A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

'Bad luck' ensured that asteroid impact wiped out dinosaurs
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Dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid impact when they were at their most vulnerable, according to a new study. Dr Steve Brusatte, of Edinburgh University, said sea level rises and volcanic activity had made many species more susceptible to extinction. They might have survived if the asteroid had hit the Earth a few million years later or earlier, he said, calling it “colossal bad luck”. The assessment has been published in the journal, Biological Reviews. “It was a perfect storm of events that occurred when dinosaurs were at their most vulnerable,” Dr Brusatte told BBC News. The study brought together 11 leading dinosaur experts from the UK, US and Canada to assess the latest research on the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago. There is evidence that some species of dinosaur were dying off shortly before an asteroid hit the Earth. One of the key questions was whether this gradual decline would have led to the extinction of these animals even if the asteroid had not hit. The experts concluded that although some species of plant eaters in North America were dying out in the period leading up to the asteroid impact there was no evidence of a long-term decline. However, the experts believe that rises in sea level and increased volcanic activity made many species more susceptible to extinction just at the point that the asteroid struck. (via BBC News - ‘Bad luck’ ensured that asteroid impact wiped out dinosaurs)

Less than 10% of human DNA has functional role, claim scientists - Large stretches may be no more than biological baggage, say researchers after comparing genome with that of other mammals - More than 90% of human DNA is doing nothing very useful, and large stretches may be no more than biological baggage that has built up over years of evolution, Oxford researchers claim. The scientists arrived at the figure after comparing the human genome with the genetic makeup of other mammals, ranging from dogs and mice to rhinos and horses. The researchers looked for sections of DNA that humans shared with the other animals, which split from our lineage at different points in history. When DNA is shared and conserved across species, it suggests that it does something valuable. Gerton Lunter, a senior scientist on the team, said that based on the comparisons, 8.2% of human DNA was “functional”, meaning that it played an important enough role to be conserved by evolution. “Scientifically speaking, we have no evidence that 92% of our genome is contributing to our biology at all,” Lunter told the Guardian. Researchers have known for some time that only 1% of human DNA is held in genes that are used to make crucial proteins to keep cells – and bodies – alive and healthy. The latest study, reported in the journal Plos Genetics, suggests that a further 7% of human DNA is equally vital, regulating where, when, and how genes are expressed. But if much of our DNA is so worthless, why do we still carry it around? “It’s not true that nature is parsimonious in terms of needing a small genome. Wheat has a much larger genome than we do,” Lunter said. “We haven’t been designed. We’ve evolved and that’s a messy process. This other DNA really is just filler. It’s not garbage. It might come in useful one day. But it’s not a burden.” (via Less than 10% of human DNA has functional role, claim scientists | Science | The Guardian)

Less than 10% of human DNA has functional role, claim scientists
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Large stretches may be no more than biological baggage, say researchers after comparing genome with that of other mammals
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More than 90% of human DNA is doing nothing very useful, and large stretches may be no more than biological baggage that has built up over years of evolution, Oxford researchers claim. The scientists arrived at the figure after comparing the human genome with the genetic makeup of other mammals, ranging from dogs and mice to rhinos and horses. The researchers looked for sections of DNA that humans shared with the other animals, which split from our lineage at different points in history. When DNA is shared and conserved across species, it suggests that it does something valuable. Gerton Lunter, a senior scientist on the team, said that based on the comparisons, 8.2% of human DNA was “functional”, meaning that it played an important enough role to be conserved by evolution. “Scientifically speaking, we have no evidence that 92% of our genome is contributing to our biology at all,” Lunter told the Guardian. Researchers have known for some time that only 1% of human DNA is held in genes that are used to make crucial proteins to keep cells – and bodies – alive and healthy. The latest study, reported in the journal Plos Genetics, suggests that a further 7% of human DNA is equally vital, regulating where, when, and how genes are expressed. But if much of our DNA is so worthless, why do we still carry it around? “It’s not true that nature is parsimonious in terms of needing a small genome. Wheat has a much larger genome than we do,” Lunter said. “We haven’t been designed. We’ve evolved and that’s a messy process. This other DNA really is just filler. It’s not garbage. It might come in useful one day. But it’s not a burden.” (via Less than 10% of human DNA has functional role, claim scientists | Science | The Guardian)

Beauty Is Skin-deep—But That’s Where Genetic Engineering Is Going Next
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A Korean woman was on the verge of divorce because her husband no longer found her attractive and was having an affair. Nothing worked in her efforts to save the marriage and as a last resort she underwent cosmetic surgery. The result was so dramatic and her son didn’t recognize her when she returned home.
Even more dramatic was her husband’s attitude towards his new “goddess”: no more mention of divorce, and he was now willing staying at home all the time! This seems to be a true story as the woman appeared on a TV show. Unfortunately the show is in Korean, but you can see many amazing “before-and-after” faces on this short video. The Korean plastic surgery industry has been a huge success in tapping into this fundamental human desire. And who does not love beauty? But of course the “beauty cure” is transitory. A popular joke is: How can a Korean groom know the real face of his bride? Answer: wait till the baby is born. On the other hand, the joke won’t work anymore if such “beauty” modifications begin to occur at the genetic level. Then it will be truly a long-term investment, avoiding the cost and possible surgical pain if future generations get the same idea as the Korean woman, and then turn to fundamental genetic alteration that will effect their progeny too! People who object to this may argue that we should learn to love what we have, or what we are born with. Indeed we should. But the natural attraction to beauty is universal and undeniable. How we look not only matters for marriage, but also for one’s job and social life. Academic studies have found that we are more likely to earn more and make more friends with good looks, especially for females. 

