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Human evolution: The astounding new story of the origin of our species – New Scientist

Forget the simple out-of-Africa idea of how humans evolved. A huge array of fossils and genome studies has completely rewritten the story of how we came into being.

By Graham Lawton

The Natural History Museum/Alamy

JEBEL IRHOUD, Morocco, 1961. In a barium mine in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, a miner makes a ghoulish discovery: a near-complete human skull embedded in the sediment. Archaeologists called in to investigate find that the skull is old, but not that old. It is filed away and largely forgotten.

Hinxton, UK, 2019. Robert Foley, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge, is giving the opening address at a three-day conference on human evolution. What Im pretty sure of is that, by the end of the first day, something like 20 per cent of what I say will be wrong, he says to the hall. By the end of the second day, something like 50 per cent will be wrong, and at the end of the conference, Im hoping that something I said at the beginning still holds true.

Until recently, the story of our origins was thought to be settled: Homo sapiens evolved in eastern Africa about 150,000 years ago, became capable of modern behaviour some 60,000 years ago and then swept out of Africa to colonise the world, completely replacing any archaic humans they encountered. But new fossils, tools and analyses of ancient and modern genomes are tearing apart that neat tale. The Jebel Irhoud skull has turned out to be a key to a new, slowly emerging paradigm. With the dust yet fully to settle, the question now is how many, if any, of our old assumptions still hold. Should we be thinking of a completely

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Human evolution: The astounding new story of the origin of our species - New Scientist

From Bats to Human Lungs, the Evolution of a Coronavirus – The New Yorker

There are endless viruses in our midst, made either of RNA or DNA. DNA viruses, which exist in much greater abundance around the planet, are capable of causing systemic diseases that are endemic, latent, and persistentlike the herpes viruses (which includes chicken pox), hepatitis B, and the papilloma viruses that cause cancer. DNA viruses are the ones that live with us and stay with us, Denison said. Theyre lifelong. Retroviruses, like H.I.V., have RNA in their genomes but behave like DNA viruses in the host. RNA viruses, on the other hand, have simpler structures and mutate rapidly. Viruses mutate quickly, and they can retain advantageous traits, Epstein told me. A virus thats more promiscuous, more generalist, that can inhabit and propagate in lots of other hosts ultimately has a better chance of surviving. They also tend to cause epidemicssuch as measles, Ebola, Zika, and a raft of respiratory infections, including influenza and coronaviruses. Paul Turner, a Rachel Carson professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University, told me, Theyre the ones that surprise us the most and do the most damage.

Scientists discovered the coronavirus family in the nineteen-fifties, while peering through early electron microscopes at samples taken from chickens suffering from infectious bronchitis. The coronaviruss RNA, its genetic code, is swathed in three different kinds of proteins, one of which decorates the viruss surface with mushroom-like spikes, giving the virus the eponymous appearance of a crown. Scientists found other coronaviruses that caused disease in pigs and cows, and then, in the mid-nineteen-sixties, two more that caused a common cold in people. (Later, widespread screening identified two more human coronaviruses, responsible for colds.) These four common-cold viruses might have come, long ago, from animals, but they are now entirely human viruses, responsible for fifteen to thirty per cent of the seasonal colds in a given year. We are their natural reservoir, just as bats are the natural reservoir for hundreds of other coronaviruses. But, since they did not seem to cause severe disease, they were mostly ignored. In 2003, a conference for nidovirales (the taxonomic order under which coronaviruses fall) was nearly cancelled, due to lack of interest. Then SARS emerged, leaping from bats to civets to people.The conference sold out.

SARS is closely related to the new virus we currently face. Whereas common-cold coronaviruses tend to infect only the upper respiratory tract (mainly the nose and throat), making them highly contagious, SARS primarily infects the lower respiratory system (the lungs), and therefore causes a much more lethal disease, with a fatality rate of approximately ten per cent. (MERS, which emerged in Saudi Arabia, in 2012, and was transmitted from bats to camels to people, also caused severe disease in the lower respiratory system, with a thirty-seven per cent fatality rate.) SARS-CoV-2 behaves like a monstrous mutant hybrid of all the human coronaviruses that came before it. It can infect and replicate throughout our airways. Thats why it is so bad, Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology who has been studying coronaviruses for more than three decades, told me. It has the lower-respiratory severity of SARS and MERS coronaviruses, and the transmissibility of cold coronaviruses.

One reason that SARS-CoV-2 may be so versatile, and therefore so successful, has to do with its particular talent for binding and fusing with lung cells. All coronaviruses use their spike proteins to gain entry to human cells, through a complex, multistep process. First, if one imagines the spikes mushroom shape, the cap acts like a molecular key, fitting into our cells locks. Scientists call these locks receptors. In SARS-CoV-2, the cap binds perfectly to a receptor called the ACE-2, which can be found in various parts of the human body, including the lungs and kidney cells. Coronaviruses attack the respiratory system because their ACE-2 receptors are so accessible to the outside world. The virus just hops in, Perlman told me, whereas its not easy to get to the kidney.

While the first SARS virus attached to the ACE-2 receptor, as well, SARS-CoV-2 binds to it ten times more efficiently, Kizzmekia Corbett, the scientific lead of the coronavirus program at the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center, told me. The binding is tighter, which could potentially mean that the beginning of the infection process is just more efficient. SARS-CoV-2 also seems to have a unique ability, which SARS and MERS did not have, to use enzymes from our human tissueincluding one, widely available in our bodies, named furinto sever the spike proteins cap from its stem. Only then can the stem fuse the virus membrane and the human-cell membrane together, allowing the virus to spit its RNA into the cell. According to Lisa Gralinski, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this supercharged ability to bind to the ACE-2 receptor, and to use human enzymes to activate fusion, could aid a lot in the transmissibility of this new virus and in seeding infections at a higher level.

Once a coronavirus enters a personlodging itself in the upper respiratory system and hijacking the cells hardwareit rapidly replicates. When most RNA viruses replicate themselves in a host, the process is quick and dirty, as they have no proofreading mechanism. This can lead to frequent and random mutations. But the vast majority of those mutations just kill the virus immediately, Andersen told me. Unlike other RNA viruses, however, coronaviruses do have some capacity to check for errors when they replicate. They have an enzyme that actually corrects mistakes, Denison told me.

It was Denisons lab at Vanderbilt that first confirmed, in experiments on live viruses, the existence of this enzyme, which makes coronaviruses, in a sense, cunning mutators. The viruses can remain stable in a host when there is no selective pressure to change, but rapidly evolve when necessary. Each time they leap into a new species, for example, they are able to hastily transform in order to survive in the new environment, with its new physiology and a new immune system to battle. Once the virus is spreading easily within a species, though, its attitude is, Im happy, Im good, no need to change, Denison said. That seems to be playing out now in humans; as SARS-CoV-2 circles the globe, there are slight variations among its strains, but none of them seem to affect the viruss behavior. This is not a virus that is rapidly adapting. Its like the best car in the Indy 500. Its out in front and there is no obstacle in its path. So there is no benefit to changing that car.

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From Bats to Human Lungs, the Evolution of a Coronavirus - The New Yorker

An Artist Examines Evolution – Discovery Institute

Merion West is an online news source that dubs itself a journal where all perspectives are welcome. They tout the fact that they have been rated by Media Bias/Fact Check as a Least Biased source.

Generally, their articles seem to have deeper analysis than you will find in much of the mainstream media. For example, recent headlines include, The Fraught Relationship Between Religion and Epidemiology, The Critics of Social Justice, from Jonah Goldberg to Jordan Peterson, and Hannah Arendts Concept of Impotent Bigness. They regularly interview newsmakers, and authors often include professors in relevant fields and others well qualified to comment.

Articles are explicitly labeled by viewpoint: left, center, or right. This makes for interesting reading. To date, I havent seen much about evolution and intelligent design on the site, but there is a recent article entitled When We Oversimplify Darwin. I was curious to see what Merion West would say. The article is labeled as representing a View from the Center.

It is too concerned with trying to make peace between all sides. Interestingly, the author, artist Chris Augusta, acknowledges that there is scientific debate over evolutionary theory. Thats a plus. The article links to last years Hoover Institution-sponsored discussion Mathematical Challenges to Darwins Theory of Evolution among Stephen Meyer, David Gelernter, and David Berlinski, led by Peter Robinson, and to a Socrates in the City conversation between Dr. Meyer and Eric Metaxas.

Augusta argues that Darwin was confused about the nature of reality and didnt come to firm conclusions regarding the existence of a designer or a central role for chance. Augusta, whose website includes some weird and spooky Art of Evolution, advocates for paradoxical reality:

Charles Darwin, that greatest of empiricists, bears witness to the raw spectacle of paradoxical nature. He sees clearly manifestations ofdesign,and he sees clearly manifestations ofchance. Reading Darwins letters to Asa Gray reveals a man transfixed by the blinding spectacle of contrary forces. Darwin is a deer in the headlights: He cant move forward; he cant move backward.

I find this conclusion absurd. Darwin clearly derived from his theory a materialistic view of the world. He wrote in his Autobiography, There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws. For Darwin, this had sinister implications. In a poignant Evolution News article, science historian Michael Flannery noted, Writing to William Graham (1839-1911) on July 3, 1881, Darwin saw the march of human progress in blatantly racist terms. Civilization would advance even at the cost of inevitable racial extermination. Darwin wrote:

Lastly I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilisation than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risks the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is. The more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilised races throughout the world.

We may dispute what Darwin felt or thought in the privacy of his study but the bulk of his writings fall clearly into advocating for one perspective: naturalism. Why else would atheist Daniel Dennett have written that Darwinism was a universal acid that eats through just about every traditional concept? Dennett was not wrong. That does not sound too paradoxical to me.

Augusta says poets too grapple with this paradoxical reality and then goes on to liken science to poetry. He offers comfort to those who, unlike Darwin and poets, are intimidated by paradox but gently points out that our insistence on resolving these paradoxes through Christianity or militant atheism la Percy Shelley is childlike. Pardon me, Augusta, I think I might vomit.

Needless to say, poetry is very different from science. It operates by entirely different rules. We dont let poets (or artists) make rules for us; I dont think they were consulted about how to respond to the coronavirus. Poets and artists dont have that kind of power, and its probably a good thing.

As part of his closing, Augusta notes that the universe is better described as creative than created. Really? Actually, lets take a look at that whole paragraph:

This materialistic Darwinism has dominated for more than a century-and-a-half, but its own explanatory power may be waning. Proponents of Intelligent Design insist that the very complexity of life cannot be explained by essentially random mechanistic processes. But Intelligent Design is perhaps a poor choice of words that tends to shift attention away from the thing (or event) observed to some pre-existing designer. You do not have to introduce the notion of an Intelligent Designer to acknowledge the existence of order and pattern in nature. The universe may be apprehended, as it was by Albert Einstein among many others, as embodyingintelligenceinsofar as the human mind can apprehend order and harmony. For Einstein, doing science was nothing less than an attempt to understand this intelligence. Sticking to what we actually experience, the universe is better described ascreativerather thancreated.

I am at a loss. In what way is the universe creative? To be sure, materialists have mounted strained defenses against the evidence of cosmic design. But the multiverse hypothesis is bankrupt truly a fantasy. String theory is a delusional apparition. Stephen Meyers forthcoming The Return of the God Hypothesis makes these things clear.

Augusta seeks to encourage tolerance and agreement. What he has written, though, is a mess. Im baffled to see that Merion West thinks this is centrist.

Photo credit: JJ YingviaUnsplash.

