December 11th, 2007

Modern Humans

Human Evolution Speeds Up
Our Stone Age ancestors were more genetically similar to Neanderthals than they are to us, as our species has evolved 100 times faster in the past 5,000 years than at any other time in human evolution, a new study indicates.
Conventional wisdom has held that human evolution slowed as modern humans emerged and even stopped with us, but genetic data is now showing that the opposite is true, with aspects of our cultures, such as diet and medicine, and the ballooning human population pushing the gas pedal on the evolution of our species.
Anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues analyzed data from the International HapMap Project, which works to catalog the genetic similarities and differences among humans from cultures around the globe—this map of genetic variation can give insight into changes in human genes over time.
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Life Began Between the Sheets... of Mica
Hot action between the sheets has given many human lives their start. Now a scientist says chemical comings and goings between sheets of the mineral mica may have gotten all life on Earth going.

The layered, flaky mineral could have provided support, shelter, and an energy source to jump-start formation of the first complex organic molecules, according to the new theory.
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The Truth behind the Myth

“Out of Body”
Once you see—and feel—a virtual self, your mind can move into a mannequin.
The Motive  While we navigate the world, our brains are constantly integrating sensory information gathered by sight, touch, and hearing. 

But sometimes the system goes haywire, and people experience the illusion that they are outside their physical bodies, floating above them and peering back from a distance of about 6 to 10 feet.
These “out of body” experiences typically occur when people suffer strokes, epileptic fits, or migraines or are taking drugs. Two cognitive neuroscientists explored the boundaries of body perception by reproducing an out-of-body experience in the lab.
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Quote of the Day

“For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”
-Sir Winston Churchill-

Image of the Day

South Africa

Light, fluffy clouds stretch across the broad sky of South Africa's Kalahari Desert. Most clouds are produced by the upward motion of air, which may be caused by weather or local topography.