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Lincoln's ailment

Poor old Abe. He had an impressive medical history, as previously discussed. Will we ever figure out all his ailments? As an explanation for "his especially clumsy gait," one theory claims that he had Marfan's Syndrome (with good company). But now researchers are leaning more toward a new theory, that a gene-linked disorder called ataxia. But Lincoln also suffered from depression which could have been heriditary, for which he took "little blue pills" that gave him mercury poisoning, which could explain his insomnia, tremors and rage attacks, gait, and more. Of course, we also suspect that he was in the closet. Lincoln's DNA will continue to be a growth industry, at least until somebody can get hold of a sample of the old guy and figure him out for sure.
posted by beagle on Jan 29, 2006 - 34 comments

 

All the king's soldiers

How cocky was your great^10 grandfather? Up to 3 million men may be descended from an Irish King. Impressive but still well short of the estimated 16 million ancestors of Genghis Khan. Does the alpha male mojo that drives leadership also make a man a horndog or does being a high status male simply give one the opportunity that all men would gladly have? If you aren't constantly on the lookout for a new hen, perhaps you're not presidential material.
posted by missbossy on Jan 23, 2006 - 23 comments

genetics

Medieval Irish warlord boasts three million descendants.
posted by semmi on Jan 19, 2006 - 28 comments

Four Mothers, 3.5 Million People

Study finds that 40% of Ashkenazi Jews come from four Jewish mothers. Previously discussed on Metafilter: the peculiar genetics of Ashkenazi Jews and their impressive intellect.
posted by billysumday on Jan 13, 2006 - 153 comments

goodness.

Glowing green pigs. Scientists from Taiwan have successfully created a bioluminescent pigs with genes from a jellyfish.
posted by delmoi on Jan 12, 2006 - 33 comments

Boys like trucks girl like dolls, the SSSM takes another hit

Some 25 million years ago, humans and vervet monkeys diverged from a common ancestor. In very rough terms, perhaps one and a quarter million human generations, or five million vervet generations, have been brought forth upon the Earth since that common ancestor lived. Of course, many differences have evolved between humans and vervets in those 25 million years: among other things, human parents choose toys for their children; vervet parents do not.

But after all that time and genetic change, and despite studies attributing human children's toy preferences to adult stereotypes, a new study by Dr. Gerianne Alexander finds that vervet males, like human boys, prefer toy trucks and balls, while vervet females and human girls prefer dolls and toy cooking pots. What's more, the vervets play with the toys much as human children do: males roll trucks on the ground, females inspect dolls (apparently) for genitalia. Previously on MetaFilter: Pinker vs. Spelke, Gender and Brain morphology, Harvard president Larry Summers and his daughter's "baby truck".
posted by orthogonality on Dec 8, 2005 - 80 comments

green, black, brown, blue?

Not settled after all partial genetic explaination of eye color. it's not one classic dominant/recessive allele a la the monk Mendel. three known + unknown genes involved, everybody's still beautiful.
posted by longsleeves on Dec 8, 2005 - 19 comments

Say cheese!

This just in! First photo of Flying Spaghetti Monster taken using bacteria!
posted by brundlefly on Nov 27, 2005 - 51 comments

Fear is so passe

Scientists find fear gene; can an army of [literally] fearless soldiers be far away? (Plus some good things, too.)
posted by ryanhealy on Nov 17, 2005 - 40 comments

Gay Germ Theory

What if being gay were a disease?
posted by missbossy on Oct 3, 2005 - 102 comments

D to the N to A

DNA: frightening government privacy invasion tool of tomorrow or beautiful source of personal art today?
posted by mathowie on Sep 11, 2005 - 18 comments

Brain Gain

Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution. Two important new papers in the journal Science (available here) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this recent profile from The Scientist), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process as well as the artificial distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate. More observations from anthropologist John Hawks.
posted by Jason Malloy on Sep 8, 2005 - 54 comments

Intelligent Design by Trial and Error

A more efficient microbe genome. A more efficient sorting algorithm. A more efficient keyboard layout.
posted by fatllama on Aug 26, 2005 - 8 comments

Genetics of fictional characters

Harry Potter and the Recessive Allele is a short letter to Nature, suggesting using the concept of wizarding heritage in the Harry Potter series to explain genetics to children. It's the latest forwarding fad among biologists. The cartoon in this newspaper version of the story sums it up best... The idea isn't new, however, because a quick Google search finds the same theory in a British newspaper article from 2003.
posted by easternblot on Aug 17, 2005 - 14 comments

