Lecture 9: Human Genetics | Video Lectures | Introduction …

I want to go back a second to the end of last time because in the closing moments there, we, or at least I, got a little bit lost, and where the plusses and minuses were at a certain table.

And, I want to go back and make sure we’ve got that straight.

We were talking about a situation where we were trying to use genetics, and the phenotypes that might be observed in mutants to try to understand the biochemical pathway because we’re beginning to try to unite the geneticist’s point of view who looks only at mutants, and the biochemist’s point of view who looks at pathways and proteins.

And, I had hypothesized that there was some biochemists who had thought up a possible pathway for the synthesis of arginine that involved some precursor, alpha, beta, gamma, where alpha is turned into beta; beta is turned into gamma; and gamma is used to turn into arginine. And, hypothetically, there would be some enzymes: enzyme A that converts alpha, enzyme B that converts beta, and enzyme C that converts gamma.

And, we were just thinking about, what would the phenotypes look like of different arginine auxotrophs that had blocks at different stages in the pathway. If I had an arginine auxotroph that had a block here because let’s say a mutation in a gene affecting this enzyme, or at a block here at a mutation affecting, say, the gene that encodes enzyme C, how would I be able to tell very simply that they were in different genes? Last time, we found that we could tell they were in different genes by doing a cross between a mutant that had the first mutation, and a mutant that had the second mutation, and looking at the double heterozygote, right? And, if in the double heterozygote you had a wild type or a normal phenotype, then they had to be in different genes, OK? Remember that?

That was called a test of complementation.

That was how we were able to sort out which mutations were in the same gene, and which mutations were in different genes.

Now we can go a step further. When we’ve established that they’re in different genes, we can try to begin to think, how do these genes relate to a biochemical pathway?

I wanted to begin to introduce, because it’ll be relevant for today, this notion: so, suppose I had a mutation that affected enzyme A so that this enzymatic step couldn’t be carried out.

Such a mutant, when I just try to grow it on minimal medium won’t be able to grow. If I give it the substrate alpha, it doesn’t do it any good because it hasn’t got the enzyme to convert alpha. So, given alpha, it won’t grow. But if I give it beta, what will happen? It can grow because I’ve bypassed the defect. What about if I give it gamma? Arginine?

Now, if instead the mutation were affecting enzymatic step here, then if I give it on minimal or medium but it can grow on gamma. What about this last line?

If I have a mutation and the last enzymatic step, minimal medium can’t grow with alpha, can’t grow with beta, can’t even grow with gamma. But, it can grow with arginine because I’ve bypassed that step. So, I get a different phenotype, the inability to grow even on gamma, but I can grow on arginine. Now, here, if I put together those mutants and make a double mutant, a double homozygote, let’s say, that’s defective in both A and B, which will it look like? Will it be able to grow on minimal medium? Will it be able to grow on alpha?

Will it be able to grow on beta?

Will it be able to grow on gamma and arginine? What about if I have a double mutant in B and C, minus, minus, minus, minus, plus? So this looks the same as that. This looks the same as that.

And so, by looking at different mutant combinations, I can see that the phenotype of B here is what occurs in the double mutant. So, this phenotype is epistatic to this phenotype.

Epistatic means stands upon, OK? So, phenotypes, just like phenotypes can be recessive or dominant, you can also speak about them being epistatic. And epistatic means when you have both of two mutations together at the epistatic then one of them is epistatic to the other, perhaps.

It will, in fact, be the one that is present.

So, this is not so easy to do in many cases because if I take different kinds of mutation affecting wing development, and I put them together in the same fly, I may just get a very messed up wing, and it’s very hard to tell that the double mutant has a phenotype that looks like either of the two single mutants.

But sometimes, if they fall very nicely in a pathway where this affects the first step, this affects the second step this affects the third step, this affects the fourth step, then the double mutant will look like one of those, OK? And, that way you can somehow order things in a biochemical pathway. Now, notice, this is all indirect, right? This is what geneticists did in the middle of the 20th century to try to figure out how to connect up mutants to biochemistry.

Actually, that’s not true. It’s what geneticists still do today because you might think that Well, we don’t need to do this anymore, but in fact geneticists constantly are looking at mutants and making connections trying to say, what does this double combination look like? What does that double combination look like, and how does that tell us about the developmental pathway, which cell signals which cell? This turns out to be one of the most powerful ways to figure out what mutations do by saying the combination of two mutations looks like the same as one of them, allowing you to order the mutations in a pathway.

And, there’s no general way to grind up a cell and order things in a pathway. Genetics is a very powerful tool for doing that.

Now, there are some ways to grind up cells and order things, but you need both of these techniques to believe stuff.

Anyway, I wanted to go over that, because it is an important concept, the concept of epistasis, the concept of relating mutations to steps and pathways, but what I mostly want to do today is go on now to talk about genetics not in organisms like yeast or fruit flies or even peas, but genetics in humans.

So, what’s different about genetics in humans than genetics in yeast?

You can’t choose who mates with whom. Well, you can.

I mean, in the days of arranged marriages maybe you couldn’t, but you can choose who mates with whom, but only for yourself, right? What you can’t do is arrange other crosses in the human population as an experimentalist. Now, your own choice of mating, unfortunately or fortunately perhaps produces too few progeny to be statistically significant. As a parent of three, I think about what it would take to raise a statistically significant number of offspring to draw any conclusions, and I don’t think I could do that.

So, you’re absolutely right. We can’t arrange the matings that we want in the human population. So, that’s the big difference.

So, can we do genetics anyway? How do we do genetics even though we can’t arrange the matings the way we’d like to? Sorry?

Well, family trees. We have to take the matings as we find them in the human population. You can talk to somebody who might have an interesting phenotype, I don’t know, attached earlobes, or very early heart disease, or some unusual color of eyes, and begin to collect a family history on that person.

It’s a little bit of a dodgy thing because you might just be relying on that person’s recollection. So, if you were really industrious about this, you’d go check out each of their family members and test for yourself whether they have the phenotype. People who do serious human genetic studies often go and do that. They have to go confirm, either by getting hospital records or interviewing the other members of the family, etc. So, this is not as easy as plating out lots of yeasts on a Petri plate.

And then you get pedigrees. And the pedigrees look like this.

Here’s a pedigree. Tell me what you make of it.

Now, symbols: squares are males, circles are females by convention, a colored in symbol means the phenotype that we’re interested in studying at the moment. So, in any given problem, somebody will tell you, well, we’re studying some interesting phenotype. You often have an index case or a proband, meaning the person who comes to clinical attention, and then you chase back in the pedigree and try to reconstruct.

So, suppose I saw a pedigree like this.

What conclusions could I draw? Sorry? Recessive, sex link trait; why sex link trait? So, let’s see if we can get your model up here. You think that this represents sex-linked inheritance. So, what would the genotype be of this male here? Mutant: I’ll use M to denote a mutant carried on the X chromosome, and a Y on the opposite chromosome.

