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kottke.org posts about genetics

DNA evidence suggests that chimps and humans

posted by Jason Kottke   May 22, 2006

DNA evidence suggests that chimps and humans interbreed after splitting into separate species before splitting again for good.

Evolution on the molecular level appears to

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2006

Evolution on the molecular level appears to happen significantly faster for tropical species than for those that live in more temperate climates.

The Edge has a transcript and an

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2006

The Edge has a transcript and an mp3 recording of an event called The Selfish Gene: Thirty Years On. The speakers include Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins.

America’s Stone Age Explorers

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2006

Watched America’s Stone Age Explorers on PBS this evening, a summary of recent findings about who the first Americans were, where they came from, and when they arrived. Recent genetic and archeological evidence suggests they arrived earlier than generally accepted and may have originated from Europe rather than Asia.

To Dr. David Hague, human pregnancy is

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2006

To Dr. David Hague, human pregnancy is a struggle between the fetus and mother. Evolutionarily speaking, the fetus “wants” as many resources as possible for itself while the mother “wants” to do what she can to spread her resources across as many children as possible. In theory, this is a cause of the many serious health problems surrounding pregnancy.

Update: Carl Zimmer has more about this on his blog.

This is fascinating…”sex might have evolved

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 07, 2006

This is fascinating…”sex might have evolved as a way to concentrate lots of harmful mutations into individual organisms so they could be easily weeded out by natural selection”.

Kian and Remee are twin daughters born

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 27, 2006

Kian and Remee are twin daughters born to a UK couple…one is black and one is white. “If a sperm containing all-white genes fuses with a similar egg and a sperm coding for purely black skin fuses with a similar egg, two babies of dramatically different colours will be born. The odds of this happening are… a million to one.”

Justin reports on his family’s results of

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2006

Justin reports on his family’s results of a neat project called the Geneographic Project, co-produced by National Geographic and IBM. If you purchase a testing kit, they’ll trace the specific genetic markers of your ancestors back to (possibly) our common African root.

Why do people believe in God? Evidence

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 21, 2005

Why do people believe in God? Evidence suggests that it’s partially inherited. “The degree of religiosity was not strongly related to the environment in which the twin was brought up. Even if one identical twin had been brought up in an atheist family and the other in a religious Catholic household, they would still tend to show the same kind of religious feelings, or lack of them.”

For some real controversy over evolution, check

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 19, 2005

For some real controversy over evolution, check out evo devo, or “evolutionary developmental biology”. Its proponents claim that evolution works primarily by changing when certain genes are expressed, not via changing genes themselves. Scientific American has more.

In the five years since the sequencing

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 19, 2005

In the five years since the sequencing of the human genome, “much of the data have little immediately useful meaning, and the research has produced only a trickle of medicine”. And where medical science has failed, hucksters have filled the gap.

Twenty percent of the human genome is

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 18, 2005

Twenty percent of the human genome is patented. I expect that someday in the future, my morning will be interrupted by a lawyer telling me that the company he represents holds a patent on the biochemical conversion of foodstuffs to energy suitable for powering a biological organism and that I should cease and desist eating my Cheerios.

Two of the biggest pessimists in the

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 17, 2005

Two of the biggest pessimists in the business, Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil, outline their case for not releasing the genome for the 1918 influenza virus. “The genome is essentially the design of a weapon of mass destruction. No responsible scientist would advocate publishing precise designs for an atomic bomb, and in two ways revealing the sequence for the flu virus is even more dangerous.”

Flowers don’t smell as good as they

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 30, 2005

Flowers don’t smell as good as they used to and part of the reason is breeding…they’re breeding flowers for looks and longevity, not for scent. I believe Michael Pollan discusses this in his excellent The Botany of Desire (tulip chapter).

Scientists are having a bit of fun

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 20, 2005

Scientists are having a bit of fun wondering about the genetics of wizardry in Harry Potter. “This suggests that wizarding ability is inherited in a mendelian fashion, with the wizard allele (W) being recessive to the muggle allele (M). According to this hypothesis, all wizards and witches therefore have two copies of the wizard allele (WW).”

And, the rest of the (AIGA Conference) story

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 20, 2005

Here’s a sampling of the rest of the AIGA Design Conference, stuff that I haven’t covered yet and didn’t belong in a post of it’s own:

For more of what people are saying about the conference, check out IceRocket. There’s a bunch of photos on Flickr as well.

The human brain may have undergone “substantial

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2005

The human brain may have undergone “substantial evolution” in the past 60,000 years.

Lengthy examination of what makes people gay

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 26, 2005

Lengthy examination of what makes people gay by the Boston Globe. “What makes the case of [identical twins] Patrick and Thomas so fascinating is that it calls into question both of the dominant theories in the long-running debate over what makes people gay: nature or nurture, genes or learned behavior.”

A small ocean microbe called Pelagibacter has

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 26, 2005

A small ocean microbe called Pelagibacter has the smallest genome of any self-sufficient organism with 1,354 genes. It also doesn’t appear to have any extra DNA…no junk or redundant copies of genes.

The Red Delicious apple has fallen out

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 08, 2005

The Red Delicious apple has fallen out of favor. It’s been dumbed down too much for the market. For more on apples, see Michael Pollan’s excellent The Botany of Desire.

Male and female fire ants maintain their

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 12, 2005

Male and female fire ants maintain their own independent gene pools. “The sperm of the male ant appears to be able to destroy the female DNA within a fertilized egg, giving birth to a male that is a clone of its father. Meanwhile the female queens make clones of themselves to carry on the royal female line.”

Advancing scientific research means that chimeric animals

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2005

Advancing scientific research means that chimeric animals are on the way. “In the case of human cells’ invading the germ line, the chimeric animals might then carry human eggs and sperm, and in mating could therefore generate a fertilized human egg. Hardly anyone would desire to be conceived by a pair of mice.”