Many Human Genes Evolved Recently, New Scientist
Excerpts: Human genes involved in metabolism, skin pigmentation, brain function and reproduction have evolved in response to recent environmental changes, according to a new study of natural selection in the human genome.
Researchers at the University of Chicago, US, developed a statistical test to find genomic regions that evolution has favoured over the last 15,000 years or so - when modern humans dealt with the end of the last ice age, the beginning of agriculture, and increased population densities.
Still Evolving, Human Genes Tell New Story, NY Times
Excerpts: Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years. The genes that show this evolutionary change include some responsible for the senses of taste and smell, digestion, bone structure, skin color and brain function.
Chimps Can Be Team Players, Selfless Helpers, Studies Show, National Geographic News
In the first study, researchers looked at altruistic behavior in both 18-month-old human infants and young chimpanzees (...)
Chimpanzees are skilled cooperators and can offer help without any benefit to themselves, according to a pair of new studies.
Photograph courtesy E. Herrmann, courtesy Science
Various scenes were acted out for the young in which an unknown adult had trouble achieving a goal, like reaching for an object or stacking books.
Ten different situations were presented to 24 infants and three human-reared chimpanzees. (...)
The results showed that almost all of the children¡X22 out of 24¡Xhelped at least once and did so almost immediately.
Behavior: Who Are More Helpful, Humans Or Chimpanzees?, Science
Excerpts: Evolutionary theory predicts that altruistic interactions, which are costly to the actor and beneficial to the recipient, will be limited to kin or reciprocating partners. This precludes anonymous acts of altruism on behalf of strangers, such as giving blood, or large-scale cooperation, such as serving on committees. Cooperation is equally perplexing to economists whose theorems are based on the principle of maximizing profit and self-interest, not concern for the welfare of others. Evolutionary theory and economic models provide a comfortable fit for the behavior of other animals (4, 5), including other highly social and intelligent members of the primate order (6), but humans stand out as a puzzling anomaly (1).
Altruistic Helping In Human Infants And Young Chimpanzees, Science
Excerpts: Human beings routinely help others to achieve their goals, even when the helper receives no immediate benefit and the person helped is a stranger. Such altruistic behaviors (toward non-kin) are extremely rare evolutionarily, with some theorists even proposing that they are uniquely human. Here we show that human children as young as 18 months of age (prelinguistic or just-linguistic) quite readily help others to achieve their goals in a variety of different situations.
Chimpanzees Recruit The Best Collaborators, Science
Excerpts: Humans collaborate with non-kin in special ways, but the evolutionary foundations of these collaborative skills remain unclear. We presented chimpanzees with collaboration problems in which they had to decide when to recruit a partner and which potential partner to recruit. In an initial study, individuals recruited a collaborator only when solving the problem required collaboration. In a second study, individuals recruited the more effective of two partners on the basis of their experience with each of them on a previous day.
Biochemistry: The Iceman Of Svalbard, Nature
Excerpts: Some say that life began in fire. Hauke Trinks thinks it began in ice, and is bent on taking the hard route to prove it.
Disease Surveillance Needs A Revolution, Nature
Excerpts: Bird flu has highlighted serious deficiencies in epidemiology.
Global Network Could Avert Pandemics, Nature
Excerpts: (...) if the virus becomes easily transmissible from person to person, we could face a devastating pandemic. To avert this, we must be able to quickly identify and contain avian influenza outbreaks, in birds and people, wherever they occur. This is challenging in developing countries, which often lack basic laboratories and epidemiologic capabilities. We are concerned that surveillance is weak in those countries that need it most.
(...) There is an existing model, based on a network of US military overseas laboratories, that we believe is worth copying.
The Origins of Research Into the Origins of Life, Endeavour
Excerpt: Most scientists at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century chose to ignore the question of the origin of life on Earth, regarding it as too mysterious and complex to handle. Yet, in the early 1950s an experimental field devoted to the study of the problem made its first steps. The pioneering theories of several scientists in the first decades of the 20th century played a major role in this transformation, notably those of the Russian biochemist Alexander I. Oparin and the British geneticist and biochemist J.B.S. Haldane. The ideas of the lesser-known American psycho-physiologist Leonard Troland also made a significant contribution to subsequent developments in origin-of-life research. (...)
Unintelligent Design, Discover
Excerpts: A monstrous discovery suggests that viruses, long regarded as lowly evolutionary latecomers, may have been the precursors of all life on Earth
(...) loose, tiny envelopes of molecules¡Xprotein-coated DNA or RNA¡Xthat inhabit some netherworld between life and nonlife. Viruses do not have cell membranes, as bacteria do; they are not even cells. (...) Their efficiency at doing so ranks them among the most fearsome killers: Ebola virus, HIV, smallpox, flu. Yet they go untouched by antibiotics, having nothing really biotic about them.