What’s the genotype of the female here?

So, it’s plus over plus where I’ll use plus to denote the gene carried on the normal X chromosome. OK, and then what do you think happened over here? So, mutant over plus, you mate to this male who is plus over plus. Why is that male plus over plus? Oh, right, good point.

It’s not plus over plus. It’s plus over Y. Why is that male plus over Y as opposed to mutant over Y?

He’d have the mutant phenotype. So, he doesn’t have the mutant phenotype so he can infer he’s plus over Y. OK, and then what happens here? Mutant over Y; this is plus over Y. How did this person get plus over Y? They just the plus for mom, and the daughters, Y from dad, and a plus from mom. That’s cool. Now, what about the daughters there? They’re plus over plus, or M over plus? Is one, one, and one the other? Well, in textbooks it’s always plus over plus and M over plus, but in real life? We don’t know, right? So, this could be plus over plus, or M over plus, we don’t know, OK? Now, what about on this side of the pedigree here?

What’s the genotype here? Plus over Y, OK.

Why not mutant over Y? Because if they got the mutant, it would have to come from the, OK, so here, plus over plus, and then here, everybody is normal because there’s no mutant allele segregated.

Yes? Yeah, couldn’t there just be recessive? I mean, it’s a nice story about the sex link but couldn’t it be recessive? So, walk me through it being recessive. M over plus, plus over plus. Wait, wait, wait, hang on. Could this be M over plus, and that person be affected?

It’s got to be M over M, right so mutants over mutants but that’s possible. Yeah, OK. So, what would this person be? Plus over plus, let’s say, come over here. Now, what would this person be? M plus. It has to be M plus because, OK, and what about this person here? M plus, now what about the offspring? So, one of them is M over M, plus over plus, and two M pluses. Does it always work out like that?

[LAUGHTER] No, it doesn’t always work out like that at all.

So, I’m just going to write plus over plus here just to say, tough, right? In real life, it doesn’t always come out like that.

What about over here? It would have to be plus over plus.

Why not? It doesn’t because it could be M over plus and have no effect at offspring by chance, right? But, you were going to say it’s plus over plus because in the textbooks it’s always plus over plus in pictures like this, right? And then, it all turns out to be pluses and mutants, and pluses and mutants, and all that, right? Well, which picture’s right?

Sorry? You don’t know. So, that’s not good. There’s supposed to be answers to these things. Could either be true? Which is more likely? The one on the left? Why? More statistically probable, how come? Because it is. It may not quite suffice as a fully complete scientific answer though.

Yes? Yep. Well, but I have somebody who is affected here. So, given that I’ve gotten affected person in the family — yeah, so it is actually, you’re right, statistically somewhat less likely that you would have two independent M’s entering the same pedigree particularly if M is relatively rare.

If M is quite common, however, suppose M were something was a 20% frequency in the population, then it actually might be quite reasonable that this could happen. So, what would you really want to do to test this? Sorry? Well, if you found any females here maybe you’d be able to conclude that it was autosomal recessive because females never show a sex-linked trait. Is that true?

No, that’s not true. Why not? You’re right. So, you just have to be homozygous for it on the X. So, having a single female won’t, I mean, she’s not going to take that as evidence. Get an affected female and demonstrate that all of her male offspring show the trait. Cross her with, wait, wait.

This is a human pedigree guys [LAUGHTER]. Whew! There are issues involved here, right? You could introduce her to a normal guy, [LAUGHTER] but whether you can cross her to a normal guy is not actually allowed. So, you see, these are exactly the issues in making sense out of pedigrees like this.

So, what you have to do is you have to collect a lot of data, and the kinds of characteristics that you look for in a pedigree, but they are statistical characteristics, and notwithstanding — So, this could be colorblindness or something, but notwithstanding the pictures in the textbook of colorblindness and all that, you really do have to take a look at a number of properties. What are some properties?

One you’ve already referred to which is there’s a predominance in males if it’s X-linked. Why is there a predominance in males? Well, there’s a predominance in males because if I have an X over Y and I’ve got a mutation paired on this X chromosome, males only have to get it on one.

Females have to get it on both, and therefore it’s statistically more likely that males will get it. So, for example, the frequency of colorblindness amongst males is what? Yeah, it’s 8-10%, something like that. I think it’s about 8% or so.

And, amongst females, well, if it’s 8% to get one, what’s the chance you’re going to get two?

It’s 8% times 8% is a little less than 1% right?

It’s 0.64%, OK, in females. So, we’ll just go 8% squared. So in males, 8% in females, less than one percent.

So, there is a predominance in males of these sex-linked traits. Other things: affected males do not transmit the trait to the kids, in particular do not transmit it to their sons, right, because they are always sending the Y chromosomes to their songs. Carrier females transmit to half of their sons, and affected females transmit to all of their sons. And, the trait appears to skip generations, although I don’t like this terminology.

It skips generations. These are the kinds of properties that you have. So, hemophilia, a good example of this, if I have a child with hemophilia, male with hemophilia, would you be surprised if his uncle had hemophilia? Which uncle would it be, maternal or paternal?

The maternal uncle would have hemophilia most likely.

It’s always possible it could be paternal. This is the problem with human genetics is you’ve got to get enough families so the pattern becomes overwhelmingly clear, OK, because otherwise, as you can see with small numbers, it’s tough to be absolutely certain.

So, these are properties of X linked traits.

How about baldness? Is baldness, that’s a sex-linked trait? How come? You don’t see a lot of bald females.

Does that prove it’s sex linked? Sorry? Guys are stressed more.

[LAUGHTER] Is there evidence that it has anything to do with stress?

Actually, it has to do with excess testosterone it turns out, that high levels of testosterone are correlated with male pattern baldness, but does the fact that males become bald indicate that this is a sex linked trait? No. Just because it’s predominant in male, we have to check these other properties.

Is it the case that bald fathers tend to have bald sons?

Any evidence on this point? Common-sensical evidence from observation? It’s pretty clear. It’s very clearly not a sex-linked trait. It’s a sex-limited trait, because in order to show this you need to be male because the high levels of testosterone are not found in females even if they have the genotype that might predispose them to become bald if they were male. So, it actually is not a sex-linked trait at all, and it’s very clear that male pattern baldness does run in families more vertically. So, you’ve got to be careful about the difference between sex linked and sex limited, and sex linked you can really pick out from transmission and families.

OK, here’s another one. New pedigree.

She married twice here. OK, what do we got?

Yep? She married again. She married twice. She didn’t have any offspring the second time. But that happens, and you have to be able to draw it in the pedigree.

She’s entitled, all right. OK, so she got married again, no offspring from this marriage. That’s her legal symbol. You guys think that’s funny. It’s real, you know?