Tubby tabby taste trouble trial transforms traditional thought

New research concludes that cats lack a functional sweet taste receptor, as reported in the new, free-access journal PLoS Genetics. Also: WaPo coverage, and the new family of Public Library of Science journals.
posted by rxrfrx on Jul 25, 2005 - 40 comments

Science, race, and genetics

The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (PDF). A fascinating new theory from physicist turned renegade evolutionary theorist, Gregory Cochran (see this Atlantic Monthly cover story on Cochran's already path-breaking germ theory of disease), and genetic anthropologist Henry Harpending, proposes that a unique evolutionary history, and a number of improbably clustered neurologically related genetic diseases among Ashkenazi Jews could help explain their incredible intelligence test scores and extraordinary intellectual achievements (e.g. Ashkenazi Jews are 3% of the American population but win 27% of the Nobel Prizes). The paper is set for publication in the Journal of Biosocial Science, and is already getting major press in the New York Times and The Economist. Does the recent Harvard fracas over Larry Summers herald a new "arms race" in academic debate about genetics, man and society for the 21st century? [compelling post by Jason]
posted by mathowie on Jun 3, 2005 - 68 comments

Picture yourself in a boat on a river

Eye Color calculator.
posted by fandango_matt on May 10, 2005 - 20 comments

Deafness In White Cats

Genetics of the white cat is a fascinating subject.
posted by debralee on Apr 19, 2005 - 12 comments

Human Variety

The Nature of Normal Human Variety A talk with Dr. Armand Leroi (his website). "Almost uniquely among modern scientific problems [the problem of normal human variety] is a problem that we can apprehend as we walk down the street. We live in an age now where the deepest scientific problems are buried away from our immediate perception. They concern the origin of the universe. They concern the relationships of subatomic particles. They concern the nature and structure of the human genome. Nobody can see these things without large bits of expensive equipment. But when I consider the problem of human variety I feel as Aristotle must have felt when he first walked down to the shore at Lesvos for the first time. The world is new again." (via Arts & Letters Daily)
posted by Kattullus on Mar 29, 2005 - 17 comments

Like a subway map, for SNIPs

Pretty and pretty interesting: unrooted haplotype networks -- diagrams showing the relation and mutational distance between different sets of DNA, with haplotypes represented by circles proportional to haplotype frequency, joined by lines proportional to mutational difference between haplotypes -- in cichlid fish (on page 3 ) [pdf], in stone loach fish ( on page 3) [pdf], in lesser prairie chickens (on page 6) [pdf] and in a ring species! (on page 2) [pdf]
posted by orthogonality on Mar 25, 2005 - 14 comments

Are you keeping your backups too?

(A)bort, (I)gnore, (R)evert to Grandma's DNA A jaw-dropping revision to Mendelian inheritance: bad genes can be replaced from a secret ancestral stash. (The same researchers have previously mentioned other ways to get around Mendel.) Also, DNA gets a fake fifth letter.
posted by orthogonality on Mar 23, 2005 - 40 comments

Transhumanism and effective use of the Web

More than Human - Ramez Naam's site promoting his new book (about emerging technologies for engineering human biology, more or less), has excerpts, a list of upcoming appearances, and even a full-fledged blog linking to articles and commentary that might be of interest to people curious about the book's transhumanist ideas. Now this is the way to do it.
posted by Mars Saxman on Mar 13, 2005 - 11 comments

delta 32

If your European ancestors survived the Bubonic Plague 700 years ago, they very likely may have also passed on to you a mutation of the CCR5 gene -- called delta 32. This may not sound exciting, but delta 32 is a powerful mistake. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, attacks the human immune system, infecting the white blood cells sent to destroy it. The delta 32 mutation, however, effectively blocks the crucial gateway into human cells the virus needs. In fact, possessing delta 32 could save your life, and the lives of your children.
posted by lola on Mar 8, 2005 - 47 comments

The Tribe

Genes and Jews. And you thought Spock came up with that part of the shtick. It turns out that despite the racial and ethnic diversity of the Tribe, there are genetic markers that identify Cohanim, or the priestly descendants of Aaron (know any Cohens?). These markers help identify jewish identity in the most distant reaches of the diaspora. The fascinating intersection of anthropology, genetics, and religion. (btw first fpp)
posted by Kifer85 on Feb 14, 2005 - 26 comments

