these reactors are brought online, there is hypothetically an anomalous amount of heat generated internally, an amount which cannot be explained by chemical or nuclear reactions alone. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the idea is not without its skeptics. Even the name itself has come under fire. Nonetheless, scientists working on the technology remain adamant about its future potential. Read More →

Using Ultrasound to Boost Brain Performance

Jamie Tyler, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, VTCRI, lab, research

Jamie Tyler, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, VTCRI, lab, research

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have demonstrated that ultrasound directed to a specific region of the brain can boost performance in sensory discrimination.

Whales, bats, and even praying mantises use ultrasound as a sensory guidance system — and now a new study has found that ultrasound can modulate brain activity to heighten sensory perception in humans. Read More →

Examining the Aftermath of the Singularity

Future Brain

A trailer (see below) was recently released for an upcoming movie about the technological singularity – a hypothetical point when AI begins to vastly exceed human intelligence. Premiering in theaters in April, ‘Transcendence’ will portray what might occur during the early stages of the singularity. While technological advancements still have a way to go before this becomes reality, this movie will likely give us at least one example of what life might be like for our planet once the singularity occurs. Read More →

Rome: Gladiators of the Colosseum

Pollice Verso ("With a Turned Thumb"), an 1872 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Pollice Verso (“With a Turned Thumb”), an 1872 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

They came, they saw… but not all of them conquered. The gladiator battles at the Colosseum were the main attraction when the massive Flavian amphitheater opened for business in 80 C.E. under Emperor Titus; the gladiators’ bloody, often desperate clashes captured the imagination of the people of Ancient Rome, and ensured the Colosseum became the staging ground for some famous – and notorious – incidents in the history of the Roman Empire. Today’s post examines how the spectacle of gladiators fighting each other to death has ensured the Colosseum remains, even today, a potent symbol of Rome’s past. Read More →

Finding Extraterrestrial Life on Europa

Jupiter Europa

Earlier this week, we learned during a NASA press conference that scientists have discovered huge active plumes containing water vapor being released from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This sensational find was made using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Joachim Saur, professor at the Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology of the University of Cologne was principal investigator of the Hubble observing campaign. Read More →