Eat Smart - Foods May Affect The Brain As Well As The Body, Science News
Excerpts: This is part two of a two-part series on lifestyle and brain fitness. Part I: "Buff and Brainy," is available at http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20060225/bob10.asp.
At family dinner tables around the globe, prodding mothers have dished out the same refrain for decades: "Eat your fish," they say. "It's brain food!" For children picking at crusty fish sticks or blobs of pink poached salmon, the statement raises suspicions. But the message is turning out to be more than just an attempt to get children to clean their plates. Recent research is suggesting that what you eat can influence the function of your brain.
Molecular Microscopy: Focus On The Living, Nature
Excerpts: Atomic force microscopes have revolutionized the study of materials, but probing watery biological systems has proved more difficult. Jenny Hogan asks whether a fix is at hand.
Robotic 'Pack Mule' Displays Stunning Reflexes, New Scientist
A nimble, four-legged robot is so surefooted it can recover its balance even after being given a hefty kick. The machine, which moves like a cross between a goat and a pantomime horse, is being developed as a robotic pack mule for the US military.
A robotic beast of burden, BigDog can carry upwards of 40 kilograms - perfect to take the weight off a tired soldier (Image: Boston Dynamics)
BigDog is described by its developers Boston Dynamics as ¡§the most advanced quadruped robot on Earth¡¨. The company have released a new video of the robot negotiating steep slopes, crossing rocky ground and dealing with the sharp kick. (...)
The official name of this storm is "Oval BA," but "Red Jr." might be better. It's about half the size of the famous Great Red Spot and almost exactly the same color.
Red spots on Jupiter, photographed by amateur astronomer Christopher Go on Feb. 27, 2006
Oval BA first appeared in the year 2000 when three smaller spots collided and merged. Using Hubble and other telescopes, astronomers watched with great interest. A similar merger centuries ago may have created the original Great Red Spot, a storm twice as wide as our planet and at least 300 years old.
Device Physics: Electrical Solitons Come Of Age, Nature
Excerpts: Individual packets of light energy, known as optical solitons, have long been the darlings of communications engineers. Finally, their electrical siblings are getting a look in ¡X and could become the new favourites.
Digital communication systems seem so robust that many of us take their reliability as an axiom of modern life. That reassuring fa?ade, however, belies a surprising fragility: in practical communication systems, impairments of a distinctly analogue nature can affect the propagation of digital pulses. Nonlinear effects, for instance, (...) distort the signal's shape.
'Nano Skins' Show Promise As Flexible Electronic Devices, Innovations-report
Excerpts: A team of researchers has developed a new process to make flexible, conducting 'nano skins' for a variety of applications, from electronic paper to sensors for detecting chemical and biological agents. The materials, (...) combine the strength and conductivity of carbon nanotubes with the flexibility of traditional polymers. "Researchers have long been interested in making composites of nanotubes and polymers, but it can be difficult to engineer the interfaces between the two materials (...).We have found a way to get arrays of nanotubes into a soft polymer matrix without disturbing the shape, size, or alignment of the nanotubes." (...)
Objects That Make Objects: The Population Dynamics Of Structural Complexity, Interface
Excerpts: To analyse the evolutionary emergence of structural complexity in physical processes, we introduce a general, but tractable, model of objects that interact to produce new objects. Since the objects (...) have well-defined structural properties, we demonstrate that complexity in the resulting population dynamical system emerges on several distinct organizational scales during evolution-from individuals to nested levels of mutually self-sustaining interaction. The evolution to increased organization is dominated by the spontaneous creation of structural hierarchies and this, in turn, is facilitated by the innovation and maintenance of relatively low-complexity, but general individuals.
Hierarchical Self-Organization in the Finitary Process Soup, arXiv
Abstract: Current analyses of genomes from numerous species show that the diversity of organism's functional and behavioral characters is not proportional to the number of genes that encode the organism. We investigate the hypothesis that the diversity of organismal character is due to hierarchical organization. We do this with the recently introduced model of the finitary process soup, which allows for a detailed mathematical and quantitative analysis of the population dynamics of structural complexity. Here we show that global complexity in the finitary process soup is due to the emergence of successively higher levels of organization, that the hierarchical structure appears spontaneously, and that the process of structural innovation is facilitated by the discovery and maintenance of relatively noncomplex, but general individuals in a population.