So the market for good looks, or willingness to pay, has huge potential. As I argue in Chapter 9 of my book, the posthuman future should and will be driven, at least initially, by our most basic animal-like desires,simply because they are the strongest driver for most people. Since the divergence of skin color and facial features is a very recent phenomenon, we may look different but will be essentially the same person; thus, this step should be relatively easy and low risk, i.e., relatively free of unintended consequences.

But once we learn how to democratize movie-star looks through genetic engineering, will we be satisfied? Most likely not. As looks become less of a differentiator, we will appreciate other personal characteristics more, such as kindness and intelligence.
Now interventions to achieve those attributes is serious genetic engineering. And furthermore, at what I call the second stage of conscious evolution, we should even be able to modify our innate desires and preferences themselves, including aesthetic values. At that point, another concern about cosmetic genetic engineering will be addressed: we will no longer be satisfied with the same movie star looks. Humanity will diversify and flourish, sometimes beyond our recognition. 

(via Beauty Is Skin-deep—But That’s Where Genetic Engineering Is Going Next)

Beauty Is Skin-deep—But That’s Where Genetic Engineering Is Going Next
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A Korean woman was on the verge of divorce because her husband no longer found her attractive and was having an affair. Nothing worked in her efforts to save the marriage and as a last resort she underwent cosmetic surgery. The result was so dramatic and her son didn’t recognize her when she returned home.
Even more dramatic was her husband’s attitude towards his new “goddess”: no more mention of divorce, and he was now willing staying at home all the time! This seems to be a true story as the woman appeared on a TV show. Unfortunately the show is in Korean, but you can see many amazing “before-and-after” faces on this short video. The Korean plastic surgery industry has been a huge success in tapping into this fundamental human desire. And who does not love beauty? But of course the “beauty cure” is transitory. A popular joke is: How can a Korean groom know the real face of his bride? Answer: wait till the baby is born. On the other hand, the joke won’t work anymore if such “beauty” modifications begin to occur at the genetic level. Then it will be truly a long-term investment, avoiding the cost and possible surgical pain if future generations get the same idea as the Korean woman, and then turn to fundamental genetic alteration that will effect their progeny too! People who object to this may argue that we should learn to love what we have, or what we are born with. Indeed we should. But the natural attraction to beauty is universal and undeniable. How we look not only matters for marriage, but also for one’s job and social life. Academic studies have found that we are more likely to earn more and make more friends with good looks, especially for females.

So the market for good looks, or willingness to pay, has huge potential. As I argue in Chapter 9 of my book, the posthuman future should and will be driven, at least initially, by our most basic animal-like desires,simply because they are the strongest driver for most people. Since the divergence of skin color and facial features is a very recent phenomenon, we may look different but will be essentially the same person; thus, this step should be relatively easy and low risk, i.e., relatively free of unintended consequences.

But once we learn how to democratize movie-star looks through genetic engineering, will we be satisfied? Most likely not. As looks become less of a differentiator, we will appreciate other personal characteristics more, such as kindness and intelligence.
Now interventions to achieve those attributes is serious genetic engineering. And furthermore, at what I call the second stage of conscious evolution, we should even be able to modify our innate desires and preferences themselves, including aesthetic values. At that point, another concern about cosmetic genetic engineering will be addressed: we will no longer be satisfied with the same movie star looks. Humanity will diversify and flourish, sometimes beyond our recognition.

(via Beauty Is Skin-deep—But That’s Where Genetic Engineering Is Going Next)

Being forced to confront the prospect of failure head-on - to study it, dissect it, tease apart all its components and consequences - really works. After a few years of doing that pretty much daily, you’ve forged the strongest possible armor to defend against fear: hard-won competence.

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (via whats-out-there)

Reblogged from What's Out There

We compress information to generate our laws of Nature, and then use these laws of Nature to generate more information, which then gets compressed back into upgraded laws of Nature. The dynamics of the two arrows is driven by our desire to understand the Universe.

Vlatko Vedral (via inthenoosphere)

Reblogged from NOOSPHE.RE

The man-made-world is a condensation of the imagination; It’s the spillover and rendering of our dreams before our very eyes… and as our technical proficiency accelerates, bootstrapping on its own complexity, we are shrinking the buffer time between what we conjure up in our minds and our ability to instantiate it in front of our eyes, and this whole phenomenon is part of our ongoing evolution.

McKenna (via inthenoosphere)

Reblogged from NOOSPHE.RE