Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm a Hybrid

Just read the article: Neanderthals may have interbred with humans over at which simultaneously blew me away and confirmed what I've always thought. Here's an excerpt:

The researchers arrived at that conclusion by studying genetic data from 1,983 individuals from 99 populations in Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Sarah Joyce, a doctoral student working with Long, analyzed 614 microsatellite positions, which are sections of the genome that can be used like fingerprints. She then created an evolutionary tree to explain the observed genetic variation in microsatellites. The best way to explain that variation was if there were two periods of interbreeding between humans and an archaic species, such as Homo neanderthalensis or H. heidelbergensis.

"This is not what we expected to find," says Long.

So Africans are the only true Homo sapiens and everyone else is a mutt? I admit I am not an anthropologist or a geneticist so forgive my pseudo-scientific ramblings here, but this makes total sense to me. Europeans and Asians have been out of Africa for only a relatively short time (50,000 - 100,000 years) which to me isn't enough time to develop all the drastic physical differences between them. But if they hybridized with these other humans who had a lot longer to developed these different traits and then selected for them it makes more sense.

Update: The newly sequenced Neanderthal genome confirms the above. People of European and Asian descent have from 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Barry Allen or Wally West?

I was recently asked which was my favorite Flash and I instantly said, Wally West. Not that Jay Garrick doesn't have any die-hard fans out there, but Flash fans pretty much split into two camps: Team Barry and Team Wally.

Why did I pick Wally without a second thought? Two reasons:

1) Wally is a much more interesting character. Bare with me here... I see Barry Allen as a Jesus Christ figure, he was pure and perfect from the get go and the best thing he did was sacrifice himself to save us. Wally West is more of a Buddha figure. He's not perfect. In fact, in the beginning, he's a bit of a brat. He has to work to better himself and he tries different things and different paths. After he attains enlightenment by entering the speed force, he uses he new understanding to continue helping humanity. Both stories are great, but Wally is more relateable a character (to me anyways.)

2) Wally and I have grown up together. Wally went from Kid Flash to Flash around the time I was in middle school. He grew into the role of the Flash and became the best Flash while I was in college. He got married and had kids around the time I did. So if I seem biased it's cause I've spent more time with Wally West over the years.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Space Vision

On Thursday Obama spoke about his new space vision. I'm not going to go into it cause it's been all over the web for the past three days, but if you've read some of my other space-related posts you'll know I totally agree with it.

Let the private companies deal with shuttling people to and from low Earth orbit and let the big government funds take us to more distant locations. Will it work? Probably not, but we know the old way wasn't working cause we haven't gone anywhere in some 30 years. At least this has a chance.

If it works, I envision privately built ships taking us to privately built stations and bases in orbit and on the moon with NASA ships exploring asteroids and Mars and other far-off targets. If it doesn't work we'll be exactly where we are now so no harm no foul.

Some links: