Archive for the ‘7.Science’ Category
Posted on January 20, 2009 - by Khaled
I Love Wild life! Yes I do. And when we love something we try as hard as we can to protect it. Wild life is endangered! This no news for you! Many animal and vegetal species are becoming more and more rare! threatened by anthropological activities. Global warming is a sad truth with fatal effects. I thought why not openly and clearly show -as web designers, developers, programmers, graphic designers…- our support and love to Wild life worldwide? why not display a small graphic on our blogs, web sites to attest this love? to say that we care! That we tr to shut down our computers when we don’t need them! And that we don’t print documents unless it is necessary!
I created some graphics that you can freely post on your blogs and web sites to join this campaign and spread the word. You can also create your own graphics and it will be nice to post the links here in the comments! If you are interested in how I created those graphics then they are mostly based on sxc.hu stock photos with some tweaks and adjustments with Photoshop. For the frogs there’s a tutorial here about how I created them.
I would also like to post a link towards an incredible nature and wild life photography site : http://luislouro.com. Luis Louro is such a great photographer! just browse his galleries and slideshows and you will be truly and genuinely fascinated by the beauty of Wild animals and vegetation. As you probably know too I am also a scientist I had the chance to see many animal and vegetal species in the wild in Africa and Europe and I can only say that such encounters are fascinating and life-changing! Especially african fauna is incredible. Diving allows you to see marvellous things. I hope everyone will have the chance to witness this beauty! And most importantly to preserve it for our children and grandchildren!
If you need other graphics sizes just let me know!
Posted on January 10, 2009 - by Khaled
Since the day scientists were able to sequence the human genome there were some huge leaps in the human genetics field. Many human characteristics and body functions are now directly linked to their genes. For instance there’s probably an intelligence gene! So what if we apply our current knowledge to more precise goal? i.e. are there any genes that predispose a human to be a sports champion? If yes, why not try and find them and be able to test our children since their youngest age?
Don’t just want to know if your child can be the next Roger Federer? Michael Jordan? Tiger woods? or may be Tom Brady? What about Michael Phelps? Heather O’reilly? Nadia Comaneci? What if you could tell if this might happen even before your child learns to walk? Well may be you can!
For less than $200 (even lower some times) companies like Atlas Sports Genetics, CyGene and Australian Genetic technologies will analyse the DNA of children as young as 1 and the results of the analysis can help predicting wether or not they genetically predisposed to be sporting champions.
All what is needed is a swab taken from inside the child’s cheek to obtain sufficient DNA. After 10-15 days the results are dispatched and may even come with a signed certificate attesting , with details, the potential “Genetic Advantage” of the child. They summarise all you need to know about physiological strengths and probable suitability of the child for certain types of sports.
These tests may have some advantages if used wisely. An implication of higher instances, like sports ministries, seem to be necessary to avoid any excesses. Such studies seem to be pushing the limits of the current scientific knowledge. The day where we will be able to predict the sanitary future and predispositions of humans for certain jobs or activities seems to be around the corner. Such situation may lead to some dramatic events though. Telling a child that he will never be able to be as good as his favorite athlete no matter how hard he tries is a problem! and might have terrible psychological effects on the child!! Should we tell him/her in such cases? should we let them try and waste their try knowing that they will probably fail? On the other hand, does knowing that a kid is predisposed to be a sports champion dive us the right to push him towards sports and performance pressuring him to give his best even though he does not like sports? This may lead to depression, a general feeling of melancholy and may, in some extreme cases, push the child to commit suicide! We, as intelligent humans, must be very careful on how to deal with such issues! How someone will live his life knowing that he will have some cardiac problems or diabetic disorders? Again should we tell him? And, for instance, will any company hire someone that is predisposed to be ill with some chronic disease? or someone who has “bad” intelligence genes? Should these kinds of tests be prohibited? Discovery is good! But should always be used wisely!
Posted on January 8, 2009 - by Khaled
Hybridization is a natural process happening with or without human intervention. It is an important evolutionary phenomenon that helps understanding complex mechanisms such as speciation. Hybrid zones between related species are thus regarded as “natural laboratories”. So mating between genetically divergent species or populations is quite common in nature.
Key insights into the process of speciation can be provided by comparing the genes flow rates throughout the whole genome and therefore underlie reproductive isolation. Some recent studies (2008) led by Geraldes et al., reported the geographical distribution of Y chromosome lineages in wild populations of rabbits from Iberia and southern France. This revealed that Y chromosomes showed a high level of differentiation between rabbit subspecies on either side of the existing hybrid zone. This was in clear contradiction with the evident gene flow detected at other loci from other chromosomes. This suggests that the Y chromosome might play a key role in reproductive isolation. This a new case species with mosaic patterns of differentiation across their genomes.
