NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists have reached farther back than ever into the ancestry of humans to recover and analyze DNA, using a bone found in Spain that’s estimated to be 400,000 years old. So far, the achievement has provided more questions than answers about our ancient forerunners.
The feat surpasses the previous age record of about 100,000 years for genetic material recovered from members of the human evolutionary line. Older DNA has been mapped from animals.
Experts said the work shows that new techniques for working with ancient DNA may lead to more discoveries about human origins.
Results were presented online Wednesday in the journal Nature by Matthias Meyer and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, with co-authors in Spain and China.
They retrieved the DNA from a thighbone found in a cave in northern Spain. It is among thousands of fossils from at least 28 individuals to be recovered from a chamber called the “Pit of the Bones.” The remains are typically classified as Homo heidelbergensis (hy-del-ber-GEN’-sis), but not everybody agrees.
The age of the bones has been hard to determine. A rough estimate from analyzing the DNA is around 400,000 years, which supports what Meyer said is the current view of the anthropologists excavating the site. Todd Disotell, an anthropology professor at New York University, said geological techniques suggest the remains are older than 300,000 years but it’s not clear by how much. By comparison, modern humans arose only about 200,000 years ago.
A recently released survey of American writers conducted by PEN America Center in October found that government surveillance is having a chilling effect on freedom of expression.
PEN surveyed over 500 US writers about the impact of NSA surveillance revelations on their work and found that self-censorship is rampant due to anxieties about being spied on. Those surveyed admitted to purposely steering clear of writing, speaking about and even researching certain topics. Subjects being avoided relate to military affairs, the Middle East and North Africa, mass incarceration, drug policies, pornography, the Occupy movement, the study of certain languages, and criticism of the US government, all issues in desperate need of sunlight. But self-censorship guarantees that investigative journalism on topics such as these will be hampered.
From the report:
28% have curtailed or avoided social media activities, and another 12% have seriously considered doing so;
24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it;
16% have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic, and another 11% have seriously considered it;
16% have refrained from conducting Internet searches or visiting websites on topics that may be considered controversial or suspicious, and another 12% have seriously considered it;
13% have taken extra steps to disguise or cover their digital footprints, and another 11% have seriously considered it;
3% have declined opportunities to meet (in person, or electronically) people who might be deemed security threats by the government, and another 4% have seriously considered it.
In countries with outright tyrannical regimes, it’s the government that does the censoring, whereas the US government has managed to get writers to do the legwork for them.
In a nation that prides itself on free speech, this should be cause for alarm. So where is the outrage?
We were not meant for this. We were meant to live and love and play and work and even hate more simply and directly. It is only through outrageous violence that we come to see this absurdity as normal, or to not see it at all. Each new child has his eyes torn out so he will not see, his ears removed so he will not hear, his tongue ripped out so he will not speak, his mind juiced so he will not think, and his nerves scraped so he will not feel. Then he is released into a world broken in two: others, like himself, and those to be used. He will never realize that he still has all of his senses, if only he will use them. If you mention to him that he still has ears, he will not hear you. If he hears, he will not think. Perhaps most dangerously of all, if he thinks he will not feel. And so on, again.
Metaphysics has always struck me as a prolonged form of latent insanity. If we knew the truth, we’d see it; everything else is systems and approximations. The inscrutability of the universe is quite enough for us to think about; to want to actually understand it is to be less than human, since to be human is to realize it can’t be understood.
[This is why he is the greatest thinker in history]
Hunger in Britain has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities said that the effect of Government policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food needed to be “urgently” monitored.
A surge in the number of people requiring emergency food aid, a decrease in the amount of calories consumed by British families, and a doubling of the number of malnutrition cases seen at English hospitals represent “all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventative action,” they write.
Despite mounting evidence for a growing food poverty crisis in the UK, ministers maintain there is “no robust evidence” of a link between sweeping welfare reforms and a rise in the use of food banks. However, publication of research into the phenomenon, commissioned by the Government itself, has been delayed, amid speculation that the findings may prove “embarrassing” for ministers.
The only “embarrassment” to them will be that they were caught. And there would be no more ways to spin it.
Every cell in the body is programmed to work collaboratively with every other cell, so together they can promote the healthy functioning of the organ they’re part of. You and I are the same; we’re programmed to work collaboratively with each other in order to promote the healthy functioning of civilization. But just as a cancer cell is a cell that goes insane, disconnecting from its natural programming and going off to do its own thing instead, so a malignant consciousness has come to dominate the human race, luring us into self-centered and competitive rather than collaborative attitudes toward each other. The body can heal though, and so can a civilization. Cells, and people, can remember who they really are and why they’re really here. Then all is well.
Several minutes of surveillance camera footage used to identify, then arrest and indict late computer prodigy Aaron Swartz has surfaced due to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The eleven minutes of raw video was captured by a hidden camera posted in the corner of an electrical closet at MIT in January 2011 and shows Swartz — a then-24-year-old program and activist who years earlier helped code the popular website Reddit — swapping a new hard drive into a hidden laptop that he connected to the school’s network in an attempt to download millions of scholarly articles from the academic website JSTOR.
There is a kind of crying I hope you have not experienced, and it is not just crying about something terrible that has happened, but a crying for all of the terrible things that have happened, not just to you but to everyone you know and to everyone you don’t know and even the people you don’t want to know, a crying that cannot be diluted by a brave deed or a kind word, but only by someone holding you as your shoulders shake and your tears run down your face.