Excerpts: Viktor Koen's clockwork apple was intended as a visual metaphor for the principle of emergence in complex systems, as an expression of the saying "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts." The apple illustrated a review by Keay Davidson of the 2005 book A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down, by physicist Robert B. Laughlin, published in the New York Times Book Review June 19, 2005. The review notes that Laughlin's discussion of emergence employs a visual analogy¡Xthe dabs of paint in impressionist paintings, which organize into familiar shapes when viewed from a distance. The choice and crafting of a visual metaphor or analogy can be an analytical process as well as an aid to communicating ideas.
Contributed by T. Irene Sanders
The Relationship Between Social Behavior And Emergent Literacy, J. Appl. Dev. Psycho.
Excerpt: The purpose of the present study was to investigate relationships between social behaviors and emergent literacy among young children, and sex differences in these relationships. Participants were 123 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse preschoolers (63 girls, 60 boys). Social behaviors were observed in classrooms, and emergent literacy skills were assessed with standardized tests. Among boys, difficulties with emergent literacy were associated with aggressive misbehavior and fewer prosocial interactions, while neither of these relationships was observed for girls. Emergent literacy difficulties in both boys and girls were related to higher levels of solitary play and more frequent displays of negative affect. (...)
Where Killers Roam, The Poison Spreads, NY Times
Excerpts: For more than two years, the world has pretty much ignored the genocide unfolding in the Darfur region of Sudan, just as it turned away from the slaughter of Armenians, Jews, Cambodians and Rwandans in earlier decades.
And now, apparently encouraged by the world's acquiescence, Sudan is sending its proxy forces to invade neighboring Chad and kill and rape members of the same African tribes that have already been ethnically cleansed in Darfur itself.
Complexity Science On Capitol Hill: A 21st-Century Policy Design Tool, Catalyst Inst News Release
Excerpts: Our increasingly networked society is an elaborate patchwork of countless entities whose interaction often produce unexpected outcomes. As a result of this advancing environmental complexity, 21st century decision-making and effective policy design are formidable tasks. Fortunately, a new science is emerging that provides an entirely new conceptual and analytical framework for understanding these policy challenges.
Careers In Systems Biology: Working The Systems, Science
Excerpts: Systems biology seeks to connect the dots between molecular data. It's a hot career field, but success requires making connections between disciplines (...)
(...) the new field brings together physiologists, molecular biologists, biochemists, computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, physicists, and a few other specialists and encourages them to work together to look beyond individual genes and proteins to a holistic view of whole systems--like the view that dominated biology before the advent of molecular biology. But systems biology adds insights and an arsenal of techniques developed over the past half-century.
Complex Challenges: Global Terrorist Network
Deterring Terrorism: It Can Be Done, Int. Security
Excerpts: Many scholars and policymakers argue that deterrence strategies have no significant role to play in counterterrorism. The case against deterrence rests on three pillars: terrorists are irrational; they value their political ends far above anything deterring states could hold at risk; and they are impossible to find. Each pillar is either incorrect or its implications for deterrence have been misunderstood. Under certain conditions, deterrence is preferable to the use of force. Analysis of the structure of terrorist networks and the processes that produce attacks, (...), suggests that some deterrence strategies are more effective than those of the past.(...)
America 'Has Failed To Learn From Abu Ghraib', Times Online
Excerpts: America was today accused of failing to learn the lessons of Abu Ghraib by continuing to hold thousands of Iraqi detainees in conditions that breached their human rights.
Amnesty International, the London-based rights watchdog, criticised coalition forces and the Iraqi Government for holding security suspects for months without trial and allowing them to be routinely abused.
Lawmaker: Port Deal Never Probed For Terror Ties, CNN
Excerpts: A review of a United Arab Emirates-owned company's plan to take over operations at key U.S. ports never looked into whether the company had ties to al Qaeda or other terrorists, (...).
(...) officials from the Homeland Security and Treasury departments told him weeks ago that their 30-day review of the deal did not look into the question of links between DP World and al Qaeda.
"I can't emphasize this enough," (...). "There is no investigation into terrorism whatsoever on this contract."
US Recruits Sharks In War On Terror, vnunet.com
Excerpts: Scientists working for the US military have developed brain implants that could control sharks remotely and use them as spies. A team from Boston University has developed electrodes that can be implanted in dogfish, which are genetically very similar to sharks, and use them to control the shark's responses. The electrodes simulate smells in the water and can be used to guide the animal around its tank using a wireless laptop. (...) the next step will be to implant the device into blue sharks and release them into the ocean off the coast of Florida. (...)
