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Mon, 26 Aug 2019
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Genes can spring into action hours or even days after an organism dies, says new study

© Immersion Images/Shutterstock
From the time we see Bambi's mom bite the dust, we all know what death is. At least, we think we do. But the simple definition of death — that the body stops working — doesn't take into account how weird our bodies actually are.

"We really know nothing about what happens when you die," says Peter Noble, a former professor at the University of Alabama. Noble knows firsthand that surprises await scientists studying the end of life: he helped discover that long-dormant genes can spring into action hours or even days after an organism dies.

Gold Seal

Famed Yale computer science professor quits believing Darwin's theories


'The origin of species is exactly what Darwin cannot explain'
David Gelernter, a famed Yale University professor, has publicly renounced his belief in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, calling it a "beautiful idea" that has been effectively disproven.

Gelernter, who is known for predicting the World Wide Web and has developed many complex computing tools over the years, is today a professor of computer science at Yale, chief scientist at Mirror Worlds Technologies, member of the National Council of the Arts, and a prolific author.

In May, the Claremont Review of Books published a column by Gelernter headlined "Giving Up Darwin." In it, he explained how his readings and discussions of Darwinian evolution and its competing theories, namely intelligent design, have convinced him Darwin had it wrong.

In particular, he cited Stephen Meyer's 2013 book Darwin's Doubt as well as The Deniable Darwin by David Berlinski. The professor expanded on his views in an interview with Stanford University's Hoover Institution that was published last week.

Gelernter stops short of fully embracing intelligent design, both in his essay and during his interview. He said in his interview he sees intelligence in Earth's design, and has no quarrel with ID proponents, but notes the world is a mess, its suffering far outweighs its goodness.

Comment: Gelernter's column can be read here:

Alarm Clock

What can go wrong? Scientists create first hybrid human-monkey embryo in China

DNA human embryo
© Getty images
Scientists have successfully formed a hybrid human-monkey embryo - with the experiment taking place in China to avoid "legal issues".

Researchers led by scientist Juan Carlos Izpisúa spliced together the genes to grow a monkey with human cells.

It is said the creature could have grown and been born, but scientists aborted the process.

The team, made up of members of the Salk Institute in the United States and the Murcia Catholic University, genetically modified the monkey embryos.

Researchers deactivates the genes which form organs, and replaced them with human stem cells.

And it is hoped that one day these hybrid-grown organs will be able to be translated into humans.

Meanwhile, scientists in Japan are developing human-rat chimeras for the same purpose in a new biotech arms race.

Project collaborator Estrella Núñez hailed the experiment as "very promising".


Microscope 1

Major class of viruses reveals complex origins that don't fit evolutionary theory

dna in cell
© Juan Gärtner / Adobe Stock
Comparing a living cell to a virus is a bit like comparing the Sistine Chapel to a backyard dog house. Lacking the intricate machinery of living cells, viruses represent biology stripped down to an extreme level. They are the true minimalists of the biological world.

Nevertheless, the field of virology is brimming with unanswered questions about these architecturally simple, yet mysterious entities. In new research, Arvind Varsani, a molecular virologist at Arizona State University, joins a prestigious international team to explore a particular class of viruses, ferreting out genetic fragments revealing the complexities of viral evolution.


George Knapp releases Pentagon UFO program paper on detection of hypersonic vehicles