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An Artist Examines Evolution - Discovery Institute

Evolution and the Experts A Liberating Message from Molecular Biologist Doug Axe – Discovery Institute

As molecular biologist Douglas Axe recalls, the Greek philosopher Gorgias (born about 483 BC) spent a lifetime pondering the nature of existence. At last he arrived at a firm conclusion: Nothing exists. In a presentation at the 2020 Dallas Conference on Science & Faith, Dr. Axe used Gorgias to illustrate his point that expertise does not necessarily drive you in the right direction. Sometimes it does the exact opposite. How could that be? Watch now and find out:

The controversy about Darwinian evolution is often framed as a matter of credentials. We must listen to the experts! Please precious experts, tell us what to think!

When Dr. Axe was planning his book, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed, he considered doing as other scientists have done: distill a lot of technical literature down for a lay audience. But he ultimately decided that that was to play into the hands of those atheists and materialists he was arguing against. They would simply tell his lay readers that the readers were in no position to judge even an ultimate question like this the origins of life and must instead docilely confirm the majority or consensus view of people holding PhDs in the correct fields. As Axe says here, I firmly believe you dont need a PhD to decide whether we are cosmic accidents or not.

Axe tells some of his own personal story, which I did not know. As a high school student he dissected frogs in biology class and found that uninspiring. It wasnt until college at U.C. Berkley and grad school at Caltech that he came to appreciate the wonders of life at the molecular level. He realized, This is engineering, remarkable engineering, far beyond anything humans can do.

But he explains why, even without his background as a professional scientist, we all already know what we need to know to decide whether life reflects intelligent purpose. This is an affirming and liberating message.

Looking for more great content in contrast to all the negativity everywhere else in the media and online? We have been releasing videos from Discovery Institutes January event in Dallas. Come back next Wednesday for Stephen Meyer on The Return of the God Hypothesis.

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Evolution and the Experts A Liberating Message from Molecular Biologist Doug Axe - Discovery Institute

FEATURE: COVID19 pandemic is forcing an evolution in wellness Hotel Designs – Hotel Designs

Personal and social hygiene awareness has increased exponentially, with a growing scepticism of what and what is not clean.

Whether we are at our workplace, attending leisure facilities or travelling for business or pleasure, we all now have a heightened awareness of how we interact and will now expect and demand a higher level of service from providers that takes cognisance of the perceived risks as a result of this. Put simply, COVID19 will change the way we work, how we live and how and where we travel.

Image credit: Room to Breathe

Few markets have felt the full force of this pandemic more than the hospitality sector. It has decimated trade, scattered the labour force and threatened the very existence of the supply chain. Travellers, holiday makers and businesspeople alike will now become even more difficult to satisfy and will seek to be given as much reassurance as possible.

A single night stay becomes your biggest issue as each and every night your new customer requires that peace of mind that your room is as safe as possible for them to stay in. Failure to address these new concerns could result in the long-term repeat visitor more likely to go somewhere else next time.

By taking steps to show your commitment to your customers health and wellbeing is now, more than ever, of paramount importance.

Image credit: Room to Breathe

Capturing this feeling of assured safety every time must be seen as the focal point for Customer Satisfaction.

What can be done?

So what can the hospitality sector do to insulate itself from the aftershock of COVID19 and prepare for the inevitable increase in customer demands? What can be done to provide that peace of mind that is desired?

Is carrying out the same cleaning protocols more frequently by an already stretched housekeeping department going to provide the reassurance required? In a word, no.

By taking steps to show your commitment to your customers health and wellbeing is now, more than ever, of paramount importance.

Image credit: Room to Breathe

A cleaner solution

A new approach to a new problem must be the way forward. It needs to address the worries and concerns of your customers but must, just as importantly, be cost effective. Imagine the cost of a deep clean between every guest. This is neither practical nor affordable.

This is where Room to Breathe comes into its own. By providing a room that can demonstrate continuous and permanent self-cleaning provision, you can provide customers with an unrivalled level of service and commitment to their needs and concerns.

Room to Breathe also kills 99.99 per cent of viruses and bacteria, including coronaviruses.

Originally developed to provide safe, clean accommodation for the millions of travellers who have a hypersensitivity to various toxins, pathogens and allergens, Room to Breathe also kills 99.99 per cent of viruses and bacteria, including coronaviruses (incl. influenza, SARS, MERS).

Step One deep clean

An initial industrial air purge followed by a combination of steam cleaning above 40, ultra-low-penetration air (UPLA) vacuuming and the application of our unique decontamination fluid which is deadly to pathogens (but is safe to all higher living organisms) is fogged into the area ensuring every surface coated.

Additionally, by using innovative UV technology we can rid mattresses, pillows and soft furnishings of undesirable micro-organisms within seconds.

Image credit: Room to Breathe

Step Two Anti-microbial coating

Once the area has been decontaminated, our antimicrobial coating BioTouch, will be is applied. The BioTouch formula bonds to a clean surface and when viruses and bacteria land on the protected surface, the cellular structure is ruptured (not poisoned) and becomes defunct.

The only way BioTouch can be removed is by it being chipped off. Where there is a risk of this, on door handles, light switches for example, we can easily reapply to maintain the coatings efficiency.

Step three Bedding and soft furnishings

Using our own unique formula, Protextsolution provides a layer of invisible protection which permanently interrupts the life cycle of dust mites and bed bugs.

Our method avoids the use of toxins so whilst lethal to bugs and mites does not pose a risk to the client.This is also applied to all fabrics and soft furnishings.

Step Four continuous air sanification.

Installing filterless air sanifiers provides the final level of protection. Using technology originally developed by NASA, our sanifiers seek out contaminants and pathogens within the air and on surfaces and neutralise them.

By applying this four step process, we not only eradicate 99.99 per cent of viruses and bacteria, we also provide a continuous level of protection in between our Deep Clean processes.

Certification

On completion certification is provided and displayed either outside or within the room to provide that peace of mind to Customers and employees alike.

A Room Information Pack is provided for guests to simply explain the RTB system, providing that peace of mind. In order to maintain the certification, Steps One and Two are carried out every four months in accordance with our terms and conditions.

On-site training is also provided to Housekeeping staff in order to ensure the efficacy of the RTB system is maintained. This is no more onerous to staff and in fact will simplify their cleaning protocols.

Cost

Based on an occupancy of 72 per cent, our cost model demonstrates that a ROI of 100 per centcan be achieved in the first year with a surcharge of just 15 per night per room.

We truly believe Room to Breathe is the next step in the evolution of the hospitality market. Our processes not only provide protection from unseen pathogens but are also proven to improve cognitive function, enable better quality of sleep and promote overall wellbeing.

So whether you are wanting ensure the highest level of protection for your customers or are looking to capture the untapped market for those travellers with intolerances or allergies then Room to Breathe could well be the answer.

Room to Breathe is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips byclicking here.

Main image credit: Room to Breathe

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FEATURE: COVID19 pandemic is forcing an evolution in wellness Hotel Designs - Hotel Designs

Evolution: Why females live longer | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology – DW (English)

On average, women live six to eight years longer than men. At least if they are treated well. But we have known that for quite some time.

What we didn't know until now is that the same is true for many wild animals. This is the conclusion reached by an international team of researchers, including Biologists from the University of Bath, who investigated the lifespans of 101 different animal species. The studywas published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the animal kingdom, the difference in life expectancy among males and females is even greater than in humans. For 60% of the animal species studied, females live on average 18% longer than their male conspecifics. The difference between men and women is nearly 8%.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),this is because women have a biological advantage over men when it comes to health and thus life expectancy.

X-chromosome, estrogen and premature death

Women have two X chromosomes, while men have only one (they have a Y chromosome instead).

On the X chromosomes some immune-relevant genes are encoded. Among them are genes that recognise certain pathogens and can thus set the corresponding immune response in motion. The hormone estrogen, which women naturally have more of than men, also has a protective function.

Scientists suspect that biology holds its protective hand in a very similar way over the female animal world.

No risk, no fun, he said

These biological advantages might seem like blatant injustice, but they are not the only reason why women live longer. According to the WHO, this is also due to the fact that women tend to be less willing to take risks.

In other words, women generally smoke and drink less and come up with stupid ideas less often. As I said less often.

Read more:Psychology: A happy partner is the elixir of longer life

Although the shorter lifespan of male animals cannot be explained by excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption, scientists suspect sex-specific behavior as one of the reasons.

The researchers found that female lions live at least twice as long as males. "Female lions live together in a pack in which sisters, mothers and daughters hunt together and care for each other. Adult male lions, on the other hand, often live alone or with their brothers and therefore do not have the same support network," says one of the study's authors, Tams Szkely from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.

Longer life behind bars?

The researchers also suspect that it is beneficial to female longevity if the male shows himself to be the most committed father possible. This could make up for the health costs associated with birth and raising the offspring.

Since much is still speculation, more data is needed to establish the real reasons for the difference in life expectancy.

The next step will be to examine the lifespans of animals living in captivity in order to compare it with that of their wild counterparts.

It remains to be seen whether all-inclusive care means that zoo animals live longer or whether the boredom of captivity is more likely to make them depressed and kill them prematurely.

Read more:Insects are dying and nobody knows how fast

The sword-billed hummingbirds beak is longer than its body. It has the longest beak of all known hummingbird species. And it needs it! One of the bird's main sources of food is nectar, which it drinks from very long, slender hanging flower crowns. With its beak wide open, it can also catch insects.

Two star-like shapes on its snout make the star-nosed mole a very well-equipped hunter. The appendages around its nostrils a total of 22 fleshy tentacles are sensory organs. With these it can examine 13 potential prey animals per second. We can't even look that fast!

An egg-laying mammal with a beavers tail and a ducks beak. What sounds like a fantasy creature actually exists in Australia. The platypus boasts a large, flexible beak with a leather-like surface. A built-in snorkel is also included: its nostrils are on top. This allows the animal to dive underwater and breathe at the same time.

Don't worry, as scary as it may appear, this vampire is vegetarian. The tufted deer prefers to graze at dusk. If it senses danger, it does something unusual: it barks. Deer do this to warn each other. While fleeing, they erect their white tail an escape-signal among tufted deer.

This bird may look like a character from a comic, but the shoebill actually walks among us in the swamps of central tropical Africa. It often stands motionless in the water and looks downward. When it detects prey, it strikes at lightning speed. With the hook at the top of its beak, it grabs its prey. Even large lungfishes are swallowed up whole.

With a body length of up to 10 meters, the basking shark is the second-largest fish in the world, after the whale shark. Despite its monstrous size, it's anything but bloodthirsty; basking sharks eat just one thing: plankton. They swim with their mouths wide open to catch and filter food. Water that enters its mouth with the plankton is filtered out through its gills 1800 tons of water per hour.

Gavials live in Southeast Asia. In contrast to the crocodile, gavials don't eat zebras or deer, but fish. Its snout is therefore long, narrow and home to very many teeth. Perfect for catching fish!

The sucking trunk of the hummingbird hawk-moth is not only very long, it's also extremely precise. The butterfly can suck nectar from up to 100 flowers per minute. While doing so, the moth hovers in front of the flower. With its long trunk, the hummingbird hawk-moth can also reach the nectar of flowers with particularly long calyxes out of reach for others.

The spoonbill is equipped with the perfect tool. No matter fish, frog or other water-dweller, nothing escapes this beak. In searching for food. the spoonbill usually goes into shallow water. However, sometimes it also wanders the coast. In the mud flats, it swings its head back and forth, filtering food from the shallow water.

Dugongs feed on seaweed. They prefer the part of the plants that lay underground. And they have developed a special technique for this: this manatee can dig. It digs out the plant with its upper lip, then the roots are pulled out of the ground. It shakes off the dirt and then sucks the plant into its mouth.

Author: Liyang Zhao

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Evolution: Why females live longer | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology - DW (English)

Evolutionary adaptation helped cave bears hibernate, but also may have caused their extinction – UB News Center

BUFFALO, N. Y. A study published in Science Advances on April 1 reveals a new hypothesis that may explain why European cave bears went extinct during past climate change periods. The research was motivated by controversy in the scientific literature as to what the animal (Ursus spelaeus) ate and how that affected their demise.