Israeli researchers discover gene for altruism

Israeli researchers discover gene for altruism Why are some people more prone to give charity or put themselves in danger in order to help others? A team of Israeli psychologists claim they have the answer - they've located the first gene linked to altruistic behavior.
posted by Postroad on Jan 24, 2005 - 26 comments

Of Stem Cells and Neanderthals

Come out, experts from the woodworks! Neu5Ac and Neu5Gc are sugars found on cells present in nearly every mammal, from chimps to pigs. When scientists altered the genes of mice so that they couldn't produce them, the mice died. However, unlike our closest relatives, humans lack a gene that makes Neu5Gc. The gene is not gone, but rendered silent by a fatal mutation, one that occured approximately 500,000 ago. Now, note that it is illegal to produce any new embryonic stem cell lines. Any scientist will tell you that extant and legal human stem cell lines have been existing in calf serum and often on layers of mouse "feeder" cells for growth. As such, they are immersed in a bath of antigen and if re-introdcued would elicit a strong immune response. I.e. although of human origin, they would be treated as foreign cells if injected. It is likely they would be rejected if injected with today's techniques anyway, but this may represent another significant hurdle for research, one that could be sidestepped with more progressive policy. (Via The Regular)
posted by willns on Jan 24, 2005 - 32 comments

Ah, science.

New research takes steps towards finding the "gay genes." A study conducted on gay brothers in more than 100 families found several genetic regions of similarity with linkage to sexual orientation. This is kind of dense (scroll to the bottom of the page for the FAQ), but that's because it hasn't been written up in the press so there are only journal doc's and scientific summaries available.
This is the press release, which is clearer (Microsoft Word).
This is the article on the study, as published in the journal Human Genetics (PDF).
posted by joe_murphy on Jan 20, 2005 - 107 comments

-MATT-TAME-META-TEAM-

The Human Genome.
posted by Gyan on Dec 28, 2004 - 6 comments

Something fishy?

Singaporean scientists genetically modify zebra fish to detect water pollutants by turning fluorescent. An American company realizes there's a consumer market for novelty glow-in-the-dark fish, and starts selling the US's first genetically modified pet. While the FDA, which oversees GM animals, 'finds no reason to regulate', California's Fish and Game Commission bans sales in the state over ethical concenrns, and a coalition of watchdog groups files suit to support a national ban.

A year later, GloFish are still on sale, and California's reconsidering its sales block. With the first GM pet quietly swimming into homes, and others (like hypo-allergenic cats) close behind, are we ready for a designer pet invasion?
posted by thomascrown on Dec 20, 2004 - 51 comments

Got the right genes?

Predicting who'll benefit from anti-depressants From the study's abstract: "There are well-replicated, independent lines of evidence supporting a role for corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in the pathophysiology of depression." The NY Times has a bit more readable explanation (reg-free link) of a recent investigation of into whether there is a genetic explanation for why some people get more from their drugs than others.
posted by billsaysthis on Dec 18, 2004 - 143 comments

Donations appreciated...

Donations appreciated... "The male species is doomed, says Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University. And a woman-only world is possible." More here, and here.
posted by docpops on Dec 13, 2004 - 49 comments

Taming of the Shrew

Extinct is forever. Or is it? Scientists are hard at work reconstructing entire genomes of our common ancestors. The present technology is a far cry from Jurassic Park, but we're getting there.
posted by mowglisambo on Dec 8, 2004 - 9 comments

mmmmm ... DNA

To settle the issue, I extracted my own DNA. I extracted the DNA of my subject. I tested both in a gel electrophoresis [flash] chamber that I built myself. As I suspected, although my DNA is delicious, I am not a kiwi fruit.
posted by deshead on Dec 5, 2004 - 6 comments

The Dawkins FAQ.

The Dawkins FAQ. Interesting Q&A session about evolution, biology, genes, etc with an expert. Dawkins claims no final answer on the "gay gene" or a Darwinian explanation of homosexuality.
posted by skallas on Nov 27, 2004 - 56 comments

Girls, Girls, XXs...

Girl Power or: Partnership status and the human sex ratio at birth: a paper by Karen Norberg

Could the sex of a child be influenced by the status of the parents' relationship at the time of conception? In a sample of 86,436 births in the United States, we find a small excess of sons among births to parents who were married or living with an opposite sex partner before the child's conception, compared to births to parents who were not. This is the first evidence that household arrangements can affect the human sex ratio at birth, and could explain the fall in the proportion of male births in some developed countries over the past thirty years.