Stealth Sharks To Patrol The High Seas, New Scientist
Excerpts: Imagine getting inside the mind of a shark: swimming silently through the ocean, sensing faint electrical fields, homing in on the trace of a scent, and navigating through the featureless depths for hour after hour.
We may soon be able to do just that via electrical probes in the shark's brain. Engineers funded by the US military have created a neural implant designed to enable a shark's brain signals to be manipulated remotely, controlling the animal's movements, and perhaps even decoding what it is feeling.
Links & Snippets
- Ioannis Miaoulis Profile: A Passion for Teaching Leads to Engineering Change in Schools, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, 06/03/03, Science : 1237-1238. Disturbed by a curriculum that contained "so much about flowers and rocks and nothing about planes and power plants," Miaoulis started a statewide campaign to introduce engineering concepts into schools.
- Surface Self-Organization Caused by Dislocation Networks, Konrad Th?rmer, Robert Q. Hwang, Norman C. Bartelt, 06/03/03, Science : 1272-1274. The organization of silver ions on a ruthenium surface depends on dislocations below the surface and not on strain or surface tension as had been thought.
- Toward Automatic Reconstruction of a Highly Resolved Tree of Life, Francesca D. Ciccarelli, Tobias Doerks, Christian von Mering, Christopher J. Creevey, Berend Snel, Peer Bork, 06/03/03, Science: 1283-1287. We have developed an automatable procedure for reconstructing the tree of life with branch lengths comparable across all three domains.
- Combined Analog and Action Potential Coding in Hippocampal Mossy Fibers, Henrik Alle, J?rg R. P. Geiger, 06/03/03, Science : 1290-1293. Synapses at one end of a neuron can be affected by graded synaptic currents at the other end, 0.5 millimeters away, suggesting that analog information is unexpectedly used in the brain.
- Exact Law Of Live Nature in The Logistic Map And The Route To Chaos: From The Beginnings To Modern Applications, 10, M. Ausloos, M. Dirickx (Eds), M. Ya. Azbel, 2006, Understanding Complex Systems, Springer, DOI: 10.1007/3-540-32023-7_10
- Mauritian Coloured Nectar No Longer A Mystery: A Visual Signal For Lizard Pollinators, D. M. Hansen, K. Beer, C. B. Müller, 2006/03/01, Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0458
- Novel Chemistry Of Invasive Exotic Plants, N. Cappuccino, J. T. Arnason, 2006/03/01, Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0433
- The Evolution Of Right- And Left-Handedness, 2006/03/01, ScienceDaily & University of Chicago Press Journals
- Complicating In Order To Simplify: New Twist In Classical Mechanics Finds Way Around 225-year-old Paradox, 2006/03/01, ScienceDaily & University of Southern California
- Classic Illusion Sheds New Light On The Neural Site Of Tactile Perception, 2006/03/01, ScienceDaily & Public Library of Science
- EU Plans Research Institute: R&D Investment Crucial To European Growth, Says Commission, S. Arnott, 2006/03/02, vnunet.com & Computing
- The Neurobiology Of Painting, R. Bradley, A. Harris, P. Jenner (Eds), 2006/03/31, Book Announcement, Imprint: Academic Press
- Clocking The Mind: Mental Chronometry And Individual Differences, A. R. Jensen, 2006/04/20, Book Announcement, Imprint: Elsevier Science
- The Human Body As Field Of Conflict Between Discourses, G. K. Kimsma - gk.kimsmavumc.nl, E. van Leeuwen - e.van_leeuwen.pmemed.vu.nl, Dec. 2005, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, DOI: 10.1007/s11017-005-2205-y
- Success Matters: Casualty Sensitivity And The War In Iraq, C. Gelpi, P. D. Feaver, J. Reifler, Winter 2005-06, International Security
Ralph Abraham on Complexity Digest, , Calcutta, India, 05/12/27
- An Afternoon with Michael Crichton, Washington, 05/11/06
Illuminating the Shadow of the Future, Ann Arbor, Mi 05/09/23-25
Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems - Brainstorming Meeting, Paris, France 05/09/19-23
Complexity, Science & Society Conference 2005, U. Liverpool, UK 2005/09/11-14
ECAL 2005 - VIIIth European Conference on Artificial Life,
Canterbury, Kent, UK 2005/09/5-9
T. Irene Sanders, Executive Director and Founder, The Washington Center for Complexity & Public Policy, 05/08/27, QuickTime video (10:38 min), Podcast
- North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity 2005 Conference, Virtual Conference Network, St. Pete's Beach, Florida, 05/06/09-11