The new hypothesis emerged, in part, from computational analysis and computer biting simulations conducted in the laboratory of Jack Tseng, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

Tseng is a co-author on the paper with corresponding authors Borja Figueirido, PhD, and Alejandro Prez-Ramos, PhD, first author, both of the Departamento de Ecologia y Geologia of the Universidad de Malaga, Spain.

Dietary dilemma

Cave bears were a species of bear (Ursus spelaeus) that lived in Europe and Asia that went extinct about 24,000 years ago. According to Figueirido, researchers have proposed different diets for cave bears, ranging from pure herbivory to carnivory or even scavenging.

Knowing the feeding behaviour of the cave bear is not a trivial aspect, he said. Feeding behaviour is intimately related to its decline and extinction.

He noted that two main hypotheses, not necessarily exclusive, have been proposed to explain cave bear extinction: a human-driven decline, either by competition for resources or by direct hunting; or a substantial demise in population sizes as a result of the climatic cooling that occurred during the late Pleistocene which caused vegetation to wane.

Previous research shows that cave bears were primarily herbivorous at least from 100,000 to 20,000 years ago. But even during the cooling periods, when vegetation productivity waned, these bears didnt change their diets. The researchers propose that this dietary inflexibility, combined with competition for cave shelters by humans, is what led to their extinction.

To find out if there were biomechanical explanations behind their inflexible diets, meaning that the bears werent physically capable of adjusting their diets effectively during times of limited vegetation resources, the researchers analyzed three-dimensional computer simulations of different feeding scenarios.

Critical sinuses

They were especially interested in the sinuses of the bears because large paranasal sinuses allow for greater metabolic control, critical to survival during hibernation.

Our study proposes that climate cooling probably forced the selection of highly developed sinuses, which in turn led to the appearance of the characteristic domed skull of the cave bear lineage, said Alejandro Prez-Ramos.

Tseng explained that when the sinus system expands, the act of chewing may cause more or less strain on the skull. In both humans and bears, the sinus system lightens the weight of the face, reducing the amount of bone tissue needed to grow the skull.

Mechanically speaking, being thickheaded may not be a bad thing because more bone means more structural strength, he said. However, our findings support the interpretation that requirements for sinus system function in cave bears necessitated a trade-off between sinus development and skull strength.

Tseng and Prez-Ramos, who spent three months at UB to learn the procedure, used a biomechanical simulation methodology to estimate the biting stresses and strains in different bear species and different models of them. The bear skull specimens used were from several European institutions, where CT scans had been done on them, as well as the scientific CT repository, also known as the digital morphology library, at the University of Texas at Austin.

They found that the development of paranasal sinuses in cave bears caused the cranial dome to expand upward and backward from the forehead, changing the geometry of the bears skull.

This geometrical change generated a mechanically suboptimal cranial shape, with a very low efficiency to dissipate the stress along the skull, particularly when biting with the canines or carnassials, the teeth most often used by predatory mammals, saidPrez-Ramos.

When the sinus system expands, Tseng explained, it results in bone reduction relative to the size of the skulland therefore less structural support to resist the physical forces that chewing generates. Although other mammals with expanded sinuses, such as hyenas, appear to have evolutionarily modified their skull shape to effectively deal with decreased structural support, cave bear skulls showed compromised biomechanical capability compared to living bear species.

Through the use of new techniques and virtual methods, such as biomechanical simulations across each tooth and the comparative internal anatomical study of the paranasal sinuses, we propose that large sinuses were probably selected in cave bears in order to be able to hibernate for longer periods with very low metabolic costs, said Prez-Ramos.

Ultimately, though, that trade-off may have resulted in the extinction of the species, a finding that also has relevance to humans, Tseng said.

Being able to stay alive during the coldest periods would have been equally important to human and bear alike, he said. The success or demise of prehistoric megafauna, such as cave bears, provide crucial clues as to how humans may have out-competed and out-survived other large mammals during a critical time for the evolution of our own species.

Funding for this project was provided by theSpanish Ministryof Economy and Competitivenessgrants CGL2012-37866,CGL2015-68300P, andBES-2013-065469. The Computational Cell Biology, Anatomy, and Pathology GraduateProgram in the Jacobs School provided logistical support for Alejandro Prez-Ramos residence in Tsengs laboratory.

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Evolutionary adaptation helped cave bears hibernate, but also may have caused their extinction - UB News Center

How cannabis and humans evolved together – Leafly

Janet BurnsMarch 30, 2020

Cannabis and humans co-evolved over thousands of years, each helping the other thrive and expand across the planet. (Jesse Milns/Leafly)

For humans,like most species, surviving life on Earth isnt exactly easy. But thankfully were not in it alone.

For tens of thousands of years, Homo sapiens has been developing mutually beneficial relationships with other species, from dogs and cats to bacteria and breadfruit. These interactions have allowed our different life forms to evolve and flourish together. These relationships are examples ofmutualistic coevolution, which happens when multiple species beneficially affect each others progress over time.

Theyre also a key part of what Dr. Sunil K. Aggarwal calls humankinds evolutionary garden. Aggarwal is a physician, medical geographer, and co-founder of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science (AIMS) Institute in Seattle. In 2013, he published one of the foundational articles on the subject, Tis in our nature: taking the human-cannabis relationship seriously in health science and public policy, in the medical journalFrontiers in Psychiatry.

The garden he describes is acollection of plants, fungi, and animal secretions that people have cultivated since prehistory, and carried around the world, because of their usefulness for human health and survival, whether as food, medicine, clothing, or other vital supplies.

Most are still embraced today, from honey and grains to caffeine and aspirin. In the past century, however, some cultures have decided its a good idea to cordon off certain areas of that garden, despite a long evolutionary historyand current scientific datasuggesting otherwise.

These blacklisted species include plants and fungi that humans have carefully administered for millennia to treat some of our worst sicknesses and pain, of both body and mind: distilled opium plants for physical agony, for example, or psilocybin tea for processing some of lifes most difficult moments.

Many are powerful, and can even be dangerous (in classic or modern forms) without supervision and guidance. Some have multiple uses, but never caught on in certain cultures.

According to Aggarwal, however, and to a growing number of experts on history and biology, one forbidden species stands out as our biggest loss, and for likely being the single most useful plant that humans have ever gotten to knowand which may even have helped us become more human.

That plant, of course, is cannabis.

Current research indicates that humans have been cultivating cannabis for tens of thousands of years, but aspects of our biology suggest that the relationship reaches back much further.

As a medical geographer, Aggarwal has studied the path of numerous natural medicines in different cultures and around the globe, based on anthropological and archaeological evidence.

Cannabis is one of the oldest medicines on record, he says. Its been evolving across the planet for tens of millions of years, stemming from its sturdy ancestors in Central Asia. In fact, early cannabis seems to trace back to when the worlds tallest mountain range, the Himalayas, were forming.

Sixty million years ago, those mountains were formed by the Indian subcontinent hitting the Asian plate, Aggarwal explained in a phone interview. All life there had to adapt or die.

It created a unique opportunity for this ancestral plant, which appeared 40 to 50 million years ago, to become very active in production, he said. There was less oxygen, and increased UV radiation, so the plant had to develop quite a bit of hardiness.

In the millions of years since, cannabis has shown a remarkable ability to survive in a wide variety of climates, from scrub-like Cannabis ruderalis to bush-like Cannabis indica and tall-growing Cannabis sativa and their hybrids, which produce most of our cannabis flower and low-THC hemp today.

Cannabis also appears to have been chemically compatible with the brains of animals, including humans, for much of that time.

In response to its new, harsher environs near the Himalayas, Aggarwal said, the plant seemingly began to produce a wide range of terpenes and cannabinoid chemicals, which the human bodywith its balance-keeping endocannabinoid system, which relies on cannabinoid neuroreceptors throughout the body, and can be found in all vertebrate speciesis especially suited to process.

The endocannabinoid system is key to our overall health and wellness because it has a crucial role in homeostasis, the regulation of our major biological functions. Our bodies are constantly working to maintain a narrow operative balance, and cannabinoid compounds can trigger the endocannabinoid system to regain this important equilibrium throughout the body as needed.

Despite their name, cannabinoid chemicals arent unique to cannabis. The compound type CBG, from which all phytocannabinoid compounds are derived, is found in many other plants, like echinacea, turmeric, and kava, to name a few.

But cannabis robustly produces tons of them, Aggarwal said. As a result, people living near the Tibetan Plateau domesticated the plant early on and found a great number of uses. That includes the neurological side, which is very interesting, as well as good old nutrition, and fibers for cordage.

It affects our neurological circuits and has a very important role in protecting the brain from injury, and promoting feelings of relaxation, Aggarwal added. Physical and psychological trauma can disturb the brain, and sub-optimize it. The endocannabinoid system, and phytocannabinoids if need be, can set the brain on the path toward regeneration.

In short, Aggarwal said, this cannabis ancestor happened to make these compounds that bind to receptors in the human system which tap into an even older evolutionarily evolved biological system, which goes back 600 million years: a magnitude older in terms of stages of the formation of life.

Specifically, those receptor typesknown as CB1 and CB2 todaytrace back to when multicellular organisms were becoming multicellular and were trying to figure out how to send communication and modulate action.

In biogenetic mapping, when you look at different species and map how old they are, you find cannabinoid receptors going back, and through today. In Homo sapiens, its a really integrated system for cell communication.

On the cellular level, cannabinoids are also particularly useful for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, throughout the body as well as the brain. These aspects help the body to maintain optimal performance across its systems from the intercellular level on up, like other natural supplements that ease the way for the body to do its job.

In terms of their antioxidant properties and neuroprotective properties, cannabinoids are certainly not the only game in town, Aggarwal said. But theyre pretty high up there.

Aside from archaeological and biological evidence, humankinds relationship with cannabis has been documented for thousands of years in printed language, and in oral histories that reach back even further.

As Aggarwal wrote in 2013, Cannabiss very name belies its longstanding relationship with humanity, as it was pragmatically given the species name Sativa in 1542 by German physician-botanist Leonhart Fuchs, meaning cultivated or useful in Latin.

Researcher Rob Clarke, whos written or co-authored numerous texts on cannabis history and biology, told Leafly that, simply put, cannabis seems to be one of the most useful plant that humans have ever come across. Plenty of plants are used for one purpose, and I can name a number of plants that are used for two purposes, he said. But I cant think of another one thats used for three.

For example, Palms provide us with food, and with fibers for clothing or shelter; bamboo is the same, he said. Other members of the garden provide us with both food and drugs, such as numerous fruits, roots, and grains that people have long eaten but also fermented into alcohol,like cannabis evolutionary cousin hops.

But cannabis has all three, Clarke said: Food, fiber, and drugs. Meaning that, from just one kind of crop, humans can get an important source of protein, fiber for building and crafting, and medical or cultural tools for our minds and bodies.

On a biological level, stimulating our endocannabinoid system is one part of the bodys toolkit for social navigation and balance. Psychological research has shown, in fact, that when you boost the bodys endocannabinoid system, people feel the emotional impacts of rejection less, Aggarwal said. Acetaminophen can do that, too. Its like a pinball game.

Martin Lee, co-founder and director of Project CBD and the author of several books on cannabis, explained in an interview with Leafly that plants, like humans, have ways of dealing with stressors, and expressing that stress physically. Cannabis plants do it through chemical signals, odors, things like that, said Lee. Plants under stressif theyre being eaten by insects or whateverhave evolved to communicate with their environment to deal with those stressors.

They might have a smell that attracts a predator of the thing attacking the plant, or that will keep potential predators away. And it so happens that these same smells, the same molecules that [cannabis] uses to deal with stress, are very helpful to the human brain in dealing with stress.

In fact, this part of the human-cannabis relationship may explain a lot about the plants history and status in the US, and in other Euro-colonized zones around the world, according to Aggarwal and his peers.