OK, that doesn’t mean she’s married to two people at the same time.

This is not a temporal picture. So, what do we got here? Yep?

Sorry, of this person? Well, I’m drawing them as an empty symbol here, indicating that we do not think they have the trait.

They’re not carriers. How do you propose to find that out?

Look at the children. Well, the children are affected. They could be carriers. The data are what they are.

You’ve got to interpret it. Does this person have to be a carrier? What kind of trait do you think this is?

Dominant? Does this look like autosomal dominant to you?

Yep? Oh, not all the kids have the trait in the first generation, and if this was dominant, they’d all have it? What’s a possible genotype for this person?

Mutant over plus. And, these kids could be mutant over plus.

This could be plus over plus, and this could be plus over plus, mutant over plus, plus over plus, mutant over plus, and plus over plus would be one possibility. On average, what fraction of the kids should get the trait? About half the kids, right? So, let’s see what characteristics we have here. We see the trait in every generation.

On average, half the kids get the trait.

Half of the offspring of an affected individual are affected.

What else? Males and females? Roughly equal in males and females?

Sorry? One, two, three, four, five to two. So, it’s a 5:2 ratio?

Oh, in the offspring it’s a 2:1 ratio. So, this is like Mendel.

You see this number and you say, OK, 2:1. Isn’t that trying to tell me something? Not with six offspring. That’s the problem is with six offspring, 2:1 might be trying to tell you 1:1.

And it is. If I had a dominantly inherited trait where there’s a 50/50 chance of each offspring getting the disease and it was autosomal, not sex linked, there would be very good odds of getting two males and one female because it happens: flip coins and it happens. So, you have to take that into account, and here you see what else we have. Roughly equal numbers of males and females, they transmit equally, and unaffecteds never transmit.

This would be the classic autosomal dominant trait.

Right, here this mutant would go mutant over plus, mutant over plus, plus over plus, mutant over plus, plus over plus, plus over plus, and you’d see here that three out of the five here, and one, two, three out of the six there: that’s a little more than half but it’s small numbers here, right? This is a classic autosomal dominant as in the textbooks. Yes? Turns out not to make too much of a difference. It turns out that there’s lots of genome that’s on either. And so, it is true that males are more susceptible to certain genetic diseases.

So, it’ll be some excess, but it won’t matter for this.

Now, in real life it doesn’t always work so beautifully.

We’ll take an example: colon cancer. There are particular autosomal dominant mutations here that cause a high risk of colon cancer.

People who have mutations in a certain gene, MLH-1, have about a 70% risk of getting colon cancer in their life.

But notice, it’s not 100%. You might have incomplete penetrance.

Incompletely penetrance means not everybody who gets the genotype gets the phenotype. Not all people with the M over plus genotype show the phenotype. Once you do that, it messes up our picture colossally, because, tell me, how do we know that this person over here is not actually M over plus.

Maybe they’re cryptic. They haven’t shown the phenotype.

And maybe, it’ll appear in the next generation. That’ll screw up everything. It screws up our rule about not transmitting through unaffected, it screws up the rule about not being shown in every generation, and it will even screw up our 50/50 ratio because if half the offspring get M over plus, but only 70% of that half show the phenotype, then only 35% of the offspring will show the phenotype. Unfortunately, this is real life.

The rest is here:

Lecture 9: Human Genetics | Video Lectures | Introduction …

The Myths and History of Red Hair – Aliens, Atlantis and …

Homepage Aliens, Atlantis and Internet Conspiracies

Whilst scouring the Internet for information about red hair I’ve came across countless strange beliefs and conspiracies. A lot of them I find fascinating. I’ll reproduce some of the more interesting ones here. For the most part I’ve found these ideas amusing, but I must admit there’s always a slight doubt at the back of my mind – after all, who am I to judge what’s true and false. Maybe the truth is stranger than we’d all care to imagine.

One peculiar internet article I came across carried the heading, “The Master Race becomes Friendly Aliens.” In it the writer explains how the “familiar Nazi agenda is still being propagated” by aliens of “Germanic, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon” stock. These aliens in question are generally called “Nordics” by the UFO community and the writer describes them thusly:

“They are all tall, Blond or Red Hair with Blue eyes. They average in height from 6′ to 61/2′ tall with some reported to be as tall as 8′.”

The article continues, stating:

“Consistent to the reports throughout the world in regards to Nordics is the near perfect physical appearance. No one has ever reported plain or physically deficient members in their company. Just what one may expect if you had a choice in the matter through controlled genetics.”

Another message board article I came across was titled “Are redhead’s DNA of alien origin?” On it was posted this:

“There is another race that has branched off from this giant race, the red-haired Lyrans. Their hair was red to strawberry blonde in color. The skin tone very, very fair; these entities had a difficulty exposing their skin to certain frequencies of natural light, due to the planet they sprang from. Some of these were also giant in stature, though there were some who were average human size. Eye color was generally light to what you would now consider green, though it is a different quality of green than you see upon your world. These entities were some of the first Lyran pioneers. (Pioneers is a very kind word, for there are many worlds that consider the red-haired ones to be the invaders, marauders and the basic havoc-wreakers of the Lyran genotype).”

I’ve since read that the “Lyrans” are quite well-known in ufological circles and that, as the article states, they are generally seen as being red-haired. The post continues, making a link between these red-haired “Lyrans” and the redheads on earth:

“Well, to some degree we are speaking about the distant past as they interacted with your earth plane. These entities still exist but are much fewer in number. We would say that your closest mythological remnants are in your Norse mythology – Vikings etc. Some of that mythology was about actual Earth beings who were either influenced by or interacted with this red-headed Lyran strain. This is not a very common interaction on your world, not as common as that of the giants, but common enough to have made it into your mythology.”

The post then carries on:

“Apparently there’s a remnant of a red-haired group in the Pleiades…[t]he Pleiadian version is much more watered down. But the purebred red-head was very aggressive, violent, passionate and, to some degree, very rebellious.”

The article also asks the question,

“Did these red-haired people naturally evolve as red-haired, or was there intentional manipulation somewhere along the line?”

I keep imagining an episode of StarTrek were Captain Kirk lands on a planet inhabited entirely by ginger people.

In fact, the post actually reminds me of the famous “Villas Boas” abduction case. A case concerning a young Brazilian farmer, named Antonio Villas Boas, who was apparently abducted by a UFO and forced into a liaison with a beautiful alien woman who had red pubic hair. Incidentally, I also remember watching a TV show about UFO abductions a while back that stated that there had been a spate of abduction cases in Turkey that all specified red-haired aliens.

It’s amazing the number of articles I’ve come across on the internet that associate red hair with royalty and ruling elites. In fact, one comment I read on a blog about world political leaders stated:

“[A]nother disproportional thing in politics is hair color. the number of leaders who have red hair is actually amazing…how many of the founding fathers of the USA were redheads? lenin [and] Trotsky…malcom X…How much of the royal families? Cleopatra, napoleon, Alexander the great…seems like red hair and conquering the world go together.”

