Zombie Genes and Other Wonders

In the midst of much craziness in the political world, here are a few treasures to remind us this is also a fascinating, awesomely beautiful place.

Hundreds of Genes Spring Back to Life in the Days After Death

The majority of these zombie genes were not random in terms of function. Each of them play an important role when an animal experiences some kind of trauma or illness. For example, some genes that were ramped up are responsible for stimulating inflammation and the immune system as well as for countering stress. Some genetic activity, like a gene that’s responsible for embryonic development, baffled the scientists. Noble suspects that this gene becomes active because the cellular environment in dead bodies must somehow resemble those found in embryos.

Importantly, several genes that promote cancer also became active. This may explain why many organ donor recipients develop cancer. This tidbit of information could help scientists develop better methods of organ preservation prior to transplantation.

Some of History’s Most Beautiful Combs Were Made for Lice Removal

“Most ancient combs are double-sided and have more teeth on one side than the other,” wrote Mumcuoglu and Zias. “The user would straighten his or her hair with the side that had the fewer teeth and then whisk away lice and louse eggs with the finer and more numerous teeth on the other side of the comb.”

Is ‘when we eat’ as important as ‘what we eat’?

Eating inconsistently may affect our internal body clock or ‘circadian rhythms’ which typically follow a 24-hour cycle. Many nutritionally related metabolic processes in the body follow a circadian pattern such as appetite, digestion and the metabolism of fat, cholesterol and glucose. Food intake can influence our internal clocks, particularly in organs such as the liver and intestine, whilst our central clock is also regulated by the dark/light cycle which in turn can affect food intake. Chrono-nutrition involves studying the impact of nutrition on metabolic processes and how these may be influenced by and also alter circadian patterns through nutrient intake (ir)regularity, frequency and clock time.

99m-year-old lizard trapped in amber could give clue to ‘lost ecosystem’

Scientists believe the chameleon-like creature was an infant when it was trapped in a gush of sticky resin while darting through a tropical forest in what is now Myanmar. The creature’s entire body, including its eyes and colorful scales, was unusually well-preserved, Stanley said. The other reptiles trapped in the amber, including a gecko and an arctic lizard, were also largely intact.

And finally, splendor from the heavens: three bright nebulae in the constellation Sagittarius.




Zombie Genes and Other Wonders — 2 Comments

  1. News tends to narrow the vision, especially when such intense emotions are involved. While in no way to take away from the validity and importance of those events, I think it’s important to remember that life contains much more than tragedy. There is curiosity and wonder and amazing science.