Ärritumisest, GMO’dest, evolutsioonist, astronautidest ja fruktoosist

Slate’is ilmus pikem artikkel sellest, miks inimesed ärrituvad ja millist (positiivset) sotsiaalset funktsiooni sellele ärritumisele reageerimine täidab:

Humans’ sense of indignation is not just limited to violations against us. Even if you’re able-bodied, think of how offended you feel when you see another able-bodied person pull into a handicapped parking spot. Most of us will just walk on, quietly irate, but a few will yell at the driver. These moral enforcers are vital to society. Frans de Waal writes that experiments with macaques show that if you remove the individuals who perform this policing function, hostilities increase among the entire band.

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Guardian’is pikem lugu GMO’dest ja nende taastulekust Inglismaal. Artikkel on huvitav sellepärast, et tegu väga vastakaid seisukohti tutvustava artikliga, kus tuleb juttu ka küsimuse politiseeritusest ja erinevate lobigruppide tegevusest. Üks huvitavamaid väljavõtteid artiklist:

Most importantly, Moses says, what the oppositionists fail to recognise, indeed refuse to recognise, is that the process of genetic modification in our food crops is hardly unique. Here he is referring to the little discussed mutagenesis breeding programme that took place in the early years of the 20th century. ‘Around 80 years ago researchers began to irradiate seeds and treat them with carcinogenic chemicals in the expectation they would cause mutations, some of which might be useful.’ Many of these experiments produced seedlings which were useless, but a significant number were successful. ‘About 70 per cent of our current crop plants have such an event in their history. Organic farmers use them by the bucket load and nobody bats an eyelid.’

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Mina kuulusin nende hulka, kelle arvates oli inimkonna evolutsioon sama hästi kui peatunud, kuid värsked avastused näivad toetavat teooriat, mille kohaselt toimub suuremates inimgruppides evolutsioon kiiremini ja seda toetab täiendavalt ka kulutuur:

The early and mid-20th century witnessed a tension between two interpretations of evolutionary theory. Sewall Wright, an American, argued that for rapid evolution to occur, what was required was a small, semi-isolated population through which a mutation could spread quickly, even by genetic drift. Thereafter, that population could migrate and spread the allele in other populations. R.A. Fisher, a Brit, argued that, in fact, a large population was required, because only a large population can produce large numbers of mutations. Because most mutations are neutral, he reasoned, it takes a large number of mutations to produce one beneficial allele. American biologists were most influenced by Wright, but Fisher’s work is where Hawks and Harpending find their support.

. . .

“Intelligence builds on top of intelligence,” says Lahn. “[Culture] creates a stringent selection regime for enhanced intelligence. This is a positive feedback loop, I would think.” Increasing intelligence increases the complexity of culture, which pressures intelligence levels to rise, which creates a more complex culture, and so on. Culture is not an escape from conditioning environments. It is an environment of a different kind.

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Inimgeenidega loomade organid võivad tulevikus päästa tuhandeid elusid, kuid enne kui saab inimelusid päästa tuleb proovida ja katsetada, testida ja analüüsida. Piirangud Inglismaal ja Euroopa Liidus sunnivad teadlasi enda tööga edasi tegelemiseks siirduma USA’sse:

Winston is rightly furious, as he showed in a Radio 4 debate with Baroness Ruth Deech, the former chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, at denying patients that possibility on the most spurious grounds of precaution. The only way that we are ever going to know if xenotransplantation works is if we start doing it – and Winston clearly thinks he is getting close. Rather than embrace this possibility, the British and EU authorities have bound the research with so much red tape that Winston is moving the work almost 6,000 miles west.

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Üllatav lugu inimestest, keda on aegade jooksul astronaudiks valitud. Juttu tuleb nii esimestest astronautidest, süstikuprogrammi spetsialistidest kui ka NASA kuu vallutamise plaanidest:

The astronauts to be picked in 2009—NASA’s 20th group—will be the first of a third generation, and theirs will be a particularly daunting mission: Return America to the moon on an entirely new spacecraft. “We will no longer be flying on the shuttle,” says Steve Lindsey, the four-time space flier who since October 2006 has headed the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “By 2011, when the new candidates complete their initial training, we won’t even have the [shuttle] simulators.” The 2009s will also face more restrictive physical admission criteria than the shuttle generation. Because they are being selected initially for International Space Station missions, the new candidates will have to fit in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which has a height restriction of six foot three. “It’s not just a matter of height, but all kinds of anthropometrics: leg length, sitting height,” says Lindsey. So, with NASA again planning long trips in small capsules, prospective astronauts will have to be just a bit shorter than their shuttle brethren.

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Mõtlemapanev artikkel suhkrust ja fruktoosist ameeriklaste toidus ja jookides. Parajalt fruktoosi kriitikat, kuid tasakaalukalt ja huvitavalt esitatud. Üks huvitavamaid lõike käsitleb suhkru ja fruktoosi molekulile reageerivat inimkeha:

Studies have shown that the human body metabolizes fructose, the sweetest of the natural sugars, in a way that may promote weight gain. Specifically, fructose does not prompt the production of certain hormones that help regulate appetite and fat storage, and it produces elevated levels of triglycerides that researchers have linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

But the name “high-fructose corn syrup” is something of a misnomer. It is high only in relation to regular corn syrup, not to sugar. The version of high-fructose corn syrup used in sodas and other sweetened drinks consists of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, very similar to white sugar, which is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. The form of high-fructose corn syrup used in other products like breads, jams and yogurt — 42 percent fructose and 58 percent glucose — is actually lower in fructose than white sugar.

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