The commenter also relates some of his own personal experience of living with the colour:

“[W]hen i walk sometimes past old columbian women, they cross themselves and you can hear them say in spanish things against the devil.”

Another article I came across associated red hair with secret societies. The writer of this particular article linked red hair with the symbol of the rose and wrote:

“It’s all about the rose. It means rose-cross, or red cross of the Templars. It is found in rose-line, or Rosslyn, the Chapel of the Sinclairs. And, as strange as this may sound, red hair is their characteristic feature.”

It continued:

“It is a sign of descent from the Edomites, or more specifically, the Scythians of southern Russia, who were the Lost Tribes. They were known to the Jews of the Middle Ages as Red Jews. They later became Khazars. All the leading bloodlines of Europe descend from them. That’s the point of Brown’s book, that Da Vinci, painted the Magdalene with red hair, it is the ultimate signal.”

I found one foray into red-hair conspiracy lurking in the review section on Amazon. It was a review for the book “Henry Neville and The Shakespeare Code” by Brenda James, a book that questions the authorship of the works of Shakespeare. The enthusiastic reviewer wrote:

“MY THEORY…!!…is that Elizabeth [the First] was not a virgin – and had at least 8 children, among them Oxford, Bacon, Neville, Philip and Mary Sidney (I think their adoptive father was Elizabeth’s half brother), Essex, Cecil junior, and Southampton. You will find an act of parliament passed when she was 50 saying that the issue of her body will be her heirs – not her legally born children! If you remember that was what caused Henry VIIIs troubles – he did have illegitimate children, but tried impossibly hard to get a legal son – even changing the religion in England to do so. Every other King in Europe had tons of illegitimate children – so why not Elizabeth? Elizabeth’s very first letter to Cecil, when she is 13 or 14, asks him to squash the rumours going around that she is pregnant!”

“It goes on and on ..! Elizabethan history is a whole lot more interesting to me now! Everything fits, for the first time. All those loose ends, that made no sense. Why did Leicester adopt Essex? Well, he was his own son, by Elizabeth! Why did Elizabeth make Cecil a Baron the day before his daughter was married? Because his daughter was marrying Elizabeth’s own first son. It is endless – I could go on for hours! The modern world was created by Elizabeth’s bastards! They were all placed by Cecil, brilliantly educated, and given the European tour. Some of the plays are quite possibly a family effort! It is a BIG story! A Hollywood blockbuster – somebody will do it one day.”

“Look at the portraits of Elizabeth’s children – they all have thin faces with curly orangery hair – like their parents! I believe that if both parents have red hair the children must all have red hair too. Is that right? Leicester was with Elizabeth for about 15 years. I think they found his last letter to her on the desk next to her bed when she died.”

Although the tone of this review amuses me somewhat, I must admit that the issue does fill me with suspicion. I don’t think the “virgin queen” had eight children, but personally, I’d be surprised if she had none either. And it is true that Henry Neville had red hair, as did Leicester and Elizabeth.

The same reviewer then wrote another piece, this time in the review section for the book “Oxford: Son of Queen Elizabeth I” by Paul Streitz, continuing on the same theme.

“Compare the pictures of Henry VIII, Elizabeth, Edward de Vere, Sir Henry Neville, and Henry Wriothesly, the Earl of Southampton. They all have red hair, and look remarkably similar. It is begining to look like Edward and the two Henrys could have been brothers!!”

Brilliant!

In many ways this continues on the theme of red-haired rulers. Of all the theories about red hair on the Internet this one seems to be the most abundant, and it goes something like this:-

All the ancient civilisations of pre-history were started and ruled by seafaring redheads, who originally came from a land over the sea, often, but not always, equated with Atlantis. The evidence for this can be found in ancient myths and in the mummified remains of redheaded people discovered around the globe.

For the most part these theories begin in ancient Egypt and are centred around the fact that many mummies have been found displaying red hair. Needless to say, these finds have led to much speculation about the origin of the ancient Egyptians and their glorious culture. The basic premise of the theory being that red-haired survivors from Atlantis at some point arrived and sowed the seeds of civilisation. As you can imagine a lot of this speculation is wildly inventive. One internet article I read, titled “Red Haired Mummies of Egypt,” began with this statement:

“There were the blue-bloods of Ancient Times which extended into European Times. They actually did have blue blood, and it was not hemoglobin based but copper based. They were semi-human. There are still to this day, some animal species in South America that have copper based blood systems. There was a problem with hemophilia, and not because of intermarrying. The problem was that they started to marry outside of the copper based blood system. Hemoglobin and copper systems don’t mix. That’s where the laws against marrying commoners originated. Lobsters, octopuses, squids and horseshoe crabs have copper based blue blood.”

Incidentally, Egypt isn’t the only place where red-haired mummies have been found. They’ve been found as far afield as China and Peru. The Tarim mummies were found in what is now present day Xinjiang, China and some of them possessed red hair. Likewise in Peru mummies have been found with striking red locks.

Other discoveries of red-haired mummies have come in Polynesia and the Canary Islands. In fact, both these places are, or were, noted for red-haired people. The Canary Islands was the home of the Guanches, a red-haired tribe that built monuments which can still be seen on the islands today. And red-haired people have been noted sporadically throughout parts of Polynesia, including New Zealand. One internet writer relayed the following legend:

“One Kiribati legend describes eels (Serpents?) coming ashore who turned into red haired men when they swam ashore. Another legend (Bue the Ancestor) describes one of these red men copulating with a woman who was bathing in the shallows at sunrise. The legend describes the “Sun” entering her loins, suggesting a child of the sun was born to her. When this child grew up, he set sail to the East (America) to look for his ancestors.”

The writer also noted:

“The Urekehu – or red heads amongst the Maori are believed to have come from a hot dry land to the East.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly the writer elaborated by making reference to Atlantis.

“I am not suggesting that Englishmen came and did the Jack in the Green dance in front of the Tolai, nor that a Scottish mason jumped ship and taught these people a secret handshake. What I am saying is that Both European and Pacific cultures have a common link a long long way back in time, possibly in Atlantis 11,500 years ago…[t]he ancient culture of Atlantis was not just carried on by the Egyptians, but was also carried on by the red haired civilization of Tulapin (Terapin/Turtle Island) and were a dominant population in America until 6,000 years ago.”

Of particular interest in regards red hair is Easter Island. An article in Fortean Times about the island stated:

“Ethnically, Rapa Nui are polynesian, though paler-skinned and with an anomalous genetic trait of red hair dating from before first contact with Europeans.”

It should also be noted that the large statues on the island all have “topknots” of red stone. Many believe that these represent red hair.

