Current Event Summaries by Mofei W.

5 Responses to Current Event Summaries by Mofei W.

  1. mofei says:

    Here’s where Earth stores it’s carbon
    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/where-earth-stores-its-carbon
    Maria Temming
    October 1, 2019

    Human driven carbon pollution has a big impact on global climate, like bleaching corals to melting ice caps. However, the Earth has an ever bigger amount of carbon stockpiled below. About 43,000 billion tons of carbon is found above ground. 1.845 billion billion tons are found in Earth’s mantle and crust. So, the majority is stored inside the planet. Since all life (on Earth at least) is carbon based, the amount of carbon above ground includes the carbon inside life forms. Currently, humans are heavily emitting carbon. Human driven emissions, like cars and burning fuels, have released enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

    In class, we learned about the elements and about how carbon was important to life. It is also relevant to the problems we face today. Greenhouse gasses are a big problem. Humans have polluted the atmosphere greatly. Carbon dioxide is a very harmful gas to the atmosphere, as it absorbs energy and just stays there. Humans can do very little to get it out. It is also contributing to global warming and climate change. It is especially relevant right now, because of Greta Thunberg and all that drama. I read stuff about her in the news, and she’s made quite an impact.

  2. mofei says:

    Fruit flies live longer with combination drug treatment
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190930161857.htm
    Jorge Iván Castillo-Quan, Luke S Tain, Kerri J Kinghorn
    Science Daily
    September 30, 2019
    University College London

    Studies suggest using a combination of three drugs will be able to help prevent age related diseases in humans. The three drugs are lithium, trametinib, and rapamycin. Lithium is currently used as a mood stabiliser, trametinib as a cancer treatment, and rapamycin as an immune system regulator. Right now, scientists are studying fruit flies and the effects of these drugs. However, fruit flies age more rapidly than people. Using one of the three drugs on a fruit fly increased lifespan by an average of 11%, while using two extended the span by about 30%. Using all three, the fly lives 48% longer than untreated flies. A fruit fly’s lifespan is 40-50 days, but if it was scaled up to a human’s lifespan, that would be very significant. However, we don’t know if it will be the same for the human body. They will be studying it’s effects of mice next, and then possibly human trials.

    Like many other people, I want to live a long healthy life. This could be the key to extending the human lifespan, or at least keeping the elderly healthy when they become older. In lots of sci-fi books or movies, there are people who are hundreds of years old (though cryogenics doesn’t really relate here). Authors imagine in the future, the average human lifespan will be extended by medical advances and technological advances. One hundred years ago, people lived a lot shorter. Mostly this was because of bad hygiene and diseases. These three drugs slow down aging processes and keep the body healthy from age related diseases, which will inevitably lead to earlier death.

  3. mofei says:

    Disabling one protein might one day lead to a cure for the common cold
    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/common-cold-virus-disable-protein
    Sofie Bates
    September 24, 2019

    Researchers have found a protein in humans that viruses use to multiply. Usually the approach is to attack the virus itself. Instead, disabling the protein might be able to stop the virus from multiplying. Colds are the most infectious disease in humans. Yet there is actually no cure for the common cold. Researchers at Stanford and University of California decided to take a different approach. They basically used dna and infected it with viruses. Then, they “guessed and checked” by pulling out different proteins that the virus interacted with. SETD3 was identified the most. It affects acting proteins, which helps muscles contract. When scientists injected viruses into mice without the SETD3 gene, the mice didn’t get sick. However, there were other affects. The mice without SETD3 had trouble pushing pups out of the womb during birth, which relates to the role SETD3 has in muscle contractions. Scientists aren’t sure what it will do to the human body.

    I think having a cure to the cold would be really useful. Everyone hates being sick, and the most common is the cold. I recently had one and I had to miss a lot of school and make up a lot of work. Based on personal experience, I would say having a cure would be great. However, the method the scientists have found here still needs a lot of work. It’s about completely modifying your body’s genes, which sounds really scary. And then ethics come into play. If we can modify this gene, how about other ones? Also, removing this gene may have side affects. I think a good idea is somehow blocking the protein or protecting it when sick, instead of removing it completely.

  4. mofei says:

    Ancient DNA reveals the first glimpse of what a Denisovan may have looked like
    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-dna-reveals-first-glimpse-what-denisovan-girl-looked-like
    Bruce Bower
    September 19, 2019

    Scientists have painted a portrait of a Denisovan young girl. Not many Denisovan fossils have been found. However, scientists have managed to reconstruct her skeleton using DNA patterns. Ancient DNA indicates that Denisovans inhabited parts of Asia around 300,000 to 50,000 years ago. They were more closely related to Neanderthals than Homo sapiens. However, some present day human populations carry small amounts of Denisovan ancestry, as well as Neanderthal ancestry. Almost everyone has Neanderthal ancestry. That is, most people besides African. That is because Neanderthals lived in the area that is now Europe today. Denisovans inhabitated Asia and China. The team examined the markers of DNA methylation from the girl. They were able to identify differences between us, the Denisovan girl, and Neanderthals. Some people doubt the accuracy of the methylation predictions.

    It is interesting to look at how different our relatives/ancestors were that long ago. It also got me thinking on how some people have Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry. Does having more Neanderthal DNA affect appearance? I also wonder when the features between the different groups of human ancestors began to differentiate. This actually got me thinking about a lot of stuff, and it is actually a really interesting topic.

  5. mofei says:

    Artists who paint with their feet have ‘toe maps’ in their brains
    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/artists-paint-feet-toe-maps-brain
    Laura Sanders
    September 10, 2019

    Two artists who paint with their toes have unusual neural footprints in their brains. Similar features have been found in other people with typical toe dexterity. The artists were born without arms. Because of the lack of arms, they rely heavily on their feet. They can eat with cutlery with their feet, write, and use computers. The brain has a map of areas that handles different body parts. Usually, the fingers would have a larger area because we use them so much. But now scientists are wondering if the two mens’ brains are actually structurally different or at least mapped different because they use their toes so differently. The two artists and 9 other people without any special foot/toe abilities underwent MRI scans while someone gently touched each toe. In the regular people, nothing much happened, and brain activity didn’t change much. However, in the artists’ brains, a patch of the brain would become very active when a toe was touched. They suspect the special mapping toe mapping was creating very early, because they grew up without the ability to use their fingers. Over time of using their toes instead, their brains drew these maps.

    I think this actually makes a lot of logical sense. Their toes are like our fingers. I play soccer, so I think my feet are a little more used to being used. But my toes aren’t being used when I’m kicking a ball. So how does the brain map this? I’m also wondering how being right or left handed plays into this. And what about ambidexterity? Is that also caused by special areas in the brain? I think that would be an interesting study.

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