linkfest – 09/29/13

Do Elite ‘Power Sport’ Athletes Have a Genetic Advantage?“A specific gene variant is more frequent among elite athletes in power sports…. A ‘functional polymorphism’ of the angiotensiogen (AGT) gene is two to three times more common in elite power athletes, compared to nonathletes or even elite endurance athletes, according to the new research by Paweł Cięszczyk, PhD, of University of Szczecin, Poland, and colleagues.”

Ballet Dancers’ Brains Adapt to Stop Them Getting in a Spin – or maybe they start off with somewhat different brain structures: “Scientists have discovered differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes…. The brain scans revealed differences between the groups in two parts of the brain: an area in the cerebellum where sensory input from the vestibular organs is processed and in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the perception of dizziness. The area in the cerebellum was smaller in dancers.”

Math explains history: Simulation accurately captures the evolution of ancient complex societies“The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world. Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research….” see also: Math and History Collide. response: No, math cannot predict the rise and fall of empires. (party pooper.)

Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion“Using new genetic tools, the authors conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age (10,000 years ago). They also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic.” – h/t malcolm pollack!

Scientists Created a New Form of Matter and It’s Like a Lightsaber – AWESOME! – see also: Scientists create never-before-seen form of matter

New Approach to Explaining Evolution’s Big Bang“[T]he Cambrian Explosion was preceded by a rise in sea level that submerged vast swaths of land, eroding the drowned rocks…. But these great floods also poisoned the ocean. The erosion of the coastlines released calcium, which can be toxic to cells. In order to survive, animals had to evolve ways to rid themselves of the poison. One solution may have been to pack the calcium into crystals, which eventually evolved into shells, bones, and other hard tissues. Dr. Smith doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that several different lineages of bilaterians evolved hard tissues during the Cambrian explosion, and not sooner.”

No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why – best post from jayman. ever. (to date! (~_^) ) a response to this.

Robert Ardrey: Incidents in the Disappearance of an Unperson – ok. i’ve run out of ways to say how brilliant helian’s posts are. just go read him already!

The IQ Breaking Point – How Civilized Society is Maintained or Lost“[I]t seems like there is a point, somewhere around 97, above which a modern civilization can be maintained and below which things abruptly begin to fall apart.” – from staffan!

Maths is a man thing* – from dr. james thompson!

Myths about IQ: Episode I – from elijah!

HBD: On Puerto Ricans and Their Heritage, Part I: Before the Taíno – from nelson!

Understanding how infants acquire new words across cultures“[I]n English, 24-month-old infants were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions (e.g., petting) if the surrounding noun phrases were explicitly mentioned (e.g., ‘The girl is petting the dog’) than if they were dropped from the sentence (e.g., ‘Look. Petting!’). In contrast, the new research shows that in Korean (a language in which noun phrases are typically dropped in conversation) 24-month-olds were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions if the surrounding noun phrases (e.g., the girl, the dog) were dropped; in fact, unlike English-acquiring infants, those acquiring Korean struggled if the nouns were explicitly mentioned.” – don’t know, unfortunately, what the ethnicities of these infants are.

The Science Fiction Future of Genetic Genealogy“Next month at the American Society of Human Genetics 2013 meeting, researchers from AncestryDNA will present their work detailing the reconstruction of portions of the genomes of an 18th-century couple using detailed genealogical information and Identity-by-Descent (‘IBD’) DNA segments from several hundred descendants of the couple in the AncestryDNA database. In other words, researchers identified several hundred descendants of a certain couple living in the 1700s and then used the DNA shared by those descendants to recreate as much of the couples’ genomes as possible.” – cool! from the genetic genealogist.

Black men have lower sperm counts than white men – @race/history/evolution notes.

Low-Hanging Fruit: Consider the Ant“Some spiders somehow fly by using silken threads. They’ve been detected at altitudes over 4 km, and more than a thousand miles from land. The usual notion is that these threads catch air currents, but that may not be the real explanation. For one thing, they seem to be able to take off fairly rapidly in a dead calm. It looks instead as if these spiders manage to impart a negative charge to these threads and are then propelled upward by the atmospheric electric field – electrostatic levitation, a totally novel mechanism for flight.” – whoa! – from greg cochran.