Although I often make light of these ideas it must be said that the presence of red hair so far afield is actually quite interesting. It either suggests that red hair blossoms accidentally in populations rather easily or that there was a lot more migration in pre-history than modern experts would have us believe.

Another interesting thing I came across on this general theme was the story of Lovelock Cave. This is apparently a cave in Nevada that was found to contain the remains of red-haired giants. The story goes that the Paiutes, a tribe of natives who inhabited the area, were at war with these giants and killed them off by ambushing them in the cave. One webpage I came across stated:

“Growing up in Nevada I had heard stories of the Sitecah from the Paiute Indians that lived in the area. They told of red-haired men and women of light colored skin as tall as 12 feet who originally lived in the area when the Paiutes had first arrived. Evidently these human giants liked to eat the Indians so they had problems making friends. The Indian tribes of the area finally joined and ambushed the giants killing most of them on the spot.”

Some of the comments on the page make particularly good reading. One posted:

“Nice Hub, I asked some of the old people about these so called ‘red haired giants’. I dont know what was more surprising, your hub or the fact one of our respected elders not only had a name for them but could tell me prominent ancestors who migrated hundreds of years ago to this land through the polynesian islands who were fair, had red hair and were so called giants!?!? I was gobsmacked! He was talking as if it were common knowledge!”

Another said:

“I have been a barber in Nevada for 35 years and I cut many Piaute men’s hair.. I have heard the stories about the red haired giants for many years. The older ones told me the giants ate some of their great, great grand parents and the story about going to Lovelock to kill them is absolutley true (according to many of these men).”

And a final mentioned:

“I am Paiute and have heard of these giants. I’m from Oregon near the Nevada border and have heard of the Paiutes in Nevada talk of these red-head giants. I heard where these giants lived in caves and did eat some of the Natives.”

I can only begin to imagine what other stories are lurking out there on the Internet waiting to be discovered.

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The Myths and History of Red Hair – Aliens, Atlantis and …

Sexy Hairstyles Gallery of Blondes, Brunettes, and …

Pictures of the hottest hairstyles in Hollywood by the top hairdressers in the industry…

[+] Farrah Fawcett Sexy Hair print ad. “Sexy is the only word to describe hair this shiny, this rich with body. And now sexy hair is just a shampoo away thanks to Farrah Fawcett Shampoo and Farrah Fawcett Creme Rinse Conditioner. Both with vitamins, minerals, protein and herbs. From Faberge.”

“Is it just me or is it hot in here?”

[+] Example of hair magazine advertising “sexy hair” as its main selling point.

“Sexy hair” is a catch-phrase often seen on the covers of the latest hair magazines for women. The reason is sexy hair is what women want more than anything. More than modern, beautiful, elegant, feminine, trendy, or easy, according to an online hairstyles survey, women want sexy.

Sexy hair is a top priority because a woman’s femininity and identity are wrapped up in her hair. Over 85% believe “your hair is part of your personality.” More than half go further and deeper; they believe a woman’s hairstyle is “a window to her soul.”

Women use their hair style to express their creativity and project their personality. It is a showcase of their essence. They also read other women based on their hairstyles; over 90% admit they have been jealous of another woman’s hair. If they get their hair done, but nobody notices, two thirds are offended.

Understanding how a woman views her tresses and the locks of other ladies, it is not surprising that her hair and her confidence are inseparable. Hair, indeed, means a lot to a woman’s self-confidence whether she likes her sensitivity to its appearance or not (44% don’t like doing their hair).

A great hair day can make her day, 90% admit; a bad hair day, 75% remember, can ruin it. Girls are willing to skip school or even work if they are having a bad hair day, or hide it under a hat.

When some women first learn that they have breast cancer, one of the most upsetting issues to them is the expected hair loss from radiation treatment–even more than a mastectomy. “Both men and women,” CNN concluded, “report hair loss as one of the side effects they fear most after being diagnosed with cancer.”

In response to the question, “How does your hairstyle affect your confidence?” over 40% of women answered, “extremely influential,” or ten on a scale of one to ten; and 85% admitted seven or higher.

Hair is so significant to women, half of them affirmed the bold slogan of a modern hair product ad campaign, “When your hair looks good, nothing else matters.” Do you have to bother with makeup if your hair looks good?

“A third of women say their hair is the most important part of their appearance,” the Daily Mail reported, “and they spend more time styling their hair than doing their make-up.” Total time during a woman’s life: 2.5 years. Total money? US$70,063.66.

Why? Why do women take their hair so seriously? Why is it such a big deal? What is at the root of its overarching significance? Is it part of Western culture and the product of continuous aggressive advertising? Or is it simply a natural part of being a woman? Does it come from within or without?

Wonder Woman’s voluminous hairstyle (Courtesy BL Productions)

Western culture does place some emphasis on good hair but not to the extreme of its long-running focus on being thin. Hair commercials are on TV in America and Canada every day–does a day ever go by without a Pantene commercial somewhere?–and print ads in fashion magazines show models with nice hair. You would be hard pressed to find a glossy women’s magazine nowadays without a shampoo advertisement–or even several consecutive ads–with picture-perfect glossy tresses.

But all this doesn’t lead to teen girls doing wild things which risk their health or prompt them to do something extreme with their hair, the way skinny fashion models in advertising have reportedly led to teen eating disorders. It is much more likely that women pay great attention to and spend so much time on their hair because they want perfect hair. It is not because someone else told them, the media harassed them, or society in general applied extreme pressure.

“What is sexy?” is a common generic question asked on the topic of dating, as both men and women wonder how they must behave and look to be attractive. Celebs, the general public, and experts alike all repeat the same popular answer: “confidence is sexy.”

“Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can have,” observed former model Aimee Mullins in the May 2004 issue of Oprah magazine. “Its much sexier than any body part.”

“A great figure or physique is nice,” notes Vivica A. Fox, the svelte actress and skilled dancer from Dancing with the Stars, “but it’s self-confidence that makes someone really sexy.”

“No matter what a woman looks like,” offers Paris Hilton, “if she’s confident, she’s sexy.”

What is the full relevance of and true connection between self-confidence and sexy hair? To choose a sexy hairstyle first you need to figure out what kind of hair style will make you confident, or in what kind of hairdo you will express and project confidence. A woman who is confident about her hair is confident about herself; that translates into sexy. Sexy hair and self-confidence, simply put, go hand in hand.

Great hair, of course, starts with healthy hair. Healthy is the foundation to all sexy physical attributes. “Full, healthy hair,” says Kristianna Nichols in Pageantry magazine, “is the essence of a woman.” Part of the healthy look is a natural clean look. The clean, “just-washed” and just-dried look can appear very attractive to some; whereas others think it looks robbed of its natural oils.