A story that many people have been interested in, including John McCain and the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been the DIA/DWO's Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Applications Program (AAWSA or AAWSAP) and the thirty-eight Defense Intelligence Reference Documents (DIRDs) they produced. For those not familiar with this subject, and even those who are, I recommend reading these blogs for a history of the DIRDs:
  1. 38th DIRD Title Surfaces With Letter Addressed To McCain & Armed Services Committee
  2. Knapp Releases 4th DIRD By Ulf Leonhardt, Interviews Harry Reid
  3. Those Defense Intelligence Reference Documents
Keep in mind that while John McCain and the Senate Armed Services Committee supposedly had received "all products produced" under the AATIP/AAWSAP contract when they were sent the DIRDs, this is arguably not the case. The DIRDs were the tip of the iceberg. We know this because of comments from Harry Reid, Lue Elizondo, George Knapp and others when they speak of reports and databases:
Harry Reid: "Read the reports. Read the reports. We have hundreds. Eric; two, three weeks ago, maybe a month now, up in Montana, they had another strange deal at a missile base up there. It goes on all the time."
Lue Elizondo's presentation slide stated:
"AATIP commissioned large volumes of related research data, academic studies, and collected data from the field."
During an interview with Dr. Eric Davis, George Knapp said this about the Pentagon UFO study:
George Knapp: "...The database that was put together for this study is... from what's described to me, gigantic and includes databases collected by other governments and other militaries."
(For more, read the blog UFO Databases.)


Seven asteroids are headed for Earth this August

Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA
Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA.
NASA has detected a total of seven asteroids headed for Earth in August. According to the agency's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the biggest asteroid from the group is five times taller than the Statue of Liberty.

The first asteroid that will approach Earth is called 2019 ON. CNEOS noted that the space rock is about 180 feet long and is traveling at a speed of 10,400 miles per hour. It is expected to approach Earth on Aug. 1 at 11:23 am ST. During its approach, it will zip past Earth from a distance of 0.01729 astronomical units or roughly 1.6 million miles away.

Trailing behind 2019 ON is asteroid 2006 QQ23. According to CNEOS' data, this is the biggest asteroid that will approach Earth next month. It has an estimated diameter of 1,870 feet and has a velocity of 10,400 miles per hour.

CNEOS estimated that 2006 QQ23 will fly past Earth on Aug. 10 at 7:23 am ST. It is expected to be about 0.04977 astronomical units or around 4.6 million miles away from the planet during its flyby.

The third asteroid that will visit Earth in August is 454094 2013 BZ45. This asteroid is about 820 feet long and is traveling at 18,250 miles per hour. It will enter Earth's neighborhood on Aug. 12 at 12:14 am ST. Its closest distance to Earth during its visit is expected to be at 0.04352 astronomical units or around 4 million miles away.

Comment: A few years ago NASA created a 'Planetary Defense Coordination Office' with a view to track meteors headed toward Earth, and "redirect" potentially dangerous asteroids as part of a long-term planetary defense goal.

However, asteroid 'redirection' or 'deflection' remains just theoretical. A more accurate way of looking at it is that NASA is funding deflection and redirection of the topic of space threats by 'getting the message out' that 'everything is just fine'.

See also: Expecting an asteroid? Proposed budget for NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office suddenly increased three-fold

As Fireball Numbers Increase it is well worth remembering what can come out of the sky, without any warning at all:


Crab Nebula blasts Earth with highest-energy photons ever recorded

Crab Nebula
© NASA/CXC/ASU/J. Hester et al.
This image of the Crab Nebula in x-rays shows the pulsar clearly spinning at the nebula's center.
Astronomers using the Tibet AS-gamma Experiment have discovered the highest-energy light ever measured from an astrophysical source. Photons streaming from the Crab Nebula were recently measured at energies well over 100 tera-electronvolts (TeV). That's a trillion electron volts, or some 10 times the maximum energy that the Large Hadron Collider sees when it slams particles together.

Scientists think the key is a pulsar lurking deep inside the heart of the Crab Nebula, the dense, rapidly spinning core left when a star exploded in a supernova almost a thousand years ago. Actually, since the nebula is located over 6,500 light-years away, the explosion occurred about 7,500 years ago, but the light from that explosion didn't reach Earth until 1054 CE, when it exploded in our night skies as a bright new star, spotted by astronomers around the globe.

The supernova's light faded after just weeks, but since then, the detritus has grown and spread, and it now glows wonderfully in the night sky at nearly every wavelength. It crackles in low-energy radio waves, blasts out high-energy gamma and x-rays, and shines at visible wavelengths in between.