By the early 1600s, the British empire and others in Europe were all on board for hemp as a valuable industrial commodity. In the ensuing centuries, they and their colonies would increasingly embrace cannabis medicine, too (leading to Eli Lillys early 20th-century cannabis tonics, for example, and the U.S. governments late 20th-century patents on cannabis as an anti-oxidant and neuroprotectantbut hang onto that thought for now).

During the same timeframe, the European slave trade was booming, with hemp among the top crops that millions of trafficked and enslaved people of African, Central and South American, and North American Indigenous origin were being forced to grow. In the 1600s, Aggarwal said, cannabis as a cultural and spiritual drug probably first appeared in what is now the US among these enslaved populations.

By the 1920s, the socially and emotionally helpful plant had been included in any number of reputable Western pharmacopeia, and was arriving state-side in refrigerated bargeshence the name reefer, Aggarwal said, becoming an integral part of the fabric of the US jazz scene.By that time, however, most US states and municipalities had also chosen to outlaw the plant despite its medical history here. In 1930, the US deemed the plant federally illegal.

In decades since, however, its continued to offer social relief to many of our countrys most oppressed and weighed-upon populations, Aggarwal said. Other researchers have said it also provided some of our most exploited groups with a budding source of financial independence, which may tie directly to todays underground market.

It even seems possible that cannabis particularly helped kickstart our evolution toward being the big-brained, culture-prone critical thinkers we are today. This could have occurred for practical, nutritional, or psychoactive reasons, or (like the plant itself) as a mixture.

In terms of humans neurological development and nutrition, Lee explained, Agriculture is really a turning point as the beginning of hoarding and carbohydrate farming, which was different from earlier diets. He continued, Its possible that cannabis is the first agricultural plant, and its certainly one of the very, very early ones. And cannabis is unique because its so versatile.

Today, Lee noted, humans are finding all kinds of new ways to use it (whether in food, medicine, industrial or artisanal fabrics, hempcrete, fuel, or many other forms), as well as better ways to appreciate its psychoactive effects. But as obvious as its usefulness in human lives and history may be, theres one thing we may never know about cannabis: how the first humans got high.

We can only speculate how people first discovered cannabis psychoactive aspects, Lee reflected. Its hard to imagine it would have come through eating it but, for various reasons, you can imagine they inhaled smoke accidentally.

Janet Burns is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn who finds drugs, tech, labor, and culture extremely interesting, among other things. She also hosts the cannabis news and conversation podcast The Toke.

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How cannabis and humans evolved together - Leafly

Coronavirus, Intelligent Design, and Evolution – Discovery Institute

Many people have been wondering about the relevance of intelligent design (ID) or evolution to the new coronavirus reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. What follows is my view as a molecular biologist.

The new virus goes by several names. It was initially called 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (with n standing for new). Since its DNA sequence is similar to that of the coronavirus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses renamed it SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020. The disease caused by the virus has been called COVID-19 (with d standing for disease).

There are other coronaviruses (including MERS-CoV, the virus that caused the 2012 epidemic of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). To avoid confusion, I will refer to the latest coronavirus by its technical name, SARS-CoV-2.

Some people have maintained that SARS-CoV-2 is a product of human design. According to a February New York Post article, it may have escaped from a microbiology laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But I have seen no scientific evidence to support this claim.

On March 17, 2020, an analysis of DNA from several different coronaviruses was published in Nature Medicine. The authors concluded, Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.

Jonathan Bartlett, who has studied the logic of design inferences in depth, subsequently argued that the scientists had ruled out only one design hypothesis, so design was still theoretically possible. But Bartlett did not maintain that SARS-CoV-2 is a product of human design.

Could SARS-CoV-2 have evolved from another coronavirus by mutation and natural selection? I dont see why not, though there is only indirect evidence (from DNA sequences) to support the idea. If it had happened, however, it would not provide support for Darwinian evolution.

First, viruses are not living organisms: They are just pieces of DNA or RNA enclosed in a protein coat. They do not carry out metabolism (the chemical processes that are essential for life), and they do not reproduce themselves (only living cells or skilled genetic engineers can make copies of them). Second, even if viruses were considered living things, the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 from another coronavirus would be akin to microevolution minor changes within existing biological species. (Species are not even defined the same way in viruses as they are in living organisms.)

But Darwin did not write a book titled How Existing Species Change Over Time. He wrote a book titled The Origin of Species. In other words, Darwin attempted to explain macroevolution the origin of new species, organs, and body plans.

What, then, is the relevance of ID or evolution to SARS-CoV-2? As we have seen, their relevance to the origin of the coronavirus is unclear. But what about their relevance to combating the disease, COVID-19? According to Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky (who distinguished between microevolution and macroevolution in the 1930s), nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. In 2003, Texas Tech University professor Michael Dini wrote:

The central, unifying principle of biology is the theory of evolution. How can someone who does not accept the most important theory in biology expect to properly practice in a field [medicine] that is so heavily based on biology?

Yet the measures being taken against the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic owe nothing to evolutionary theory. The use of quarantine to block the spread of disease began in the fourteenth century. In the 1790s, Edward Jenner vaccinated people to protect them from smallpox. In 1847, Hungarian obstetrician Ignc Semmelweis demonstrated that proper hand washing lowers mortality from infectious disease. The administration of oxygen to patients with labored breathing was first reported in the years just following the publication of The Origin of Species, but the practice was based on physiological and clinical considerations, not evolution. And if any treatments are found to cure COVID-19 or lessen its effects, they will come from the intelligently designed efforts of virologists, biochemists, and clinicians not evolutionary biologists.

Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian, via Peterson Air Force Base.

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Coronavirus, Intelligent Design, and Evolution - Discovery Institute

PHOTO GALLERY: 7-Eleven Brings Evolution Store to the Big Apple – CSNews Online

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NEW YORK 7-Eleven Inc. openedits latest Evolution Store in a city known for its fast-paced lifestyles and ever-evolving landscape of innovation: the Big Apple.

Evolution Storesare real-time, real-life, experiential testing grounds where customers can try and buy the retailer's latest innovations in revolutionary new store formats. They are alsothe first 7-Eleven stores to integrate restaurant concepts into the store design.

TheNew York City 7-Eleven Evolution Store, located at 88 Greenwich St. in Manhattan, features Raise the Roost Chicken & Biscuits, a new Southern-inspired quick-serve concept that serves up made-from-scratch, hand-breaded fried chicken tenders.

Billed as "Chicken Worth Crossing the Road For," Raise the Roost offers a simple menu:made-from-scratch, hand-breaded fried chicken tenders with signature sauces; bone-in and boneless wings;signature chicken sandwiches;and breakfast sandwiches. The in-store proprietary restaurant offers both made-to-order and grab-and-go options.

"On-the-go customers are looking for high-quality, differentiated food options and 7-Eleven continues to explore new concepts that meet that demand," said 7-Eleven President and CEOJoseph DePinto. "Raise the Roost offers craveable food and generous portions at prices below what you'll find at most fried chicken establishments."

In addition to the Southern-inspired cuisine, this Evolution Store also offers:

7-Eleven held a grand opening forits NYC Evolution Store from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 12. As part of the celebration, the retailer featured:

7-Eleven's NYC Evolution Store is the third of its kind. The retailer opened its first Evolution Store inDallas last year, followed by the second in Washington D.C., at 504 KSt. A San Diegostore at 3504 El Cajon Blvd. will open in the coming weeks.

"Today's customers expect even more than they did just a year ago when 7-Eleven opened its first Evolution Store inDallas," saidChris Tanco, 7-Eleven's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Consumer feedback from that original store and the neighborhoods these new stores will serve helped our store development team refine and design this next generation of the 7-Eleven shopping experience. We have raised the bar for convenience and invite everyone to come experience it for themselves."

Based in Irving, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 70,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 inNorth America.

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PHOTO GALLERY: 7-Eleven Brings Evolution Store to the Big Apple - CSNews Online

Special Operations: Evolution In Action – Strategy Page

April 2, 2020: U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has ordered the disbanding of the five CRF (Crisis Response Force) companies. These units were established after September 11, 2001 and were based on a small units Special Forces Group commanders had already created for emergency situations that involved classical commando type skills. This included Direct Action which often involved hostage rescue or difficult raids or any operation that would involve combat situations where success was very important but difficult to achieve. The CRF companies were small, under a hundred men, and were heavily used for about a decade. But after American troops left Iraq in 2011 the war on terror, while not over, saw less demand for the skills that the CRF operators had in abundance. Acquiring those skills was time consuming and expensive. CRF members had to attend a number of special courses and excel in all of them. At the same time after 2011 counter-terrorism technology and tactics changed. There was more use of SOCOM operators for collecting intelligence and letting a missile armed UAV take care of the direct action. The few CRF type missions were easily taken care of by the two elite direct action units; Delta Force and SEAL Team 6. These included the raids that killed Osama bin Laden and ISIL leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Same with hostage rescue and unexpected threats to embassies, where security had been improved since 2001 and other types of emergencies that did not occur as much anymore. As a result the several hundred CRF personnel will be used to fill key vacancies in Special Forces units.

SOCOM is now concentrating more on traditional (pre-2001) functions which includes training troops of allied nations that are in desperate need of improving their ground forces. That was one task SOCOM has been dealing with since the beginning and before that. One of the World War II organizations SOCOM evolved from was OSS (Office of Special Services) which, among other things, provided needed training and support for resistance units in enemy (German and Japanese) territory. Many countries are still threatened by Islamic terrorists, drug gangs and Chinese aggression and want to quickly upgrade their ability to deal with this. SOCOM has always had the ability to do that and the demand is stronger than ever.

SOCOM has greatly expanded since 2001 and evolved considerably. After 2001 SOCOM personnel strength has increased from 42,000 to 67,000. Budget went from $3.1 billion to nearly twelve billion dollars a year with plans to increase that to $16 billion. SOCOM personnel were 1.9 percent of Department of Defense personnel in 2001 and are now nearly three percent. But when you factor in the additional support (and personnel involved) SOCOM is getting the use of over five percent of Department of Defense personnel. Spending on SOCOM is actually higher if you take into account for additional spending on American special operations not part of the SOCOM budget. This non-SOCOM spending on SOCOM operations varies but in some years goes as high as $8 billion a year. The reason for this is that other services were always obliged to provide SOCOM with things like supplies, transportation, artillery and air support when SOCOM is carrying out a mission that aids the regular forces, or simply because SOCOM needs the extra help to get the job done.

One of the more telling statistics is the average number of SOCOM deployed on operations. In 2001 (before September 11) is was 2,900. By 2014 it was 7,200. So while overall SOCOM personnel have increased 48 percent the number of operators overseas has gone up three times as much. This has made it more difficult to keep the fighters (operators) in uniform since the more frequent trips to combat zones makes married life difficult and increases the likelihood of stress related problems. At the same time the greater number of SOCOM operators out there in combat means SOCOM more frequently must call on non-SOCOM units for support. While SOCOM does have its own support troops, SOCOM cannot afford to maintain such support forces for the high intensity of operations in wartime. Since 2001 the fighting has been the sort that SOCOM does best at and that is why SOCOM is so much in demand and non-SOCOM army, air force, navy and marine units are willing to help out. This is often because the supporting organization called on SOCOM to provide specialized troops to deal with a local situation. Thus while SOCOM strength has increased the need for the kind of people the CRFs had is even greater. So is the need to provide SOCOM operators with more dwell time at home with families or just away from a combat zone. While back in their American home bases the SOCOM personnel also have the opportunity to acquire new skills and help train new operators. It is also important to keep teams (the twelve man ODAs or A-Teams) together and all this is easier to achieve it you dont have chronic personnel shortages.

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Special Operations: Evolution In Action - Strategy Page

The 30 Stages Of Pearl Jam’s Evolution – Kerrang!