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” summarizes what often seems to be Western caucasian culture’s predominant view of the most sexy hair color. The popular fantasy female to the general white male population is blonde. Almost half of women color their hair, and more women dye their hair blonde than any other color. To both men and women alike it looks as if blonde is the color of sexy.

During World War II, the number one pin-up girl was a brunette: Rita Hayworth. Marilyn Monroe replaced her as the next queen of fantasy, the blonde goddess of the 1950s. Is society’s blonde obsession her fault, after her reign as pin-up queen and her starring role in the 1953 flick “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”? Is it part of her legacy? Since she became America’s leading goddess, blonde has been the hair color that the majority of American men find most sexy, judging by provocative advertising, if nothing else.

However, an online poll of 1,000 women shows male interest in brunettes is virtually neck and neck with blondes, according to the ladies. To the question, “What hair color does your boyfriend or fianc or husband find most attractive,” 44% said blonde whereas 42% answered brunette.

There is a saying, “Men prefer blondes but marry brunettes.” This idea is similarly phrased, “They prefer blondes for a moment and brunettes for a lifetime.” The underlying belief is the convergence of two stereotypes: the “dumb blonde” and the “blonde bombshell.” One study indicates men are more likely to trust brunettes and a poll shows almost 75% of women confirm “brunettes get more respect.”

Red hair color is also considered sexy by some men and others have a redhead f*tish. It is exotic, they feel, because it is rare. (Only 6% of women say their natural hair color is red.) Of course it is a dramatic color, very different from and more vivid than blonde and brown. Redheads have a reputation for being passionate. Other men find brunettes as sexy or most sexy, so nobody can say one hair color is “the” sexy hair color.

Dark sexy teased hair

Straight, wavy or curly? Long straight blonde hair is a look widely considered sexy. Part of its appeal is its simplicity and the “natural look.” Effortless is sexy. Wavy can also look sexy and flirty if not too forced.

Big is sexy. This is such a widely held belief, there is a company called Sexy Hair which puts out a product called Big Sexy Hair. The spokesmodel for Sexy Hair is American Idol runnerup Katharine McPhee. She was a natural choice because you can’t watch her sing without noticing her long, beautiful, healthy hair.

Feeling romantic and feeling sexy is virtually synonymous, or at least closely tied together. Women are equally divided about what makes them feel most romantic when it comes to wearing their hair up, down, or half up and half down. In fact, at one time during an ongoing hair poll, the margin of difference was within the margin of error, 33%, 34%, and 33%, to suggest that, interestingly enough, women are exactly equally divided.

When the poll moved to a web page focusing on a slightly younger demographic–teens planning prom–the numbers adjusted slightly, with more girls saying they prefer their hair down (+3%) than up (-3%).

Hot long retro hair: big, soft, and curly with full bangs (Courtesy NBC)

There are three considerations when you are considering a sexy hair style. Do you want a sexy hairstyle because it looks sexy to you? Or to people you are trying to impress? Or to one particular person? If just for you, everyone else’s opinion is basically irrelevant. If to the general single male population, for example, you have to know the more common views of sexy hair. If to one person, then you need to know their personal opinion. Just because many or most men think one hair style is sexy, does not mean the person you like does.

There are lots of hairstyles on this site that many women will find sexy. Probably quite a few men will, too. Currently most are the view from the front, but it is a fact that long hair viewed from the back is also HOT! Have hair like in the picture below and see if you can’t turn heads.

“Full, healthy hair is the essence of a woman.”Kristianna Nichols

Katharine McPhee

Cameron Diaz in Charlie’s Angels

$47,000/year Hair Extensions Video

“I can’t really put a price on how it makes me feel.” — Brandi Irwin

Victoria’s Secret Models

Alessandra Ambrosio

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Sexy Hairstyles Gallery of Blondes, Brunettes, and …

Freedom T-Shirts, Tees & Shirt Designs | Zazzle

You are browsing zazzle’s Freedom t-shirts section where you can find many styles, sizes, and colors of Freedom shirts available for customization or ready to buy as is. Most tee shirt orders ship in 24 hours. Some of the more popular styles are the standard white t-shirt, hoodies, polo shirts, ringer tees, and the trendy distressed tshirts. There is no minimum order size and most tees can be customized with your pictures and text. To see some of the other products available on zazzle.com, check out our main freedom page.

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Freedom T-Shirts, Tees & Shirt Designs | Zazzle

New York City Beaches and Topless Beaches

Amidst all the skyscrapers, it can be easy to forget that Manhattan is an island and New York City is surrounded by water, which means there are a number of options for beach-going. This list includes beaches that are located within New York City, as well as nearby.

Access to all New York City beaches is free. Swimming is only permitted when a lifeguard is on duty, from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Home to the famous Mermaid Parade (every June) this beach is a “must-see.” The Original Nathan’s hotdog stand is located just off the boardwalk. There are also freak shows and carnival rides nearby when you get tired of relaxing in the sand.

Beach Address: Surf Ave at Atlantic Shore, Brooklyn NY (718)946-1350 Lifeguard hours: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm from Memorial Day – Labor Day Nearest Subway: B, D, F, N, R at Stillwell Ave-Coney Island; D, F at W 8th St More

Rockaway Beach is one of the best beaches located within New York City limits. It is also New York City’s only surfing beach, with two separate stretches for surfing, as well as a boardwalk.

Beach Address: Atlantic Ocean, from Beach 1st St., Far Rockaway, to Beach 149th St., Neponsit Beach Phone: 718-318-4000 Subway to Beach: A train to Broad Channel Ferry to Beach: New York Beach Ferry More

This beach is among the cleaner NYC area beaches and has a topless / clothing-optional area. Facilities are somewhat limited, though there are attended bathrooms and some vending available.

Pictures of Gateway National Recreation Area More

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach spans 2.5 miles in the South Beach and Midland Beach neighborhoods of Staten Island. More

Brighton Beach offers visitors a spacious beach with a boardwalk, just a short distance from the more hectic Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk.

Brightwater Ave. Brooklyn NY 718-946-1350 Lifeguard hours: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm from Memorial Day – Labor Day Nearest Subway: B or Q to Brighton Beach

More: Brighton Beach Rules More

Great Kills Park in Staten Island is home to four beaches: New Dorp Beach; Cedar Grove Beach; Oakwood Beach; and Fox Beach.

Beach Address: Ebbitts Street and Cedar Grove Avenue, Staten Island NY 718-351-6970 Lifeguard hours: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm from Memorial Day – Labor Day Bus Directions: S76, S86 to Oakwood Beach to Ebbitts Street and Cedar Grove Avenue More

Beach Address: On Atlantic Ocean, Oriental Blvd., from Ocean Avenue to Mackenzie Street, Brooklyn NY 718-946-1373 Bus Directions: B1 from Brighton Subway Directions: Q to Sheepshead Bay Road. B49 to Cheapside to Oriental and Hastings Street More

Beach Address: Located in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Orchard Beach and Long Island Sound, Bronx, NY Beach Phone: 718-885-3273 Bus Directions: Bx12 & Bx5 go to Orchard Beach in the summer. In the Winter, take the Bx29 to the City Island Circle and walk to the beach. Subway Directions: Take the 6 line to its last stop, Pelham Bay Park and take the bus More

Breezy Point Beach is a private beach in Queens, but you can access it from Fort Tilden Beach in the Rockaways.