Brainwashed by a microbe?“*T. gondii* is being studied for possible behavioral effects mainly because it has attracted so much attention. But we’re probably being manipulated by other parasites. ‘A large number of parasitic organisms probably exist in helminths, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, archea and viruses that may influence the phenotype of their human host even more than the Toxoplasma. These organisms are, however, still waiting for research teams to engage in a systematic study of their influence on the human host.'” – from peter frost. previously.

When the Melting Pot Reaches a Boil“If there is one constant in the travails of *Homo sapiens sapiens*, it is that he gets on best with his own kind. Yet to the social engineers who would shepherd us into multicult euphoria, it is as if these millennia of inter-ethnic strife didn’t exist.”

Humans are not the only primates who whisper – so do the cotton-top tamarins. shhhhhh! don’t tell anyone!

What Else Can I Do With My DNA Test Results? – @the genetic genealogist.

That’s not autism: It’s simply a brainy, introverted boy“Autism spectrum diagnoses are up 78 percent in 10 years. We’re dramatically overdiagnosing it in everyday behavior.” – #longread.

The 16 Most (and Least) Honest Cities in the World – wallet test – finns ftw!

Ancient language not heard for 4,000 years is recorded for the first time – PIE (proto-indo-european).

2,500-year-old horse remains found in Bulgaria that suggest the creatures were buried standing up“The carriage and horse skeletons were discovered in the village of Svestari in north-east Bulgaria. They were found in a Thracian tomb along with some decorations.” – cool photos!

How Alcohol Conquered Russia“A history of the country’s struggle with alcoholism, and why the government has done so little about it.” – take note of anatoly’s comments!

bonus: mitual shah – one of the good guys. one of the VERY good guys: Briton died saving children in terror mall“A British marketing executive was shot dead in the Westgate massacre in Kenya after offering himself as a hostage to bargain for the lives of 33 children.”

bonus bonus: I’m sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism – from brendan o’neill.

bonus bonus bonus: hero of the week, via everyone on twitter – After Told He’s Racist, UW-M Student Rejects Further Diversity ‘Training’

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The silence of our friends – the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East – from ed west @the spectator.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: from india – ‘Family honour’ and ‘values’ give immunity to the predator at home – h/t mark weiner!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The US government has been running a quantum Internet for over two years – cool! – h/t michael anissimov!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Demons of Moldova“In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices — even exorcisms — to escape everyday life.”

(note: comments do not require an email. cotton-top tamarians!)

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your gene is showing

“Strangers can spot ‘kindness’ gene: study”

“People with a certain gene trait are known to be more kind and caring than people without it, and strangers can quickly tell the difference, according to US research published on Monday.

“The variation is linked to the body’s receptor gene of oxytocin, sometimes called the ‘love hormone’ because it often manifests during sex and promotes bonding, empathy and other social behaviors.

“Scientists at Oregon State University devised an experiment in which 23 couples, whose genotypes were known to researchers but not observers, were filmed.

“One member of the couple was asked to tell the other about a time of suffering in his or her life. Observers were asked to watch the listener for 20 seconds, with the sound turned off.

In most cases, the observers were able to tell which of the listeners had the ‘kindness gene’ and which ones did not, said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences edition of November 14.

“‘Our findings suggest even slight genetic variation may have tangible impact on people’s behavior, and that these behavioral differences are quickly noticed by others,’ said lead author Aleksandr Kogan, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto….”

see also: Thin-slicing study of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and the evaluation and expression of the prosocial disposition @pnas.

p.s. – from the afp article:

“People in the study were tested beforehand and found to have GG, AG or AA genotypes for the rs53576 DNA sequence of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene.

“People who have two copies of the G allele are generally judged as more empathetic, trusting and loving.

“Those with AG or AA genotypes tend to say they feel less positive overall, and feel less parental sensitivity. Previous research has shown they also may have a higher risk of autism.”

i got AG, btw. (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. got oxytocin?)