For three decades Pearl Jam have been ripping up the rock rulebook, doing things entirely on their own terms and inspiring a lifetime of love among their global legion of devotees. Following new album Gigaton, this is the story, in 30 easy pieces, of how and why they remain a bandapart

1. Restless In Seattle

When it comes to the grand arc of the Pearl Jam narrative, its essential to start not so much at their beginning but, rather, earlier. Guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Aments time with Green River and Mother Love Bone, plus Matt Camerons seminal work in Soundgarden, sowed the seeds that would help Americas rain-swept Pacific Northwest become one of the most fertile artistic breeding grounds in rockhistory.

2. Everybody Loves Our Town

As reductive as it is to view Pearl Jams legacy through the prism of grunge, its also unavoidable. While the superlative contributions of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains could never be overstated, as far as grunges mainstream crossover was initially concerned, the scene had two principal avatars: Nirvana and Pearl Jam. With the huge success of 1991s Nevermind and Ten respectively, the Seattleites all but razed the memory of of 80s hair metal. In Pearl Jams case in particular, songs like Alive, Black and Jeremy introduced a lyrical sensitivity to the charts that was the antithesis of the preening, misogynistic music that had dominated the decade prior. The sales of these records affected not only music, but also culture. Vocalist Eddie Vedder was, after all, once offered a spot in a Calvin Klein underwear ad. The widely-recycled history of grunge now stands as a macram of myth, misconceptions and, occasionally, the truth. Whats undeniable, however, is that Pearl Jam affected rocks trajectory to a degree that few bands have ever before. Orsince.

3. Fan The Flames

In the day and age of Twitter, Instagram, TikTok et al, the very notion of a fan club seems like some quaint relic from a bygone era. But not Pearl Jams. From the very beginning, they built something more akin to a living, breathing community than a faceless postal service. Launched in 1991, over the years the Ten Club has delivered exclusive vinyl 7-inches, pre-sale access to tours, special T-shirts and even its own magazine,Deep.

4. In My Family Tree

It is entirely possible to argue that no single band has ever spawned so many other critically acclaimed, successful and outright legendary other groups. Starting with their exquisite Chris Cornell collaboration Temple Of The Dog which was recorded concurrently with Ten Pearl Jam members extracurricular activities include Mike McCreadys Mad Season, Stone Gossards Brad, and Jeff Aments RNDM. Thats not to mention various solo releases, including two Eddie Vedder outings and Matt Camerons Cavedwellerproject.

5. Jeremy Controversy

Over the course of their career, Pearl Jam have, both intentionally and unintentionally, become embroiled in controversy. One of the first major instances of the latter was the video for Jeremy, which brought the song based on the true story of Jeremy Wade Delle, a student, who died by suicide in front of his class to life. Unfortunately, many misinterpreted the final frames of the video. I think Pearl Jam was very, very upset that this piece about an alienated kid who killed himself was taken to be this glorified piece about a guy who shoots his classmates, the videos director Mark Pellington told the New Yorker. It remains one of the most famous and powerful videosever.

6. Hitting It Off

Pearl Jam must surely be one of precious few bands to have actively avoided making hits. First, they refused to bow to substantial label pressure to release Tens emotional ballad Black as a single. Likewise, while Better Man is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest songs in their catalogue, it was actually cut from the tracklist of their second album. Thats a hit! Brendan OBrien recalled saying in the studio, as detailed in Pearl Jams PJ20 anniversary book. They all just looked straight down and the whole room was deflated. I knew Id said the wrong thing. The song eventually appeared on 1994sVitalogy.

7. Second To None

Following the jaw-dropping success of Ten, and with the world suffering from an incurable case of grunge fever, all eyes were on Pearl Jam when it came to their highly-anticipated second album Vs. in October 1993. The reviews were suitably ecstatic Kerrang! proclaiming, Pearl Jam have changed forever the way that rock music can be played yet the question lingered: how could they get any bigger? Simple. Vs. set a new record, selling an astounding 950,378 copies in just five days in the U.S. alone.

8. Press Pause

In 2020, its not uncommon for many of the worlds biggest artists to abstain from doing interviews. Pearl Jam helped blaze this trail. I dont want to be a star, its not worth it, an already fame-fatigued Eddie Vedder told Kerrang! in 1993. I personally think that the less you know about a musician, the better. All that you need is the music. And so it was that Pearl Jam largely stepped back from promoting Vs.. Its often cited that they deliberately sabotaged themselves by doing so, but that is to miss the point entirely. If you hear that none of us in the band are doing interviews, itll just be because were trying to keep a little bit of control on this, Eddie argued, not unreasonably. [Its] a little bit of musicpreservation.

9. Single Video Theory

Part of the bands new anti-promotion approach involved the incredibly bold move to stop making music videos. In the day and age of MTVs global hegemony, this was an unprecedented move. We didnt make a conscious, Were not ever going to do videos again decision, Stone Gossard told Kerrang! years later. It was more a case of every time we had the opportunity to do a video, we all looked at each other and said, Do we want to do a video? Nooooo, I dont think so. True to their word, the band didnt release another music video until 1998s excellent animated clip for Do TheEvolution.

10. Given To Climb

Pearl Jams reputation as a phenomenal live band was initially predicated not only on their prodigious playing, but also on spectacle. Eddie often took his life into his own hands by scaling the most perilously high points of venues/festival scaffolding and swinging or hanging from them. Some people might say that I have a death wish, Eddie told K! around the time. Thats wrong. I have a total lifewish.

11. Brain Of J(eff)

Alongside Iron Maiden and Tool, Pearl Jam have been one of the foremost bands to produce innovative album artwork. In 1996, their fourth album No Codes physical package boasted a collage of 144 interlocking polaroid pictures which, when unfolded and observed from a distance, revealed an eye. Its also crucial to highlight Jeff Aments contribution to this side of the band. Not only did he create their stick man logo and take the photograph of the angora goat on the cover of Vs., working with his brother Barry, plus Coby Schultz and Brad Klausen, they have created hundreds of original (highly collectible) tour posters for individual Pearl Jam shows.

12. Why Go Home?

One of the pillars upon which Pearl Jams legend is built is their preservation of the sanctity of the live experience. Shows often gallop past the three-hour, 30-song mark and at Mansfield, Massachusetts on July 11, 2003, Pearl Jam delivered a 45-song performance, which included a full acoustic set. Weve done it all backwards, joked Jeff to K! in 2018. When we were 25 years old it would have been great to have 45 songs to play And here we are in our 50s, and just trying to stay upright is aprocess.

13. Riot Activism

For Pearl Jam, activism and music have often been inseparable. Eddie Vedder scrawling the words pro-choice on his arm during their MTV Unplugged is but the most famous instance. Their causes have ranged far and wide, from the Tibetan Freedom movement to carbon mitigation and even preservation of wild horses. In 2018, the band helped raise an astounding $10.8 million for Seattles most disadvantagedpeople.

14. Spin The Black Circle

In 2019, Pearl Jam were appointed as official ambassadors of Record Store Day. In truth, they were passionate advocates for the format long before the vinyl revival struck and every band was releasing albums in 50 different colours. In 1994, they issued their classic album Vitalogy on vinyl two weeks before the CD version selling 34,000 copies in its first week alone a record that stood until2014.

15. Plan B-Side

Pearl Jam never play the same show twice. Thats because no band has done more to elevate both B-sides and deep cuts, the group often playing them with the same regularity as their biggest anthems. In the case of Jeremy B-side Yellow Ledbetter, it became one of their standard set closers impressive given few have a clue what the song is actually about. Including the man who originally created it. Eddie started making up words on the spot and we kept them, wrote Mike McCready in the liner notes to 2003 B-side collection Lost Dogs. I still dont know what its about and I dont want to!

16. Radio-Ed

In January 1995, Pearl Jam were taking over the airwaves in more ways than one with DJ Eddie Vedder hosting their very own show christened Self-Pollution Radio. A four-and-a-half hour special broadcast, Self-Pollution featured interviews, two sets from Pearl Jam and live cuts from Soundgarden, Mad Season, Mudhoney and the Fastbacks, plus the debut of a song titled Exhausted, taken from a still untitled, upcoming post-Nirvana project from a certain someone. Youll never guessFoo

17. Masters Of Tour

Famously, in 1994, Pearl Jam entered into a protracted spat with Ticketmaster, taking issue with the additional fees being charged to fans. While the band experimented with numerous ways to circumvent Ticketmaster, they soon struggled to locate venues not beholden to exclusive contracts with the ticketing giant. It is often incorrectly cited that Pearl Jam sued Ticketmaster they didnt but they did journey to the U.S. Congress to argue that the company was tantamount to a monopoly. All the members of Pearl Jam remember what its like to be young and not have a lot of money, said Stone Gossard at a hearing. Weve made a conscious decision that we do not want to put the price of our concerts out of the reach of our fans In 1995 Pearl Jam commenced with their Ticketmaster Boycott Tour by building their own shows, which were subsequently affected by counterfeit tickets and bad weather. The tour was scrapped. Eventually, the Ticketmaster case was closed and headlines declared Pearl Jam the losers. The pages of history, however, have been far kinder in casting them as the noble band who went above and beyond to protect theirfans.

18. Talking 'Bout My Generation(s)

Pearl Jams role as a unifying generational force in rock is commonly overlooked. Bruce Springsteen and The Who rank among their highest-profile fans, but it was in 1995 that this was most clearly seen on top of touring together, Pearl Jam and Neil Young joined forces to record their brilliant album Mirror Ball. Working with him was just surreal, Stone told K!. Youre there, thinking, Okaaaaaay, thats Neil Young! We went in there and hacked as well as wecould!

19. GRAMMY Out Of Control

For many musicians, a GRAMMY win is the ultimate artistic accolade. It is for that reason that Eddies bemused 1996 acceptance speech reverberates to this day. I dont know what this means, I dont think it means anything. Thats just how I feel, he offered, gazing upon Pearl Jams award for Best Hard Rock Performance. Thanks, Iguess.

20. Under The Influence

You dont sell 10 million copies of one album without having a profound impact on the next generation of artists. As such, Pearl Jams influence is felt often in ways undetected in the work of everyone from Corey Taylor and Biffy Clyro to Brian Fallon and BillyTalent.

21. Lights! Cameron! Action!

When Soundgardens Matt Cameron joined Pearl Jam in 1998 it was not only a landmark moment for alt.rock, but also the band. After years of having a revolving cast of drummers, Matt brought a stability that had been lacking. Crucially, he also brought huge tracks, too conjuring up the beloved likes of The Fixer and You Are. Matt Cameron writes songs and we run to find step stools in order to reach his level, said Eddie in Lost Dogs linernotes.

22. Roskilde

It was a tragedy that shook the music world to its core. On June 30, 2000, a crowd crush occurred during Pearl Jams headline set at Roskilde Festival, Denmark, which despite the bands best efforts to calm the situation resulted in the death of nine people. It was the worst thing weve ever experienced, hopefully it will remain so, reflected Eddie to K! in 2009. I was having a really hard time with, Why us? We tried to take care of people, to protect people, to feel responsible for the crowd at all times with ticket prices and their safety. The tragedy nearly broke Pearl Jam. We just had to get through it, somehow, Eddie added. As you do with anything. As you do with death, or any of the negative things that happen to human beings. And we had to keep the musicintact.

23. Monkey (Wrench) Business

In 2012, Metallica launched their own label, Blackened Recordings, and were widely saluted for taking complete control of their art. Yet, all the way back in late 2004, Pearl Jam had made the move to set up their own label Monkeywrench. After experimenting with self-releasing music via The Molo Sessions and releasing their 5K-rated self-titled album as a joint venture with Clive Davis J Records Backspacer eventually became the bands first fully self-released album in2009.

24. Boot Legends

When Gigaton was released on March 27, Pearl Jam officially had 11 studio albums to their name. In truth, however, they have hundreds of albums. Alongside their official live records 1998s Live On Two Legs, 2011s Life On Ten Legs, 2017s Lets Play Two, plus 2007s sprawling, seven-disc Live At The Gorge boxset they have been releasing their live shows as official bootlegs for years. And every tour, that number continues togrow.