Comment: See also:


Infants learn early about social hierarchies and power dynamics, study suggests

Red and Blue Bears
Infants watched as the red bear either intervened to redress a wrong perpetrated by the blue against the yellow bear or ignored it.
It's well-known that humans have evolved to rely on leaders to settle grievances in their social group. A new study shows this expectation appears in children as young as 17 months.

The discovery builds on evidence that young children understand social hierarchies and power dynamics, says lead researcher Renee Baillargeon, from the University of Illinois, US.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved showing 120 infants a series of interactions between puppets.

The performers were three bears with female voices who played a protagonist, wrongdoer and victim.

First, leadership status was determined. In one condition, the protagonist issued commands that the other bears obeyed, establishing the bear as a leader. In the other, the bears ignored the commands, signalling non-leadership.

Then the infants were shown the main event. In each play, the protagonist produced two toys for the others to share, but one bear grabbed both toys.

In both conditions - with a leader or non-leader - the protagonist either intervened by taking one of the toys from the wrongdoer and giving it to the victim or did nothing.


Millions of butterflies flying to Scotland in 'once-in-a-decade' phenomenon

Painted Lady Butterfly Migration

Painted Lady butterfly migration
The UK could be experiencing a once-in-a-decade wildlife phenomenon this year with a mass influx of painted lady butterflies, experts have said.

TV naturalist Chris Packham is urging people to take part in the world's largest insect citizen science survey, the annual Big Butterfly Count, to see if the painted ladies are arriving in their millions to the UK's shores this year.

The painted lady butterfly is a common immigrant from the continent to the UK each summer where its caterpillars feed on thistles (you can see why they're heading to Scotland) but around once every 10 years there is a painted lady "summer" when millions arrive en masse.

This summer is set to be just that rare summer as the wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation, which runs the Big Butterfly Count, said unusually high numbers have been reported across Europe over the spring and early summer with large numbers now spotted crossing to the UK.

Comment: The Guardian provides some more detail of how some butterflies are able to complete those kinds of arduous journey's:
Every September an incredible migration phenomenon begins. Clouds of stripy orange monarch butterflies set off on a 2,500km journey, travelling from southern Canada to warmer climes in southern California and Mexico. Come spring they follow the milkweed blossom and travel back up north. No butterfly completes the entire trip: after flying many hundreds of kilometres the female butterflies lay eggs and pass the baton to the next generation. Now a new study, published in Biology Letters, reveals how these amazing insects make use of the weather to aid their journey.

Miniaturised radio transmitters were attached to the butterflies and their journey tracked using a series of automated telemetry towers. The results show how monarchs soar high to take advantage of strong tailwinds, powering along at up to 31kph. Those that have to travel furthest seem to travel fastest, but all butterflies took rest days every now and then. Warmer temperatures also help (though only up to a certain point) and on a good day they managed to travel over 100km. Light rain didn't seem to have any adverse effect, but the researchers note they didn't track any individuals during heavy rain events. Perhaps they shelter and make up lost time later?
See also: And check out SOTT radio's:

Eye 1

Constant surveillance: How big tech's household devices are SPYING on you

spying tech
© Pixabay / Gerd Altmann
The expansion of home tech products to make life increasingly convenient requires consumer privacy sacrifices, the full extent of which won't be revealed for years to come, but have been hinted at through a slew of missteps.

This past week Amazon hit headlines after its virtual assistant Alexa was caught passively recording couples arguing, having intimate family discussions and even having sex (apparently sex noises can trigger Alexa-activated Echo speakers).

Data is the new dominant commodity of the 21st century and the trade-off of convenience for privacy and security has been highlighted in a plethora of cases involving consumer 'smart products' in recent years.

Comment: Embrace the current technological revolution at your own peril. It's entirely likely that Big Tech works hand in hand with the US intelligence network to create these devices specifically so that they can be used to invade our privacy and send data back to those who want to use it against us.