LIFE

Urban Evolution

Topic: 

  • LIFE
https://vimeo.com/209767757

We realize evolution can occur very rapidly. Yet, despite this realization, very few people have taken the next logical step to consider what's happening around us, where we live. Think about the animals that live just around you. Look out your window in your backyard. . . . All the animals living around us are facing new environments, coping with new food, new structures, new places to hide, and in many cases new temperatures. These are radically different environments.

Urban Evolution

How Species Adapt, or Don't, to City Living
[3.31.17]

We realize evolution can occur very rapidly. Yet, despite this realization, very few people have taken the next logical step to consider what's happening around us, where we live. Think about the animals that live just around you. Look out your window in your backyard. . . . All the animals living around us are facing new environments, coping with new food, new structures, new places to hide, and in many cases new temperatures. These are radically different environments. If, as we now believe, natural selection causes populations to adapt to new conditions, why shouldn't it be happening to those species living around us in the very new conditions?
 
JONATHAN B. LOSOS is the Monique and Philip Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America and Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and Curator in Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. He is the author of Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of EvolutionJonathan B. Losos's Edge Bio Page
 

Why We're Different

Topic: 

  • LIFE
https://vimeo.com/165217837

What we're trying to do in behavioral genetics and medical genetics is explain differences. It's important to know that we all share approximately 99 percent of our DNA sequence. If we sequence, as we can now readily do, all of our 3 billion base pairs of DNA, we will be the same at over 99 percent of all those bases. That's what makes us similar to each other. It makes us similar to chimps and most mammals. We're over 90 percent similar to all mammals. There's a lot of genetic similarity that's important from an evolutionary perspective, but it can't explain why we're different.

Why We're Different

[6.29.16]

What we're trying to do in behavioral genetics and medical genetics is explain differences. It's important to know that we all share approximately 99 percent of our DNA sequence. If we sequence, as we can now readily do, all of our 3 billion base pairs of DNA, we will be the same at over 99 percent of all those bases. That's what makes us similar to each other. It makes us similar to chimps and most mammals. We're over 90 percent similar to all mammals. There's a lot of genetic similarity that's important from an evolutionary perspective, but it can't explain why we're different. That's what we're up to, trying to explain why some children are reading disabled, or some people become schizophrenic, or why some people suffer from alcoholism, et cetera. We're always talking about differences. The only genetics that makes a difference is that 1 percent of the 3 billion base pairs. But that is over 10 million base pairs of DNA. We're looking at these differences and asking to what extent they cause the differences that we observe. 

ROBERT PLOMIN is a professor of behavioral genetics at King's College London and deputy director of the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. Robert Plomin's Edge Bio Page

The Augmented Human Being

Topic: 

  • LIFE
https://vimeo.com/151790708

There are now 2000 gene therapies where you’ll take a little piece of engineered DNA, put it inside of a viral coat so all the viral genes are gone, and you can put in, say, a human gene or you can have nonviral delivery, but the important thing is that you’re delivering it either inside of the human or you’re taking cells out of the human and putting the DNA in and then putting them back in. But you can do very powerful things like curing inherited diseases, curing infectious diseases.                                 

Power Over Nature

Topic: 

  • LIFE
https://vimeo.com/157194346

The big story of the 20th and the 21st century is that we’re learning to control the world better. With the development of quantum mechanics, we understand the fundamental principles of what matter is and how it behaves that’s adequate for all engineering purposes.                                 

LIFE

The "Best of Edge" Book Series
[3.14.16]

CONTENTS: Evolvability  Richard Dawkins  Genomic Imprinting  David Haig  A Full-Force Storm with Gale Winds Blowing  Robert Trivers  What Evolution Is  Ernst Mayr  Genetics Plus Time  Steve Jones  A United Biology  E. O. Wilson  Is Life Analog or Digital?  Freeman Dyson  Life: What a Concept!  Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Dimitar Sasselov, Seth Lloyd, Robert Shapiro  The Gene-Centric View: A Conversation  Richard Dawkins, J. Craig Venter  The Nature of Normal Human Variety Armand Marie Leroi  Brains Plus Brawn  Daniel Lieberman  Mapping the Neanderthal Genome  Svante Pääbo  On Biocomputation  J. Craig Venter, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks  Engineering Biology  Drew Endy  Eat Me Before I Eat You: A New Foe for Bad Bugs  Kary Mullis  Duck Sex and Aesthetic Evolution  Richard Prum  Toxo Robert Sapolsky  The Adjacent Possible Stuart Kauffman (with an introduction by John Brockman)   

Image Map

Power Over Nature

New Phenomena That Will Change and Enrich Our Understanding of Fundamentals
[4.20.16]


The big story of the 20th and the 21st century is that we’re learning to control the world better. With the development of quantum mechanics, we understand the fundamental principles of what matter is and how it behaves that’s adequate for all engineering purposes.                                 