25. The Seattle Sound(track)

Pearl Jam have made their mark in Hollywood more times than you would think. The band made cameos in Cameron Crowes 1992 movie Singles, and who could forget Eddie delivering an utterly absurd speech in spoof music biopic Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story? Moreover, many films have benefitted from Pearl Jams music including Big Fish, Reign Over Me and Dead Man Walking but none more so than Eddie Vedders incredible debut solo album Into The Wild serving as the soundtrack to Sean Penns 2007 film of the samename.

26. Beat Around The Bush

Before Green Day, NOFX and other acts were holding George W. Bush to account over the Iraq War, Pearl Jam had been busy locking antlers with the 43rd president of the United States. In 2002, Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder wrote Bu$hleaguer a bitter critique of Dubya that was played onstage with the frontman wearing a mask of the president. This at a time when national patriotism was at fever pitch in the wake of 9/11. The result? Their HQ received threatening messages. Quarters were hurled at them. They werent fazed. I come from a punk rock background so I love that stuff, Jeff Ament told Kerrang! in 2018. I love people getting mad and getting upset and reacting. Thats the best of art, that you can get a reaction out of somebody whether itsa reaction of pure joy or pure hate. I think both are good. It wouldnt be the last time a president would feel theirwrath

27. PJ20

In 2011 something extraordinary happened: Pearl Jam, after years of embracing their right to privacy, opened the vaults to mark their 20th anniversary. The PJ20 film which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival saw director Cameron Crowe assemble 30,000 hours of Pearl Jam footage and music, all bolstered with new interviews. It was a revelatory and joyous look into a world that had long been off limits. It was amazing, and I feel honoured that Cameron made it, Mike McCready told Kerrang! in 2013. Sitting there in Toronto, it was a big emotional release. And sad. It was hard towatch.

28. Diss-idents

Currently taking up George W. Bushs former role as a lightning rod for Pearl Jams ire is, unsurprisingly, president Donald Trump. In 2018, the group allowed a huge inflatable balloon of an infantalised Trump to be set up outside their O2 Arena show in London. More damningly, they released the one-off single Cant Deny Me a protest song, featuring the pointed lyrics The country you are now poisoning / Condition critical. And thats just an appetiser compared to some of the lyrics aimed at him onGigaton

29. The Long Road

Trying to order pizza with five guys is hard, said Eddie Vedder at the PJ20 film launch press conference. To get five guys together and make music for this long is a miracle. Behind this is the sobering fact that Pearl Jam are the only one of grunges four superstar acts that never fell apart. The story of Pearl Jam takes the usual rock story and turns it on its head, said Cameron Crowe. Usually it starts out with a spark of brilliance, and then you have success, and tragedy cuts it short. Pearl Jam is tragedy surmounted, joy throughsurvival.

30. It's Evolution, Baby

When Pearl Jam released Gigatons brilliant first single Dance Of The Clairvoyants, it came as a surprise to many. Where has the Talking Heads influence come from? Why is Stone playing bass? Since when has Mike been this funky? Some 30 years into their existence, Pearl Jam are still finding new ways to enchant and confound listeners onGigaton.

Posted on March 31st 2020, 4:05pm

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Novel Coronavirus Could Have Entered and Evolved in Humans Much Before Outbreak in Wuhan: Study – The Weather Channel

Representational Image

The latest study conducted by the team of international scientistsrevealed that the novel coronavirus could have transmitted from animals to humans years before the first case was detected in Wuhan, China.

The novel coronavirus, officially named SARS-CoV-2, has spread across more than 200 countries and territories across the globe. The infection COVID-19 has already claimed more than 43,000 lives since its outbreak back in December 2019 in Wuhan. Ever since the outbreak was reported, researchers have been trying to decode the origin of the novel coronavirus strain.

Origin of novel coronavirus

Using a comparative analysis of genomic datacollected from various genetic studies of the coronavirusan international team of researchers propose two possible hypotheses about the origin of this deadly virus.

Among the origin hypothesis, one theory suggests that novel coronavirus may have crossed from the animal barrier to settle in humansbefore it evolved into an active strain and started to induce the disease. It is possible that a progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 jumped into humans, acquiring the genomic features through adaptation during undetected human-to-human transmission, says the paper.

Another, far scarier scenario is that it evolved into the current strain in an animal host before transmission to humans. In this scenario, there is the risk of future re-emergence similar outbreaks, the study highlights.

The correspondence was published in Nature Medicine. The researchers compared the genetic code of the novel coronavirus from its ancestral strains, found in bats and pangolin, to understand the evolutionary history of the virus. The researchers from different institutes in the United States, Britain and Australia, also explain the notable features of the SARS-CoV-2 genome in this paper.

A bat or a pangolin?

In December end, when the suspicious cases of pneumonia emerged in Wuhan, it was linked to the Huanan Market in the province, which indicated the presence of an animal source for the spread of the virus.

Soon, an unknown strain of the virus was isolated by the team of researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The origin of the strain was traced to a bat virus found close to the China-Myanmar border. However, the bat coronavirus and the novel coronavirus strains were only 96 percent similarnot sufficient to attribute as the definite source. The bat virus did not showcase the presence of spike proteinrequired for the virus to bind in human cells.

The study also highlights the presence of the SARS-CoV-2-related coronavirus in the illegally imported Malayan pangolins. Further, the analyses showcased the presence of spike protein required to optimise the virus for transmission in humans among the coronaviruses found in pangolins.

However, the present study reveals that the novel coronavirus found responsible for the current outbreak had a mutation in its genes at the polybasic cleavage site, which was not found in both coronaviruses identified in bats and pangolins.

Evolution of coronavirus by natural selection

Analysing the research so far, the scientists say that the novel coronavirus had acquired both the polybasic cleavage site and mutations in the spike protein suitable for binding to humans naturally. The question, however, remains whether this natural selection occurred in humans or animals.

The spike protein interacts with furin, a widely distributed enzyme in the human body. This interaction mediates the fusion of virus and human cell membranes, which triggers the symptoms and makes it contagious. Some of the virus diseases like HIV and Ebola also have the furin-like cleavage site, which makes them contagious.

Moreover, the study also says an animal host to allow natural selection efficiently, there has to be a high population density. The dwindling population of pangolins is, therefore, may not be an ideal host for such a mutation to occur.

The study concludes that it is important to understand the properties of a virus to trace the origins of the pandemic. Scientists hope that a detailed understanding of how an animal virus-infected humans will help in the prevention of future zoonotic events.

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Microsoft 365 Shift Demonstrates Evolution Of Cloud-Based Services – Seeking Alpha

If there's one piece of software that has held up remarkably well over several decades, it's Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Office suite of productivity apps. From business to personal life, the applications in Office have proven their value time and time again to people all over the world. Perhaps because of that, Microsoft has used Office as a means to push forward the definition of what software is, how it should be delivered, how it should be sold, what platforms it should run on, and much more over the last decade or so.

In June of 2011, for example, the company officially unveiled Office 365, which provided access to all the same applications in the regular suite but in a subscription-like "service" form that was delivered (and updated) via the internet. Since then, the company has added new features and functions to the service, made it available to mobile platforms such as Android and iOS, in addition to Windows and MacOS, and generally used it as a means to expand how people think about applications they use on a regular basis. In the process, Microsoft has made many people comfortable with the idea of cloud-based software becoming a cloud-based service.

Yesterday, the company took the next step in the evolution of the product and renamed the consumer, as well as the small and medium business versions of Office 365 to Microsoft 365-changes that will all occur on April 21. The name change is obviously a subtle one, but beyond the title, the changes run much deeper. Specifically, the new brand reflects how the set of applications that make up the company's popular subscription-based offering is evolving. It also reflects how the company itself is changing.

In the case of the SMB versions of Microsoft 365, the name change is simply a branding one, which better reflects that the service includes more than just basic office productivity, particularly with the Teams collaboration tools and service. For the new consumer-oriented Personal and Family versions of Microsoft 365, the changes are more extensive.

Notably, the consumer versions of Microsoft 365 include the addition of several new applications, a number of AI-powered intelligent enhancements to existing applications and-in an important first for Microsoft-some mobile-first advancements. The new version of the Microsoft Editor function works across Word, Outlook.com, and the web, and is essentially a Grammarly competitor that moves beyond simple spell and grammar checking to making AI-powered rewriting suggestions, avoiding plagiarism and more.

The AI-based Designer feature in PowerPoint-which I have found to be incredibly useful-has been enhanced in this latest version of Microsoft 365 to support a wider array of content that it can "beautify" and includes support for a greatly expanded library of supplementary graphics, videos, fonts and templates.

The biggest change to Excel is the forthcoming addition of Money for Excel, an add-in that gives it Quicken-like money and account management features. In addition, working in conjunction with Wolfram Alpha, Microsoft is adding in support for over 100 new "smart" data types that makes it significantly easier to track everything from calories to travel locations and more. In essence, it provides the type of intelligence that people may have expected computing devices and applications to have all along.

The addition of both Teams (for Consumers) and Family Safety are interesting because of the capabilities they bring to the service and because both will launch first on mobile OSes-Android and iOS. Microsoft has had mobile versions of its main productivity suite apps, as well as its One Drive storage service for a while now, but this Microsoft 365 launch marks the first time the company will debut new apps in mobile form. On the one hand, the move is logical and not terribly surprising given how much people use their mobile devices today-particularly for communications and tracking, which are the core functions of Teams and Family Safety respectively. Nevertheless, it's still noteworthy, because it does show how Microsoft has been able to pivot on its typical "deliver on PC first" strategy and keep itself as relevant as possible.

In the case of Teams, the company isn't replicating its Enterprise version, but instead has developed a consumer-focused edition that allows for real-time chats, document sharing, creating and tracking lists, and more in a manner that should make sense for most consumers. Family Safety is completely new and allows parents to provide limits and controls on digital device usage and content, as well as track the physical location and even driving of other family members. Importantly, Microsoft made the point to say that it's doing all these things without sharing (or certainly not selling) any of this information to auto insurance companies, advertisers or any other companies. While the company would have undoubtedly created a bit of an outcry if it did any of that, it was still reassuring to hear a big tech vendor emphasize these privacy and security-focused concerns. Let's hope all major tech vendors follow suit.

Speaking of privacy and security, Microsoft took the opportunity with its Microsoft 365 launch announcement to also unveil the latest version of Microsoft Edge, the company's significantly improved browser. In addition to several convenience-based features, such as the addition of vertical tabs, smart copying from web pages, and the ability to easily create portable "collections" of content from web-based sources, the company debuted some important privacy features as well. Password Monitor, for example, can automatically track whether any of your logins are available on the dark web and encourage you to change your passwords on sites where that may have occurred.

Given the huge number of security breaches and data exposure that have impacted almost all of us at this point, this could prove to be an incredibly valuable new feature. In addition, the company added refined tracking controls that allows you to set the amount information you are willing to share with other websites as a result of your browsing sessions.

All told, it was a pretty impressive set of announcements that highlights how Microsoft has managed to continue adjusting its strategies to match the changing needs of the market and its customers. Of course, many consumers will still be content using the free versions of the basic Office applications and services that Microsoft will continue to make available even after April 21. However, the functionality that the company has built into its new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family offerings will be compelling enough for many to make the switch, and the success that the Office suite of applications has enjoyed for so long will continue with the new Microsoft 365.

Disclaimer: Some of the author's clients are vendors in the tech industry

Disclosure: None.

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Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.