Beach Address: Rockaway Point Blvd Breezy Point, NY 11697 More

Located in Wolfe’s Pond Park, visitors to this Staten Island Beach will enjoy the option to explore the nearby wildlife preserve and open space of the park as well as the beach.

Beach Address: Raritan Bay and Prince’s Bay, Holton to Cornelia Avenues in Staten Island NY Beach Phone: 718-984-8266 Lifeguard Hours: Mon-Sun 10 am-6 pm Beach Directions:

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New York City Beaches and Topless Beaches

China defends reclamation of islands in disputed territory

Analysts say the pictures show how China is attempting to create facts in the water to bolster its sovereignty claims

7 AREAS: Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr presents photos of China’s reclamation projects in West Philippine Sea

The Philippines one of the most vocal of China’s neighbours in defending its competing territorial claim reacted strongly, calling for the Asian giant to “dismantle” the reclaimed land. (READ: PH fears ‘miscalculation’ in West PH Sea)

“They have to dismantle it,” said Peter Paul Galvez, spokesman for Manila’s defense department. “It is a concern not only of our country and region but of the whole international community.”

A series of satellite images posted on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies show a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto Mischief Reef and the resulting land spreading in size.

Before-and-after images of other outcrops in the Spratly Islands record runways appearing from jungle, smooth-sided solid masses where coral once lay, and man-made harbors replacing natural reefs.

Analysts say the pictures show how China is attempting to create facts in the water to bolster its sovereignty claims.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost the whole of the South China Sea, including areas close to the coasts of other littoral states, using a nine-segment line based on one that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all have overlapping claims.

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China defends reclamation of islands in disputed territory

Space Station Astronaut Snaps Breathtaking Pictures of Record-breaking Typhoon – Video



Space Station Astronaut Snaps Breathtaking Pictures of Record-breaking Typhoon
Super Typhoon Maysak's maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour are churning the waters of the Western Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, lashing the tiny island of Yap, with a population of only…

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Space Station Astronaut Snaps Breathtaking Pictures of Record-breaking Typhoon – Video

What NASA Learned from Orion Space Capsule's 1st Test Flight

PASADENA, Calif. NASA’s Orion capsule, which the agency is developing to help get astronauts to Mars and other destinations in deep space, aced its first flight test on Dec. 5, 2014.

During that unmanned mission, known as Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), Orion orbited Earth twice and then came zooming back to our planet to test out the capsule’s heat shield and other key technologies.

Space.com’s Rod Pyle recently discussed EFT-1 here at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) with Mark Geyer, the space agency’s Orion program manager, and Mike Hawes, vice president and Orion program manager for aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, which built the spacecraft for NASA. [See amazing photos from Orion’s first test flight]

Space.com: How does it feel to be headed back into deep space after all these years?

Hawes: I kind of choked up at the press conference after the flight. I started [my career] when the Apollo guys were still at JSC [Johnson Space Center] and learned from them, and now I finally felt like we had done this for our generation and for the other generations behind us something we hadn’t done for 40 years It’s a human spacecraft that’s going much farther than we have gone in a long time.

Geyer: We now have the capability to go to those places again, but in different ways. You think about Apollo we only visited the equator of the moon. A very small part, and just the facing side. Orion enables missions to the rest of the moon, to asteroids and eventually to Mars. It’s the piece that keeps the crew safe, gets them up and back.

Hawes: Some of the lunar science guys have done a plot where they put all of the Apollo traverses, even with the rovers. It’s on the scale of the National Mall in D.C. and we didn’t even explore the entire mall, so we have not “been there and done that.”

Geyer: Orion opens the moon up, opens asteroids up. It opens [Mars’ moons] Phobos [and] Deimos and eventually Mars. And the human element is key. [JPL’s] robots are incredible machines. But remember: When we sent a scientist to the moon, at the end, the geologist could adapt very quickly to what he found. This human element will multiply our ability to learn from wherever we go. [NASA’s 17 Apollo Moon Missions in Pictures]

Space.com: You learned a lot during and after EFT-1. Can you discuss some of the upcoming changes in Orion’s heat-shield design?

Geyer: Yes. Like Apollo, we used Avcoat. The structure itself is like a composite sheet, and on that is a honeycomb. You fill that honeycomb with Avcoat, with a device like a caulking gun. The material has to be a certain consistency and the right temperature, and you cure it in an oven in segments. It must also be bubble-free, and that’s part of the curing.

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What NASA Learned from Orion Space Capsule's 1st Test Flight

The price and privilege of free speech and a free press

Summary:Some countries and cultures have a hatred of our freedoms. Not only do they persecute their own subjects relentlessly, they feel they can reach outside of their own closed societies and attack us. They are wrong. We will not be silenced.

January 7, 2015: Gunmen armed with AK-47 automatic rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher attacked the Paris-based editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo. The newspaper has a history of printing satirical cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad in unflattering light.

Three days later, the Hamburg-based offices of Hamburger Morgenpost were firebombed, probably because they reprinted images from Charlie Hebdo.

This is not the first time Charlie Hebdo has been targeted. In 2011, in response to earlier satirical illustrations of Mohammad, the paper was the victim of a previous firebomb attack. The paper’s Web site was also hacked.

Speaking of hacking, we have all been following the news after the November 24, 2014 “scorched earth” hack attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Although all the details are still not known, it is believed the hack was perpetrated by North Korea because an American comedy movie, The Interview, featured a plot about assassinating the “Great Successor” Kim Jong-un.

For four months, beginning in 2012 and ending in 2013, The New York Times was the victim of an advanced persistent penetration attack attributed to the People’s Republic of China. The Gray Lady had been working on a series of investigative reports about billions of dollars of “hidden” financial transactions made by the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Around the same time, Rupert Murdoch himself reported that the Wall Street Journal had also been the victim of Chinese hacking. The Chinese were accused of digging around in the WSJ’s systems, looking for names of sources used for stories about China. Presumably, once the names were extracted by the attackers, those sources would then be “persuaded” to stop speaking out, jailed, or exterminated.

In December 2013, the Washington Post reported that it, too, was the victim of penetration attacks, the third in as many years. While the purpose of that hack was unknown, a previous hack by the Syrian Electronic Army had redirected WaPo readers to articles on a Syrian Web site supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Penetrations of WaPo systems going as far back as 2008 are attributed to China, stating “China’s cyber-espionage assists the government’s broader efforts to quell internal dissent by identifying activists and dissidents.”