Comparisons of introgression levels between the Y chromosome, the X chromosome, the autosomes, and mitochondrial DNA are essential to the knowledge of speciation genetics. Particularly, the important role of the sex chromosomes in reproductive isolation predicts that genetic markers found on these chromosomes will often show restricted gene flow compared to other loci.
An alternative explanation can also be suggested. Relative levels of differentiation might simply echo the rate of ancestral lineage sorting (due to differences in effective population size) which is expected to be fastest for the Y and the mitochondrial DNA, followed by the X chromosome, and finally the non-sexual chromosomes. Crossing test can be useful to assess the validity of either hypothesis.
Multilocus surveys of population differentiation will be increasingly used in the speciation research nascent field. Soon we will be witnessing entire genomes scanned for introgression in hybridizing species. However this method will still be challenged by the fact that we still ignore what does an outlier locus look like? In fact, this is a common problem with other genomic researches….
Posted on July 12, 2006 - by Khaled
The Post-impressionist dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh, considered among the best painters ever, has a special kind of art that is recognizable from the first glance. Van Gogh has this chaotic touch in his paintings, indicating, may be, what’s going on in his mind. You all probably know this! So why am I talking about him now? what’s new? Well in fact I’ve read yesterday an article about him on Nature.com.
Well it says that Van Gogh was not only a great painter or an outstanding artist but also a genius Physicist! In fact a very recent mathematical analysis of Van Gogh’s paintings revealed that the patterns he was using for storms are painted in a manner that schematizes accurately real turbulences witnessed naturally in air or water swirls. Indeed Van Gogh’s art pieces have a pattern of light and dark that are closely imitating the deep mathematical structures of natural turbulent flows. This is true for many of his creations that he painted when his was suffering mental disturbances and psychotic problems that led to his suicide when he was 37.
Scientists tend to think that this is mainly due to Van Gogh’s psychotic issues that gave him the ability to represent turbulent flow with such big accuracy, as if he was understanding the physics of the phenomenon. Before he was mentally disturbed, Van Gogh was unable to retrace turbelences “correctly”, also whenever he painted under the influence of calming drugs (like Potassium Bromide) he was unable to depict flows the right way, this is obvious in his self-portrait for instance. It is amazing to know that a mentally ill genius Painter was able to represent flows whereas Scientists were unable to do so for centuries.
Digital copies of Van Gogh’s art were analysed and as a result, Kolmogorov scaling was detected. Many other “turbelent” paintings were analysed and Van Gogh seems to be the only artist that was able to detect and rerepresent turbulence flows with such mathematical accuracy and even showing a Kolmogorov scaling. Even Paintings inspired by Van Gogh’s style like The Scream painting by the norwegian painter Edward Munch, another mentally disturbed artist, don’t seem to render turbelence correctly and their light/dark probability distribution doesn’t fit in Kolmogorov’s concept.
Posted on May 7, 2006 - by Khaled
This is probably the first time we have such a robust evidence suggesting that intelligence, is significantly influenced by genetic factors, Scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, N.Y., and researchers at the Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics in Boston, think quite firmly that they have found a gene that seems to be influenceing intelligence.
It seems that the dysbindin-1 gene is associated to cognitive ability. They previously demonstrated that this gene was associated with schizophrenia, one of the most devastating mental illnesses.
One DNA sequence variation within the dysbindin-1 gene was significantly associated with lower general cognitive ability in carriers of the risk variant compared with non-carriers in two independent groups.
More to come about this for sure…
Posted on March 31, 2006 - by Khaled
So you fear spiders? roches? high places? you are claustrophobic? well this is good news for you. Medical swiss researchers have come up with a new therapy to ease your phobia symptoms. This is not for today but in a near future you will be able to defeat your fears with a small pill! Yes just one pill! Even better, researchers think that it may have permanent effects.
The cure contains a human hormone called cortisol, and that is produced naturally by the organism to subdue the panic responses in times of phobia, anxiety, stress or fear.
The research team leader, Dr. Dominique de Quervain -University of Zurich, Switzerland-, says: “This will never be a daily pill. But it could be used in combination with behavioural therapy.” Cortisol, which has a variety of effects on our body, is already used as a remedy for several chronic conditions. Side effects of daily use include changes in blood pressure and metabolism, and the risk of diabetes. On a long-term basis it could also affect Memory.