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Microsoft 365 Shift Demonstrates Evolution Of Cloud-Based Services - Seeking Alpha

Textbooks Still Misrepresent the Origin of Life – Discovery Institute

Editors note: The profoundest mystery and thus the deepest inspiration is life itself. Discovery Institute Press has just published a greatly expanded edition of the 1984 classic of intelligent design science literature,The Mystery of Lifes Origin. Below is an excerpt adapted from a brand new chapter. Dr. Wells, the author of the chapter, is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Science & Culture. He holds PhDs in Molecular and Cell Biology (U.C. Berkeley) and Religious Studies (Yale University).

The Miller-Urey experiment may well be called the poster child for origin-of-life research. Most modern biology students have seen some version of the drawing below, which represents an experimental apparatus used in 1952 by University of Chicago graduate student Stanley L. Miller. Because Miller performed his experiment under the supervision of Nobel laureate Harold C. Urey, and the results were published in 1953, it became known as the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment.

In 2000, I published a book titled Icons of Evolution: Why Much of What we Teach About Evolution is Wrong. I described and analyzed ten images (icons of evolution) commonly used in biology textbooks to teach high school and college students about evolutionary theory. I showed that all ten icons misrepresent the evidence and that some scientists had known this for decades.

After 2000, some textbooks were corrected, but in many cases the corrections were minor and the books continued to perpetuate the misrepresentations. This prompted me to publish another book in 2017, titled Zombie Science, which included six more icons of evolution that I didnt have room to include in my 2000 book. All sixteen icons misrepresented the evidence, but many were still being used in 2017. I called this zombie science, because although the icons were empirically dead they continued to stalk our classrooms and research institutions.

I argued that this was not due simply to laziness or a reluctance to give up an attractive theory. It revealed something much deeper: a dogmatic commitment to materialistic philosophy. Biology courses were being misused to indoctrinate students in materialism, the view that only material objects and the forces among them are real. In this view free will, spirit, intelligent design, and God are mere illusions.

One of the icons of evolution was the Miller-Urey experiment.

Read the rest inThe Mystery of Lifes Origin: The Continuing Controversy, from Discovery Institute Press.

Photo credit: In the Miller-Urey apparatus, a spark from two electrodes simulated lightning, shown above, by Griffinstorm / CC BY-SA.

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Textbooks Still Misrepresent the Origin of Life - Discovery Institute

From rainbow to gray: The evolution of hair dye – CNN

Written by Marianna Cerini, CNN

For centuries, hair dye has been pivotal in helping people portray a certain image -- to either fit in with the beauty standards of the day or to dramatically subvert them.

Women in particular have long tried to conform with the notion that female beauty comes with a glossy mane -- from blonde to black to dusted with gold or flour, depending on the time and place.

"Throughout history, the status of our hair has served as an instant visual cue for value judgment," said Caterina Gentili, PhD candidate at the Centre for Appearance Research in England, in a phone interview. "One of the many ways for society to objectify female bodies, and deem them worthy, or not, of attention."

In recent decades, Gentili said "hair color products have become a key tool for women to stay visible, and shield them from one of the biggest stigmas placed on them: aging."

However, the figures don't show a small, growing trend among women to embrace their natural locks -- grays included -- as a statement against traditional gender expectations.

Now, dying your hair is not solely about covering up imperfections; it's about upending ideals, making a bold statement and reclaiming your natural hue.

From leeches and sulfuric acid to synthetic dyes

In its early iterations, hair coloring was done by both men and women to enhance their looks or hide white strands, according to Victoria Sherrow's "Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History."

Ancient civilizations used rudimentary hair colorants, based on recipes that included cassia bark, leeks, leeches, charred eggs, henna -- still commonly used across the Middle East and India -- and even gold dust.

Ancient Greeks favored gold and red-gold shades, associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, health and youthfulness. Likewise, high-class Greek and Roman prostitutes opted for blonde hues to suggest sensuality.

This advertisement for Circassian hair dye published in 1843 promises to change light hair into "beautiful" brown or black. Credit: Bettman Archive/Getty Images

It wasn't until the Middle Ages in Europe that hair dyeing began shifting into a predominantly female habit.

Bleaches, often made with blended flowers, saffron and calf kidneys, were particularly in vogue, although Roman Catholics associated blond hair with lasciviousness.

Red dyes, often a mix of saffron and sulfur powder -- the latter of which could induce nosebleeds and headaches, was popularized during the 16th-century reign of Elizabeth I of England.

The hue was a favorite in Italian courts as well, thanks to Renaissance artist Titian, who painted female beauties with red-gold locks. In the 18th century, European elites favored perfumed white and pastel powders made from wheat flour dusted lightly onto natural hair and wigs.

While most hair dyes were composed of plants and animal products, the evolution of the practice also saw the use of dangerous, even lethal methods to change hair color: lead combs to darken it, or sulfuric acid to lighten it.

It wasn't until the early 20th century that hair dye as we know it -- chemical, in a rainbow of colors, shop-bought or salon-applied -- came to be.

In 1907, a young French chemist named Eugene Schueller used para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical discovered in the previous century, for the world's first synthetic dye, which he called "Oral."

Two years later, Schueller founded his business, the French Harmless Hair Dye Company -- a name meant to alleviate people's fears of using manufactured hair color. In 1909, he decided to change it to something a little snappier: L'Oral.

A shop assistant holds a color sample against a customer's hair in 1965. Credit: Angelo Cozzi/Mondadori/Getty Images

The aging card

For the first decades of the 20th century, women were fearful of commercial dye formulants. Chemical hair color was considered unsafe, and the practice itself had an image problem: as in the modest Victorian era, it was seen as something vain women, not respectable housewives, would do.

In the 1940s, even as the beauty trend became more popular, salons offered back entrances for clients who didn't want to make their dye habits known.

To expand their market, some beauty companies decided to tap into the anxiety around aging and sell color as a way to cover up gray hair. A black-and-white French L'Oral ad from the 1920s depicted a sad-looking woman next to a smiling version of herself in a black bob; the English translation reads: "Not one more white hair; forever 30 years old."

A Clairol print campaign from 1943, "Gray Hair -- The Heartless Dictator," declared: "Without justice or kindness, gray hair can rule your life... It can dictate many things you say or do. No wonder other women refuse to tolerate this tyrant."

"While the ideal had been perpetuated for generations, the modern beauty industry pushed it in a more aggressive way, playing on insecurities (and) self-doubt."

Advertisers saw an opportunity to market home coloring kits to women in the 1950s. Credit: Found Image Holdings/Corbis/Getty Images

But dyeing is no longer just about natural looks. Dip dyes and rainbow hues spanning pink, turquoise and violet have become fashionable for young women across the world and, to an extent, men (such as celebrities Jared Leto and Zayn Malik). Bright shades also began appearing on armpit hair, notably by Miley Cyrus.

Color is now used to make a bold individual statement. Credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Roxie Jane Hunt, a Seattle-based hair stylist who specializes in rainbow dyes, sees this new approach as a way "to demonstrate personal choice and play around with identity," she said over the phone. "A lot of women feel like they want to stand out, not blend in."

Japanese twins Ami and Aya -- "Amiya" -- during Paris Fashion Week, March, 2020. Credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Gray is the new blond

Suddenly, gray tones were cool -- albeit, one might argue, only on women under 40, and when achieved via costly colorants and treatments.

While gray coloring might trend on Instagram, natural gray hair still has a complicated reputation for women around the world -- and in China, men.

"Gray has been made out to be something to be avoided at all costs in the name of self-respect," Robinson noted.

Jamie Lee Curtis at the "Knives Out" film premiere in Los Angeles in November, 2019. Credit: David Buchan/Shutterstock

For the handful of famous women who have embraced it -- Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis, Theresa May, Christine Lagarde -- there's a much larger segment of the entertainment, cultural and political worlds that have not.

"The lack of white-haired role models or naturally graying young stylish icons isn't at all surprising," Gentili said. "For a long time, and still today, a woman with gray hair would conjure up images of a grandmother: wise and nurturing, but completely desexualized. Salt-and-pepper men on the other hand -- even that expression is so different! -- are seen as distinguished, charismatic, confident, experienced, sexy."

"Embracing natural gray hair truly is a lifestyle shift, not just a trend," she said. Most people who do it don't usually return to dyeing. It's a liberating decision."

She notices how young some of the posters are, and hopes the term "premature graying," which describes people in their 20s and 30s, can be re-evaluated.

"Is it truly 'premature graying,' or has hair dye been established as such a standard that we don't know what natural looks like at certain ages?"

Be it gray or lime green, embracing a color change outside of the established canon is, for many, a leap of faith.

"It's a form of self-expression," Hunt said.

All the more if you're asserting yourself as a woman who is not afraid of aging.

"It takes courage," Gentili said. "It's a choice far more rebellious than any pink dye will ever be."

Top image caption: Model Sita Abellan outside Paco Rabanne, during Paris Fashion Week on September 26, 2019.

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The Evolution of Defending in the Premier League: From Bruce to Van Dijk – beIN SPORTS MENA Breaking News

Aarran Summers

Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister each made fifty appearances for Manchester United in their first Premier League title-winning season in 1992/ 93. It was this defensive stability and ingenuity that allowed Alex Ferguson to win his first domestic title of many in England.

England's first division was now rebranded, income was flowing like never before, and new talent from abroad was arriving. The league was undergoing a new identity, and it was evident that the style of play, particularly defending, was going to change forever.

English football is famed for its aggressive defensive approach. It was all about intimidating the opponent without the ball, tackling hard when the opponent had the ball.

Bruce was known for his excellent heading ability, and he also able to go forward more often than players of today. Contrast that with Rio Ferdinand, arguably the most successful defender in United's history, a player once labelled by Ferguson as the best defender in the world.

Several English journalists regarded Ferdinand as one of country's best continental style defenders. His game featured on playing the football from out the back, instead of the route one style we rarely see today. The emphasis now shifted to retaining possession, starting from the back, instead of potentially losing it at the first opportune moment.

Ferdinand could also cope with playing against lower league sides in the FA Cup to playing against strong attack-minded teams in the UEFA Champions League, by merely adapting his game.

Tony Adams was also a Premier League winner and forged incredible partnerships with the likes of Lee Dixon and Martin Keown. Despite their dominance and persistent defending, they were unable to achieve what their teammates managed some four years after Arsenal secured their first Premier League title.

Arsenal's unbeaten season centred around their unique attacking play but also their dogged defensive approach. As football evolves the level of talent in a squad does not necessarily run parallel with that, as an unbeaten season should epitomise a defensive masterclass.

Liverpool's star defender, Virgil van Dijk, is a prime example of this. The Dutchman enjoyed one a run of not being dribbled past in 2019. His no-nonsense approach, however, is similar to that of Bruce some twenty-five years earlier.

There are more foreign players in the Premier League than there were in 1993, and every player has introduced their own culture to the competition. The evolution of defending goes hand in hand with the development of attacking. Where the pace of the striker has increased, so too has the defender.

There are always exciting debates as to whether Bruce or anyone from the 1990s could compete with players of today. The players are fitter like never before. The approach has certainly changed.

If Bruce were playing in his prime today, he probably would end up on his backside if Lionel Messi sprinted past him. However, the Argentine would undoubtedly know about it, if Bruce made contact, with his usual ruthless enthusiasm.

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How and why some frogs evolved extreme heads – Jill Lopez

Many frogs look like a water balloon with legs, but don't be fooled. Beneath slick skin, some species sport spines, spikes and other skeletal secrets.

While most frogs share a simple skull shape with a smooth surface, others have evolved fancier features, such as faux fangs, elaborate crests, helmet-like fortification and venom-delivering spikes. A new study is the first to take a close look at the evolution and function of these armored frog skulls.

Florida Museum of Natural History researchers used 3D data to study skull shape in 158 species representing all living frog families. Radically shaped skulls were often covered in intricate patterns of grooves, ridges and pits formed by extra layers of bone. The research team found that this trait, known as hyperossification, has evolved more than 25 times in frogs. Species with the same feeding habits or defenses tended to develop similarly shaped and patterned skulls, even if they were separated by millions of years of evolution.

