High-resolution mapping of the epigenome has discovered unique patterns that emerge during the generation of brain circuitry in childhood. While the ‘genome’ can be thought of as the instruction manual that contains the blueprints (genes) for all of the components of our cells and our body, the ‘epigenome’ can be thought of as an additional layer of information on top of our genes that change the way they are used. […]The frontal cortex is made up of distinct types of cells, such as neurons and glia, which each perform very different functions. However, we know that these distinct types of cells in the brain all contain the same genome sequence; the A, C, G and T ‘letters’ of the DNA code that provides the instructions to build the cell; so how can they each have such different identities? The answer lies in a secondary layer of information that is written on top of the DNA of the genome, referred to as the ‘epigenome’. One component of the epigenome, called DNA methylation, consists of small chemical tags that are placed upon some of the C letters in the genome. These tags alert the cell to treat the tagged DNA differently and change the way it is read, for example causing a nearby gene to be turned off. [EurekAlert]
The Terminal Event Management Policy is an official policy of Wikipedia detailing the procedures to be followed to safeguard the content of the encyclopedia in the event of a non-localized event that would render the continuation of Wikipedia in its current form untenable. [Wikipedia]
The objective of this study was to determine test characteristics (i.e., intra- and interobserver variability, intra-assay variability, sensitivity, and specificity) of an evaluation of odor from vaginal discharge (VD) of cows in the first 10 days postpartum conducted by olfactory cognition and an electronic device, respectively. […] The study revealed a considerable subjectivity of the human nose concerning the classification into healthy and sick animals based on the assessment of vaginal discharge. [Journal of Dairy Science]
The hero in martial arts movies usually steps in when a passive victim is picked on by a gang of thugs. However a new study finds that in real life, third parties are most likely to intervene in conflict situations when the incident involves mutual aggression between drunk men.
We’ve all experienced the sense of being familiar with somebody without knowing their name or even having spoken to them. These so-called “familiar strangers” are the people we see everyday on the bus on the way to work, in the sandwich shop at lunchtime or in the local restaurant or supermarket in the evening. But while many researchers have studied the network of intentional links between individuals—using mobile phone records for example—little work has been on these unintentional links which form a kind of hidden social network. Today, that changes thanks to the work of Lijun Sun at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore and a few pals who have analysed the passive interactions between 3 million residents on Singapore’s bus network (about 55 per cent of the city’s population). […] Study revealed that about 85 per cent of these repeated encounters happen at the same time of day and that individuals were more likely to encounter familiar strangers in the morning than the afternoon. [The Physics arXiv Blog]
Standard IQ tests are problematic on many levels — not least, because they do very little to tell us about the quality of our thinking. Looking to overcome this oversight, psychologist Keith Stanovich has started to work on the first-ever Rationality Quotient test. [IEET]
An executive at Tiffany & Co. allegedly stole $1.3 million worth of jewelry from the company. How did she do it? Very slowly, it seems. Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, worked as the vice president of product development at the jeweler’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters from January 2011 to February of this year, when her position was terminated due to downsizing. […] “She was careful to only keep items that were valued at under $10,000.” […] “Tiffany’s has a policy of only investigating missing inventory that’s valued over $25,000. […] Ice-T (né Tracy Marrow), the longtime rapper, actor, and former professional jewel thief, suspects that Lederhaas-Okun may have had a buyer in advance. [Bloomberg]
Horne, a raisin farmer, has been breaking the law for 11 solid years. He now owes the U.S. government at least $650,000 in unpaid fines. And 1.2 million pounds of unpaid raisins, roughly equal to his entire harvest for four years. His crime? Horne defied one of the strangest arms of the federal bureaucracy — a farm program created to solve a problem during the Truman administration, and never turned off. […] It works like this: In a given year, the government may decide that farmers are growing more raisins than Americans will want to eat. That would cause supply to outstrip demand. Raisin prices would drop. And raisin farmers might go out of business. To prevent that, the government does something drastic. It takes away a percentage of every farmer’s raisins. Often, without paying for them. These seized raisins are put into a government-controlled “reserve” and kept off U.S. markets. [Washington Post]
Raising chickens in backyard coops is all the rage with nostalgia-loving hipsters but apparently the facial hair obsessed faux farmers often don’t realize that raising hens is loud, labor intensive work because animal shelters are now inundated with hundreds of unwanted urban fowl. From California to New York, animal shelters are having a hard time coping with the hundreds of chickens being dropped off, sometimes dozens at a time, by bleary-eyed pet owners who might not have realized that chickens lay eggs for only two years but live for a decade or more. [NY Post]
I can pinpoint the exact date our nation’s obesity epidemic began. The day that drinking straws got bigger.
A group in California is starting to engineer glow-in-the-dark trees that could one day replace streetlights. “The big challenge with the trees is that trees take a long time to grow.”
Much nonsense is talked about Shakespeare not writing his plays, but more interesting questions remain: who edited the First Folio? And were substantial changes made?
In Kafka’s “On Parables” a skeptic says that the abstruse words of the sages cannot really solve the real-life problems we face, since we can never actually “go over” into that fully spiritual realm these words point to. A sage responds by saying (parabolically) that we can overcome all these real-life problems simply by ourselves “becoming parables.” [Comparative Literature and Culture | PDF]
Random House and Penguin merging to become the world’s largest books publisher with an estimated revenue of $4 billion, the aftershocks have started. The new entity, eager to cut cost and streamline operations, has asked author Vikram Seth to return his $1.7 million advance, a part of which was paid to him for A Suitable Girl, the ‘jumpsequel’ to his best-selling novel, A Suitable Boy. Seth, one of the world’s bestloved writers, was scheduled to submit his manuscript this June but has been unable to do so, leading to the publishers’ demarche. […] “It’s possible that Vikram Seth has not started on the book or that it’s nowhere close to completion, which explains the move.” [Mumbai Mirror]
Amerigo Vespucci (1454 – 1512) was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer who first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia’s eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus’ voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to Afro-Eurasians. Colloquially referred to as the New World, this second super continent came to be termed “America,” probably deriving its name from the feminized Latin version of Vespucci’s first name. [Wikipedia]
Look around the room you are sitting in now. How many right angles can you see? Book-spines, the ceiling, picture frames, door panels, the capital T and L at the bottom of this page, this page itself. Vision is a form of cognition: the kinds of things we see shape the ways we think. That is why it is so hard to imagine the visual experience of our prehistoric ancestors, or, for that matter, the girls of nineteenth-century Malawi, who lived in a world without right angles. Inhabitants of, say, late Neolithic Orkney would only have seen a handful of perpendicular lines a day: tools, shaped stones, perhaps some simple geometric decoration on a pot. For the most part, their world was curved: circular buildings, round tombs, stone circles, rounded clay vessels. [TLS]