- Understanding Complex Systems - Computational Complexity and Bioinformatics, Virtual Conference Network, Urbana-Champaign, Il, UIUC, 05/05/16-19
- Nonlinearity, Fluctuations, and Complexity, with a celebration of the 65th birthday of Gregoire Nicolis. , Complexity Session, Universite' Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, 05/03/16
- World Economic Forum , Davos, Switzerland, 05/01/26-30
1st European Conference on Complex Systems, Torino, Italy, 04/12/5-7
From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology: A Tribute to Francisco Varela (1946-2001), Paris, France, 2004/06/18-20
Evolutionary Epistemology, Language, and Culture, Brussels, Belgium, 04/05/26-28
International Conference on Complex Systems 2004, Boston, 04/05/16-21
Nonlinear Dynamics And Chaos: Lab Demonstrations, Strogatz, Steven H., Internet-First University Press, 1994
- CERN Webcast Service, Streamed videos of Archived Lectures and Live Events
- Dean LeBaron's Archive of Daily Video Commentary, Ongoing Since February 1998
- Edge Videos
- EXYSTENCE Course on Complexity in Real-World Systems & Their Simulations: Simulation serving science and decision making in a complex world , Torino, Italy, 06/03/13-25
Work, Dissipation, And Fluctuations In Nonequilibrium Physics, Brussels, Belgium, 06/03/22-25
Spring School in Complexity Science, Southampton, UK, 06/03/29-04/12
ZUMA Advanced Simulation Workshop, Koblenz, April 3-7, 2006
- 18th European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research (EMCSR), Vienna, Austria, 06/04/18-21
5th Intl Joint Conf on Autonomous Agents And Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2006)
Future University, Hakodate, Japan, )6/05/08-12
- Nonlinearities: from Turbulent to Magic,
Copenhagen, Denmark. 06/05/17-20
- Alife X - The 10th Intl Conf on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems,Bloomington, Indiana, 06/06/03-07
Intl. Conference on Complex Systems Boston, MA, 06/06/25-30
1st Intl Conf on Economic Sciences with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, Univ of Bologna, Italy, 06/06/15-17
NKS 2006: The Wolfram Science Conference, Washington, D.C., 06/06/16-18
Intl Conf on Complex Systems (ICCS), Boston, Ma, 06/06/25-30
11th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Lausanne, Switzerland, 06/07/05-08
2006 Genetic And Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO-2006),
Seattle, Washington, USA, 06/07/08-12
- Intl Soc for the Systems Sciences
50th Ann Conf - Complexity, Democracy & Sustainability, Sonoma, California, 06/07/09-14
- Toward Social Mechanisms of Android Science, An ICCS Symposium co-located at CogSci 2006, Vancouver , Canada, 06/07/26
5th World Congress of Biomechanics, Munich, Germany, 06/07/29-08/04
50th Anniversary Summit of AI, Monte Verita, Switzerland, 06/07/09-14
FIAS Summer School - Theoretical Neuroscience & Complex Systems, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 06/08/05-27
2006 Intl Conf on Nonlinear Science and Complexity, Beijing, China, 06/08/07-12
Symmetry Festival 2006, Symmetry in Art and Science Education, Budapest, Hungary, 06/08/12-18
6th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, Marina Del Rey, Ca, U.S.A., 06/08/21-23
- World Conference on Social Simulation (WCSS-06) , Kyoto, Japan, 06/08/21-25
7th Intl Symposium on Knowledge and Systems
Sciences (KSS'2006), Beijing, 06/09/22-25.
European Conference on Complex Systems 2006 (ECCS'06), Oxford, England, 06/09/25-29
FROM ANIMALS TO ANIMATS 9, The Ninth Intl Conf on the SIMULATION OF ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR (SAB'06), Roma, Italy, 06/09/25-30
6th Intl Conf on Simulated Evolution and Learning , Hefei,
3rd International Workshop on Complexity and Philisophy, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 07/02/22-23
Call for Papers - Course/Book Announcements
- Chaos and Complexity
Resources for Students and Teachers, 06/03/01
MSc Complexity Science: Systems Thinking from New Biology to Novel Computation, Southampton, UK
Volume Four Complexity and Knowledge Management: Understanding the Role of Knowledge in the Management of Social Networks, ISCE Managing the Complex Book Series
- New Issue of
Emergence: Complexity & Organization (E:CO), Volume 7 Numbers 3 & 4, 2005
Special Double Issue: Complexity and Storytelling
Guest Editors: Ken Baskin & David Boje was published online.