(Data published on FirstCite registration required) via The Economist

(special note for mathowie: No word yet as to whether or not those single moms can also reliably produce offspring with an astigmatism.)
posted by lilboo on Oct 27, 2004 - 12 comments

You get the gay from your mother

You get the gay from your mother.
It turns out that there may not be "gay" genes, just "attracted to men" genes.
posted by NortonDC on Oct 13, 2004 - 30 comments

Science

In terms of our genes, we humans are all the same -- except for the ways in which we're different. Pharmacogenomics has for years been touted as the ultimate benefit of the genomics revolution. But to many, this revolution has a troubling side.
posted by semmi on Oct 13, 2004 - 6 comments

taking off the color blinders

A hundred social scientists and geneticists gathered this week in Alexandria to sort out the meaning of race, and didn't, quite.
posted by sudama on Sep 18, 2004 - 40 comments

Polygyny

Adam and His Eves. Genetic research suggests that polygyny was the norm for most of humanity's past. [Via the Intersection.]
posted by homunculus on Aug 29, 2004 - 14 comments

The Savage Cabbit

Sure... the liger has been getting all the cross-species press lately (with the jackalope getting a close second), but what about the growing menace of the cabbit?
posted by ph00dz on Aug 25, 2004 - 10 comments

Sorcerer II expedition

Craig Venter is on an expedition to collect the DNA of everything on the planet and sequence the genome of Mother Earth.
posted by homunculus on Jul 27, 2004 - 13 comments

Patenting Genes

Monsanto Wins Fight to Control Plant The Canadian Supreme court sets international precedent by ruling that since Monsanto holds a patent on a gene, it can control the use of the plant. So does this mean that in the future that an engineered human gene could be patented, and therefore if you receive this gene you will have to make royalty payments? And if you renege on paying can they repo the gene?
posted by batboy on May 21, 2004 - 34 comments

not so junk DNA

not so junk DNA the idea has always made me uncomfortable. now scientists are taking a closer look at base-pair sequences that have been generally overlooked till now.
posted by jessica on May 12, 2004 - 9 comments

Mammal Gene Memetics

Analysis Uncovers Critical Stretches of Human Genome.
posted by Gyan on May 11, 2004 - 9 comments

The roots of genius

Ennobling the Seeds. Can genius be donated?
posted by Gyan on Apr 19, 2004 - 1 comment

Send in the clones

Godsend Institute offers up this explanation of their cloning procedures. Since Dolly, several scientists have cloned other animals, including cows and mice. Now, at Godsend, we have pioneered a technique that allows a cell nucleus from a recently deceased child to be implanted within a human egg, allowing a mother to carry that child to term again.
posted by sciatica on Apr 15, 2004 - 33 comments

Challenging Darwin: Is sex really all about the genes?

Author challenges Darwin's theory of "sexual selection." To Darwin, mutations that don't enhance survival, like peacocks' tails, must be aids to attracting mates to pass on genes. Homosexuality, therefore, is to Darwin and the Christian-right both an unnatural aberration. But with ever growing evidence of homsexual behavior in animals, from bonobos to penguins, isn't it time that Darwin's theory get replaced?
posted by dnash on Apr 15, 2004 - 55 comments

Making the Mind

Making the Mind. "The general outlines of how genes build the brain are finally becoming clear, and we are also starting to see how, in forming the brain, genes make room for the environment’s essential role. While vast amounts of work remain to be done, it is becoming equally clear that understanding the coordination of nature and nurture will require letting go of some long-held beliefs."
posted by homunculus on Jan 17, 2004 - 16 comments

Genetic Sexual Attraction

A new brand of incest. "You're 40, happily married - and then you meet your long-lost brother and fall passionately in love. This isn't fiction; in the age of the sperm donor, it's a growing reality: 50% of reunions between siblings, or parents and offspring, separated at birth result in obsessive emotions. Last month, a former police officer was convicted of incest with his half-sister - but should we criminalise a bond hardwired into our psychology?"
posted by Hildegarde on Jan 12, 2004 - 51 comments

This is Bob. Bob has bitch tits.

Breasts on men — most people's only knowledge of this stems from Fight Club (his name was Robert Paulson), but Gynecomastia is a very real medical condition, often a side effect of Klienfelter Syndrome. This person's experiences with their gender identity (raised primarily as a girl, then switching to being publicly masculine when older) while growing up with Gynecomastia in a small town fascinated me. (First FPP!)
posted by djwudi on Nov 10, 2003 - 23 comments

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