From the violent attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Hamburger Morgenpost to the cyber-attacks on American media, the free press and free speech democratic societies take for granted is being targeted by a wide range of hostile actors determined to squelch, punish, and prevent certain topics of discussion.

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The price and privilege of free speech and a free press

A Couple Of Pictures Of The Freedom Tower & FDNY Ten House At Night In Manhattan – Video



A Couple Of Pictures Of The Freedom Tower FDNY Ten House At Night In Manhattan
Watch in “HD” New York City Fire Department – A Couple Of Pictures Of The Freedom Tower FDNY Ten House At Night In Manhattan. This wasnt a planned video but I like how the pictures came…

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A Couple Of Pictures Of The Freedom Tower & FDNY Ten House At Night In Manhattan – Video

Why science denial is about much more than corporate interests

Its not An Inconvenient Truth yet. But for a movie focused on climate change, Sony Pictures Classics Merchants of Doubt based on the widely read book of the same name by historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, and directed by Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) is already generating a huge volume of discussion. It seems poised to become a must-watch film in the climate debate.

The film, which opens today in Washington, D.C., explores along history of challenges tothe science behind a variety of environmental and public health risks. Smoking. CFCs. Acid rain. Climate change. In many cases, these challenges were linked to corporate interests thus the tobacco industry, for many years, questionedthe emerging science of smokings risks.

Merchants of Doubtis certainly landing in the right news cycle. It comes out in the wake of reports includingby The Washington Post about energyinterests funding of climate skeptic researcher Willie Soon, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In a statementposted on the Web site of the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, Soon responded thathe had been the subject of attacks in the media, but acknowledged that his research had been partly supported by some energy producers something he said had long been a matter of public record. Soon added that in submitting my academic writings I have always complied with what I understood to be disclosure practices in my field generally, consistent with the level of disclosure made by many of my Smithsonian colleagues.

It all plays into a common narrative: That industry doesnt want government regulations, so it tries tocast doubt on the science behind them. Many of those who go to see Merchants of Doubt will, I suspect, go with such a narrative in their minds.

But the film itself presents a more complex picture. True, Merchants of Doubt focuses a great deal on the role of industry in supporting scientific argumentsthat are consistent with less regulation. But it alsoshows that denial of science on issues like climate change is about much more than that. Its aboutcertain deep seated beliefs and ideologies particularly those championing the free market and individual liberty (which we tend to call libertarianism).

None of this is about the science, says Oreskes, a Harvard historian and co-author of the book behind the film, in the movie. All of this is a political debate about the role of government.

In another segment, the film follows libertarian-leaningSkeptic magazine founder Michael Shermer as he tries to convince his ideological compatriots that climate change isnt just something that liberals made up. Shermer concludes that the whole issue has become tribal. Indeed, you can see the emotion on screen at one point as Shermer is challenged from the audience at a libertarian gathering, where hes gone to present the case for climate change being real.

So whatreallydrives attacks on certain bodies of environmental and public health science? Is there a root cause?To address that question in the context of Merchants of Doubt, Icalled the woman behind it all Oreskes. In our conversation, I asked Oreskes whom Ive known for a long time about my concern. And she brought up what I considered a very goodanalogy to help both address it and also explain it.

Thats the chicken and egg thing, she explained. Theres two stories to be told: One is the supply of disinformation, and the other is the demand, why do people accept it, and buy it. Our book is definitely a supply side story, because we stumbled across a supply side story. I think the demand side is also important to understand.

Supply and demand.It fits the situation nicely.Supply in this context would refer to the volume of arguments and claims in the public arena that challenge mainstream science with respect to environmental or public health risks. For many of these issues, these claims take a similar form. Scientists have asserted the existence of a risk say, smoking causes lung cancer and the claims in question then sow doubt about this conclusion. (Hence the film and book title.)

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Why science denial is about much more than corporate interests

NASA satellites to study magnetic space explosions

A cosmic phenomenon in Earth’s magnetic field that is both dazzling and potentially dangerous for people on the surface is the focus of a new scientific mission, scheduled to launch into orbit on Thursday (March 12).

The Magnetsopheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, consists of four satellites that will study a process called magnetic reconnection: the explosive phenomenon that can send powerful bursts of particles hurtling toward Earth, potentially damaging satellites. But magnetic reconnection is also responsible for the auroras the northern and southern lights near Earth’s poles. Anew NASA video explains the MMS missionin detail.

MMS is the only dedicated instrument studying magnetic reconnection, and scientists say it could finally reveal how this phenomenon occurs. The mission requires an elaborately choreographed arrangement of four separate satellites in an orbit around Earth, placing them in the path of the magnetic reconnection events taking place right on Earth’s doorstep. [NASA’S Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission in Pictures]

“[MMS] is going to actually fly in Earth’s magnetosphere, this protective magnetic environment around the Earth,” Jeff Newmark, interim director of NASA’s heliophysics division, said in a Feb. 25 briefing. “We’re using this environment around the Earth as a natural laboratory. Rather than building one on Earth, we’re going to where magnetic reconnection actually occurs in space so we can understand it.”

You canwatch the MMS satellite launch Thursday, with NASA’s webcast beginning at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 March 13 GMT). Liftoff is set for 10:44 p.m. EDT (0244 a.m. March 13 GMT) atop an unmanned Atlas V rocket. Today at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), NASA will hold a science briefing webcast to discuss the mission.

While past space missions have also recorded some data on magnetic reconnection, MMS is the first space mission dedicated solely to studying this phenomenon, according to a statement from NASA. It will collect data 100 times faster than any previous mission that has observed magnetic reconnection in space. The $1.1 billion MMS mission was built and tested at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Magnetic fields can be found all over the universe. Planets, stars, galaxies,black holesand many other bodies create magnetic field lines that can wrap tightly around their parent bodies like vines, or wander loosely into space.

With one end attached to the positive side of a magnet, and the other end attached to the negative side, magnetic field lines are typically looped. Occasionally, a magnetic field line will snap, like a rubber band, before quickly reforming a loop. The snapping and reconnecting of magnetic field lines, also known asmagnetic reconnection, releases great bursts of energy, sometimes accelerating nearby particles close to the speed of light.

“Exactly how magnetic energy is destroyed in a reconnection event is completely unknown,” Jim Burch, MMS principle investigator, said in a news briefing on March 10.

When magnetic reconnection occurs in the sun it creates solar flares that explode off the surface. It can also cause coronal mass ejections, in which the solar flare belches up a storm of particles that hurtle outward into space sometimes straight toward Earth. The planet’s own magnetic field protects people on the ground from these particle storms, but orbiting satellites areat risk of being damaged.

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NASA satellites to study magnetic space explosions