"Superficially, frogs may look similar, but when you look at their skulls, you see drastic differences," said Daniel Paluh, the study's lead author and a University of Florida doctoral student. "Some of the weirdest skulls are found in frogs that eat birds and mammals, use their heads as a shield, or in a few rare cases, are venomous. Their skulls show how strange and diverse frogs can be."

The last comprehensive study of frog skulls was published in 1973. Since then, scientists have doubled the number of described frog species, updated our understanding of their evolutionary relationships and developed new analytical techniques with the help of CT scanning.

This enabled Paluh to use 36 landmarks on frog skulls, scanned and digitized as part of the National Science Foundation-fundedoVertproject, to analyze and compare shapes across the frog tree of life.

"Before we had methods to digitize specimens, really the only way to quantify shape was to take linear measurements of each skull," he said.

Not only do hyperossification and bizarre skull shapes tend to appear together, Paluh found, but they are often associated with frogs that eat either very large prey or use their heads for defense.

Frogs that eat other vertebrates - birds, reptiles, other frogs and mice - often have giant, roomy skulls, with a jaw joint near the back. This gives them a bigger gape with which to scoop up their prey, Paluh said, referencing Pacman frogs as one example. His analysis showed these species' skulls are stippled with tiny pits, which could provide extra strength and bite force.

Nearly all frogs lack teeth on their lower jaw, but some, such as Budgett's frogs, have evolved lower fanglike structures that allow them to inflict puncture wounds on their prey. One species, Guenther's marsupial frog, has true teeth on both jaws and can eat prey more than half its body length.

Other frogs use their heads to plug the entrance of their burrows as protection from predators. These species tend to have cavernous skulls overlaid with small spikes. A few, such as Bruno's casque-headed frog, were recently discovered to be venomous. When a predator rams the head of one these frogs, specialized spikes pierce venom glands just under the skin as a defense.

While the study showed a persistent overlap between hyperossification and fanciful skull shape, researchers aren't sure which came first. Did frogs start eating large prey and then evolve beefier skulls or vice versa?

"That's kind of a 'chicken or the egg' question," Paluh said.

The common ancestor of today's 7,000 frog species did not have an ornamented skull. But heavily fortified skulls do appear in even more ancient frog ancestors, said David Blackburn, Florida Museum curator ofherpetologyand study co-author.

"While the ancestor of all frogs did not have a hyperossified skull, that's how the skulls of quite ancient amphibian ancestors were built," he said. "These frogs might be using ancient developmental pathways to generate features that characterized their ancestors deep in the past."

Previous studies proposed that frogs evolved hyperossification to prevent water loss in dry environments, but Paluh's research found that habitat and hyperossification were not necessarily linked. The trait shows up in frogs that live underground, in trees, in water and on land.

But habitat does influence skull shape: Aquatic frogs tend to have long, flat skulls, while digging species often have short skulls with pointed snouts, a shape that also enables them to use their mouths like chopsticks to catch small, scurrying prey such as ants and termites, Paluh said. These species include the Mexican burrowing toad and the Australian tortoise frog - distant relatives that live in different parts of the world.

While the study sheds new light on frog skull shape, Blackburn said we still don't know much about the basic biology of frogs.

"Weirdly, it's easier for us to generate beautiful images of skulls than it is to know what these frogs eat," Blackburn said. "Natural history remains quite hard. Just because we know things exist doesn't mean we know anything about them."

The study will publish this week in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The evolution of Science Fiction – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The current coronavirus outbreak feels like something out of a Science Fiction (SF) novel to many fans of SF, who recall Dean Koonz having mentioned Wuhan-400 as the origin of a virus in his 1981 novel, The Eyes of Darkness. Neither Koonz nor his fellow SF writers have powers of prophecy. Their prescience is merely the result of their having used their imagination and creativity to extrapolate the cultural reality of their time into the future.

So, what is the genesis of this genre? Mary Shelleys Frankenstein in 1818 was the first true sci-fi novel in a genre that has historically been dominated by men (Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, Michael Crichton, Kurt Vonnegut, L Ron Hubbard etc). Kicking off modern SF in the 1940s and 1950s were writers like Asimov, Joseph Campbell and Robert Heinlein who reflected optimism and excitement about things like space travel and the power of technology to solve humanitys problems.

The New Wave in the 1960s and 1970s (Samuel Delany, Thomas Disch etc) saw more cynical and experimental explorations, while cyberpunk in the 1980s evoked even darker visions of a humanity enslaved to technology that exacerbated social inequity. By the turn of the century, SF became the visionary vehicle for many innovative ideas about nanotechnology, smart matter, virtual reality and so on. Kim Stanley Robinsons books on terraforming Mars spring to mind. In the past decade, SF by and about people of colour, women, and LGBTQIA+ persons have brought fresh perspectives to the genre.

Star Trek and Star Wars exposed me (and probably my entire generation) to SF. My favourites, Aldous Huxleys Brave New World and George Orwells 1984, are in the sub-genre of speculative fiction. Huxleys last novel, Island, a provocative counterpoint to Brave New World, depicts an ideal society on a remote island. In The Giver by Lois Lowry, a society that has eliminated pain and strife by converting to Sameness has also removed emotional depth from their lives. Douglas Adams The HitchhikersGuide to the Galaxy was probably was the first satire of fantasy fiction. Some books and movies attained cult status in India: 2001: A Space Odyssey directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Arthur C Clarkes novella; Logans Run, Blade Runner, Soylent Green, and Andrei Tarkovskys masterpiece, Solaris.

While most SF was dominated by robot rebellion, apocalypse, or tyrannical governance, Dune, Foundation, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Stranger in a Strange Land, Neuromancer, The Left Hand of Darkness, Ringworld, and Rendezvous with Rama offered intellectually challenging plots and philosophically imagined worlds. In India, the gentler, more narrative-driven world of Fantasy fiction and cinema, as exemplified in Lord of the Rings, Narnia, HarryPotter, the Dark Materials Trilogy, The Hunger Games, and the Game of Thrones, would eventually usurp the spot the great sci-fi novels once had.

Contemporary novels and short stories in the SF genre incorporate the tech world and faithfully depict it, but add a slight element of fiction a good example being the recent bestseller (now a movie) by Dave Eggers called The Circle, a techno-thriller of sorts. Cixin Lius recent success with The Three Body Problem is backed by solid scientific knowledge (physics, software engineering etc) and magnificent philosophical imagination.

The greatest challenge for SF writers is to explore the future in a realistic manner. As the best-selling author of Sapiens Professor Yuval Noah Harari says, Science Fiction shapes the understanding of the public on things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which are likely to change our lives and society more than anything else in the coming decades.The author is a technologist based in Silicon Valley who is gently mad about books.

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The evolution of Science Fiction - The New Indian Express

15 Photos That Show The Evolution Of Brock Lesnar | TheThings – TheThings

Brock Lesnars career in the WWE has ran nearly 20 years, give or take his break away from the company for his time in the UFC. He started with the WWE in 2000with OVW and by 2002 he was a WWE Champion, the youngest in company history. Over that time, Brock has been called many things, including the Next Big Thing, and he definitely earned that nickname. With Paul Heyman by his side, Brock has basically been the face of WWE for nearly two decades and is the most legit athlete the promotion has ever had.

His evolution from amateur wrestler to now current WWE Champion is simply amazing. All with Paul Heyman being his advocate, Lesnar is one of the most talented stars in WWE today and has evolved into a big box office name for the WWE, who only have him wrestle at the biggest events. Its why his contract is something everyone wants, where he wrestles with limited dates and gets millions of dollars. Here is Brocks evolution from rookie to champion.

Before joining WWE, Brock Lesnar was one of the best amateur wrestlers in the country as he won the 2000 NCAA Division 1 Heavyweight wrestling championship in his senior year at the University of Minnesota. He finished as a two-time NCAA All-American, two-time Big Ten Conference champion and had a record of 106-5 in four years.

When he signed with the WWE, he was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling, which was WWEs developmental territory at the time. There he teamed with his University of Minnesota roommate Shelton Benjamin as a tag team known as the Minnesota Stretching Crew and they won the OVW Southern Tag Team Champions three different times.

Brock Lesnar made his debut right after WrestleMania, attacking Al Snow, Maven and Spike Dudley during their match. He was accompanied by Paul Heyman to the ring, which marks the first time they were paired together. Its here where he was dubbed by Heyman, The Next Big Thing and his first feud was with the Hardy Boyz.

Brock Lesnars push was accelerated as by June, he was in the King of the Ring tournament. On RAW, Brock defeated Bubba Ray Dudley and Booker T, and then at the Pay Per View, he defeated Test in his semi-final match and Rob Van Dam in the final. The winner was granted a WWE Undisputed Championship match at SummerSlam.

With Brock Lesnar winning the King of the Ring, he got a title shot against The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship. Brock would hit The Rock with an F-5 and win the championship, becoming the youngest person in WWE history to win the top title. It was also only just months after debuting.

Brock Lesnar would lose the title and start a feud with Big Show late in the year and he needed to win the Royal Rumble match in order to get a shot at Kurt Angle for the title. He would beat Big Show in a match for a spot in the Rumble and eliminate the Undertaker last to secure his spot in the main event of WrestleMania.

Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle was a dream match of sorts because of their amateur wrestling background. Angle was walking in injured and Brock injured himself when he tried to perform a shooting star press, a move he used in OVW but never used on the main roster. He would pin Angle and regain the title.

Brock Lesnar would leave WWE in 2004 and tried his like at football. But he eventually went to Japan and in his debut match, he defeated Kazuyuki Fujita and Masahiro Chono for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. New Japan would strip Lesnar of the title months later for not defending it due to visa issues.

Brock Lesnar would now turn his attention to mixed martial arts and specifically, the UFC. He lost his first match to Frank Mir but was granted a UFC Heavyweight championship match at UFC 91 against Randy Couture. Lesnar won in the second round to become the new champion in just his fourth MMA fight.

After time in the UFC, Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE in 2012 and faced John Cena. He was brought in to bring legitimacy back to the WWE, as they were capitalizing off his success in MMA. Very quickly, Paul Heyman was brought back as Lesnars advocate to do all his speaking for him leading up to matches.

The biggest win in WWE history belongs to Brock Lesnar, who at WrestleMania 30, ended the Undertakers undefeated streak at 21 wins. It was a complete shock to everyone in attendance, as Brock hit multiple F-5s on the Undertaker, who had to go to the hospital after the match. It started a long feud between the two.

Related:20 Little Known Facts About Brock Lesnar's Private Life

The victory over Undertaker sparked a very dangerous Brock Lesnar as he was booked to be ruthless. In his first title match back, Brock delivered 16 suplexes to John Cena at SummerSlam and two F-5s, while Cena got in very little offense. He pinned Cena to become the WWE World Heavyweight champion.

When the WWE brought in the Universal Championship, Brock Lesnar won the title after beat Goldberg in a WrestleMania match, avenging his Survivor Series loss in 86 seconds to the man who now holds the title. Brock pinned him and held the title for 504 days, the sixth-longest world championship reign in WWE history.

At Money in the Bank, Brock Lesnar replaced Sami Zayn in the match and quickly climbed the ladder to win the briefcase, giving him a shot at any title he wanted. It started a small comedy time for Brock, who often put the briefcase up to his shoulder like a boombox and said it was a Brock party. He would cash it in on Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules to win the title again.

When WWE moved Smackdown to FOX, Brock Lesnar was given a title shot against Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship. Brock won the match in seconds to win his fifth WWE Championship. This also marked Lesnars first television match in 15 years, as Brock only fought on pay per views until then.

Next:8 Wrestlers That Are Banned From Working With Brock (And 8 He'd Wrestle Any Day)

Next8 Former WCW Stars That Became Successful Without WWE (And 7 That Struggled)

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15 Photos That Show The Evolution Of Brock Lesnar | TheThings - TheThings


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