EssentialstheDiagonal is a personal blog by Mike Gerra, skeptic, technologist, psychologist, artist, humanist, collector of grand, eclectic ideas.theDiagonal blog connects the dots across multiple disciplines for inquisitive, objective and critical thinkers, exploring the vertices of big science, disruptive innovation, global sustainability, illuminating literature and leftfield art. It is on this diagonal that creativity thrives, big ideas take flight and reason triumphs.
Tag Archives: human
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Geneticists have discovered a gene that helps explain how humans and apes diverged from their common ancestor around 6 million years ago.
From the Guardian:
Researchers have discovered a new gene they say helps explain how humans evolved from chimpanzees.
The gene, called miR-941, appears to have played a crucial role in human brain development and could shed light on how we learned to use tools and language, according to scientists.
A team at the University of Edinburgh compared it to 11 other species of mammals, including chimpanzees, gorillas, mice and rats.
The results, published in Nature Communications, showed that the gene is unique to humans.
The team believe it emerged between six and one million years ago, after humans evolved from apes.
Researchers said it is the first time a new gene carried by humans and not by apes has been shown to have a specific function in the human body....read more
Thursday, July 19, 2012
The recent finding in a Spanish cave of a painted “red dot” dating from around 40,800 years ago suggests that our Neanderthal cousins may have beaten our species to claim the prize of “first artist”. Yet, evidence remains scant, and even if this were proven to be the case, we Homo sapiens can certainly lay claim to taking it beyond a “red dot” and making art our very own (and much else too.)
From the Guardian:
Why do Neanderthals so fascinate Homo sapiens? And why are we so keen to exaggerate their virtues?
It is political correctness gone prehistoric. At every opportunity, people rush to attribute “human” virtues to this extinct human-like species. The latest generosity is to credit them with the first true art....read more
Saturday, May 26, 2012
It takes no expert neuroscientist, anthropologist or evolutionary biologist to recognize that human evolution has probably stalled. After all, one only needs to observe our obsession with reality TV. Yes, evolution screeched to a halt around 1999, when reality TV hit critical mass in the mainstream public consciousness. So, what of evolution?
From the Wall Street Journal:
If you write about genetics and evolution, one of the commonest questions you are likely to be asked at public events is whether human evolution has stopped. It is a surprisingly hard question to answer.
I’m tempted to give a flippant response, borrowed from the biologist Richard Dawkins: Since any human trait that increases the number of babies is likely to gain ground through natural selection, we can say with some confidence that incompetence in the use of contraceptives is probably on the rise (though only if those unintended babies themselves thrive enough to breed in turn)....read more
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The iconic Tube Map showing London’s metropolitan, mostly subterranean subway system has inspired many artists and designers. Here’s another fascinating interpretation created by Sam Loman:
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Friday, November 4, 2011
The graphic below spotted over at Culture of Science puts humanity’s time on Earth into a truer, longer term perspective. The scale is condensed to 24 hours since the formation of our planet to the present time.
Image courtesy of the Geology department at University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011
Though ongoing human evolution is difficult to see, researchers believe they’ve found signs of rapid genetic changes among the recent residents of a small Canadian town.
Between 1800 and 1940, mothers in Ile aux Coudres, Quebec gave birth at steadily younger ages, with the average age of first maternity dropping from 26 to 22. Increased fertility, and thus larger families, could have been especially useful in the rural settlement’s early history.
According to University of Quebec geneticist Emmanuel Milot and colleagues, other possible explanations, such as changing cultural or environmental influences, don’t fit. The changes appear to reflect biological evolution....read more