The limitation is just our imagination and our ability to calculate the consequences of the laws. We’re getting better at both of those as we gain experience. We have more imagination. As computing develops, we learn how to calculate the consequences of the laws better and better. There’s also a feedback cycle: when you understand matter better, you can design better computers, which will enable you to calculate better. It's kind of an ascending helix.

FRANK WILCZEK, currently the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at MIT, has received many prizes for his work in physics, including the Nobel Prize (2004) for work he did as a graduate student at Princeton University. Frank Wilczek's Edge Bio Page

The Genomic Ancient DNA Revolution

Topic: 

  • LIFE
https://vimeo.com/153702765

My experience collaborating with Svante since 2007, has been that the data we’ve looked at from the incredible samples they have has yielded surprise after surprise. Nobody had ever gotten to look at data like this before. First, there were the Neanderthals, and then there was this pinky bone from Southern Siberia. At the end of the Neanderthal project, Svante told me we have this amazing genome-wide data from another archaic human, from a little pinky bone of a little girl from a Southern Siberian cave, and asked if I'd like to get involved in analyzing it.

The Genomic Ancient DNA Revolution

A New Way to Investigate the Past
[2.1.16]


My experience collaborating with Svante since 2007, has been that the data we’ve looked at from the incredible samples they have has yielded surprise after surprise. Nobody had ever gotten to look at data like this before. First, there were the Neanderthals, and then there was this pinky bone from Southern Siberia. At the end of the Neanderthal project, Svante told me we have this amazing genome-wide data from another archaic human, from a little pinky bone of a little girl from a Southern Siberian cave, and asked if I'd like to get involved in analyzing it.

When we analyzed it, it was an incredible surprise: This individual was not a Neanderthal. They were in fact much more distantly related to a Neanderthal than any two humans are today from each other, and it was not a modern human. It was some very distant cousin of a Neanderthal that was living in Siberia in Central Asia at the time that this girl lived.

When we analyzed the genome of this little girl, we saw that she was related to people in New Guinea and Australia. A person related to her had contributed about 5 percent of the genomes to people in New Guinea and Australia and related people—an interbreeding event nobody had known about before. It was completely unexpected. It wasn’t in anybody’s philosophy or anybody’s prediction. It was a new event that was driven by the data and not by people’s presuppositions or previous ideas.

This is what ancient DNA does for us. When you look at the data, it doesn’t always just play into one person’s theory or the other; it doesn’t just play into the Indo-European steppe hypothesis or the Anatolian hypothesis. Sometimes it raises something completely new, like the Denisovan finger bone and the interbreeding of a gene flow from Denisovans into Australians and New Guineans. 

DAVID REICH is a geneticist and professor in the Department of Genetics at the Harvard Medical School. David Reich's Edge Bio Page

THE REALITY CLUB


ROBERT TRIVERS
​Evolutionary Biologist; Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University; Author, Wild Life: Adventures of an Evolutionary Biologist

Absolutely superb ancient genomics Edge piece: Reich is riveting. I know most of the work—I teach a course on Human Evolutionary Genetics—but I knew nothing about the degree of Indian genetic admixture, for example, most fascinating as it interacts with wide-scale cousin marriages, themselves associated with such horrors as “honor killings.” As such, the very large sample sizes that genetics easily generates can then be analyzed for ancient components in ways that are often astonishing.

How else would we know that Neanderthal gene admixture of at least 40,000 years ago (~3% of all genes in modern Euro-Asian populations) is associated with 1) light skin tone, 2) blue eyes, 3) straight hair, and 4) novel parasite-resistant genes to the level possibly of allergies?! God bless archaeology and paleo-anthropology, but genomics can now tell us more about what was going on in Yorobu-land 8500 years ago and Europe 10000 years ago than can these fields. Indeed, genomics can give us a far broader picture as well, showing recently that there was modest human genetic admixture into Neanderthals some 100,000 years and some slight movement of modern human genes back into northern Africa some 4000 years ago. Of course as Reich makes clear, integration of genetics with linguistics and other fields is most helpful but genomics will continue to get much more powerful quickly, dominating other forms of evidence, whenever there is conflict.


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