Wednesday, March 15, 2006
- Provocative biological research appears to suggest that all currently living human beings share the same recent ancestry; Rohde, Olson and Chang (Nature, 2004) detail their mathematical model, and coauthor Steve Olson explains some of the real-world implications in Slate's "Why We're All Jesus' Children: Go back a few millenniums, and we've all got the same ancestors":
...[i]t gets even stranger. Say you go back 120 generations, to about the year 1000 B.C. According to the results presented in our Nature paper, your ancestors then included everyone in the world who has descendants living today. And if you compared a list of your ancestors with a list of anyone else's ancestors, the names on the two lists would be identical.On a related note, check out "Commemorate Caesar: Take a Deep Breath!" on NPR.org (about the famous Nocera calculation). The implications boggle the mind. If we share everybody's ancestry, and every breath wwe take does contain at least one molecule of Caesar's dying breath, the next story will likely give you a queasy feeling even if you don't live in Chicago.
This...very bizarre result...means that you and I are descended from all of the Africans, Australians, Native Americans, and Europeans who were alive three millenniums ago and still have descendants living today. ...
Keep these observations in mind the next time you read about people being linked to famous ancestors. Newsweek recently gushed that "one in five males in northwest Ireland may be a descendant of a legendary fifth-century warlord." In fact, virtually everyone with any European ancestry is descended from that man. One-fifth of Irish males may be descended from him in a direct male line...[i]n addition to Jesus and the warlord, we're also all descended from Julius Caesar, from Nefertiti, from Confucius, from the Seven Daughters of Eve, and from any other historical figure who left behind lines of descendants and lived earlier than a few thousand years ago. [read full article]
- Chicago's latest crises: Cook County Board President John Stroger suffers a stroke, placing his political future in question, and the city aknowledges its serious goose poop problem. Urbs in horto, indeed:
"...maybe we should do what the Wheaton Park District has done to eliminate the only thing that really bothers people about geese. Their staff now regularly operate a $20,000 riding goose poop vacuum." [Chicago Wilderness Mag.com]
- As I have mentioned before in these pages, I, like many Americans, suffer from cacography. Not in the sense or being a poor speller, but despite years of elementary-school penmanship drills (which earned me several "gold stars" from Miss Grabania, Miss Propert, and Miss Stone, I might add) unless I devote a considerable - and I mean considerable - effort to writing clearly, these days my cursive is caca; slightly above the legibility of a psychotic macacque's. Fortunately, a new solution may be on the horizon: "italic handwriting". [via Rebecca's Pocket]
- Cartoon Fracas Episode IV: A New Dope [ChicagoIST]
- Robotic carp in the ponds of Hiroshima [BoingBoing]
- Cool: MIT Media Labs's I/O Brush allows users to "sample" images of everyday objects and use them as virtual "brushes" on a computer screen.
- Nature - and bureaucrats - abhor a vacuum: The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (???) says non, non to the as-yet-unregulated "sous vide" cooking technique [New York Times, via Overlawyered]